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Don't Let a Curveball Strike Out Your Career

It’s not uncommon to have a lull in your packaging career. Periods when you're performing, but not achieving your best. However, you can overcome this funk.

There are many reasons for having a “dip” in your career. You may be recovering from a significant personal event - such as a divorce, family struggle or medical issue. Or perhaps the downturn is related to your current position. Most often having to do with boredom or fear of taking the wrong action.

And then there’s just day-to-day living – having children, wanting to travel less, or being present for those all-important milestones.

Whatever the cause, the result becomes a slowdown in your packaging career or lack of new opportunities.

There’s no shame in acknowledging a performance slump. However, what you do afterward can make all the difference in your career progression.  

Tackle Your Career Lull Head-On

The first thing to know is that what you’re going through is completely normal. We all have spans when we’re motivated, energized and putting out our best work. But we also have periods when our motivation drops, we lose focus, or life simply steals our momentum.

It happens.

But you must acknowledge the problem is there and establish a course for corrective action. There’s nothing worse than packaging executives settling for the status quo because they think they have to.

If you’re not doing your best work, word gets out. And when you apply for that next position, you may be doomed from the start.

You only get one chance to make a first impression - and coming back from a tarnished reputation is next to impossible.  

So, what can you do about it?

First off, accept responsibility. Own up to the fact that you were in a lull and make no qualms about it. If potential employers ask, have a well-thought out explanation ready to explain what happened.

Most importantly, talk about the lessons learned in hindsight.

Should you happen to have any breaks in your employment, don’t be afraid to acknowledge this as well. In fact, if the subject does come up in conversation, put a positive spin on the experience and talk about how you're better off now because of it.

Trying to hide from these types of events only raises more concerns. Tackling any question marks head-on, however, tends to make them a non-issue.

Clarify What You Want From Your Packaging Career

A big part of doing your best work is finding opportunities that mesh with your objectives. Ones that check off the majority of the “must-haves” on your list. But in order to get there, you must first define the parameters of what you’re looking for. For instance:

  • What’s missing? Clarify what it is that you don’t like about your current position. The people? The projects? Or something else? If you can’t put into words what’s lacking in your current role, you likely won’t be happy elsewhere either.
  • ‍What do you want more of? On the flip side, it’s also important to identify what you presently enjoy doing. By understanding what you like (and dislike), you paint a more accurate picture of what you’re hoping to find.
  • ‍Describe your ideal opportunity - You’ll be hard pressed (of course) to find a packaging position that meets every single one of your requirements. But even if you land a role that covers 60-70% of them, you’ll still be a lot happier than you might be otherwise.

But before you jump ship and head for greener pastures, take a moment to discuss your concerns with management. You may find that by simply switching roles, or moving to a new department, you’ll generate the spark necessary to get back on track.  

Lastly, don’t be afraid to reflect on your career. Because active management is key to long-term professional growth.

Getting Your Packaging Career Back Up To Speed

Some packaging executives consider a lull or time off to be a death sentence for their career. But, when used wisely, a downturn can easily become a windfall. If you find yourself muddled in a quagmire, consider the following:

Work on professional development - utilize downtime to take courses and improve your skills or knowledge. Even if you can’t take formal leave, don’t overlook the value of nights and weekends in improving your market value or hireability.

Volunteer - take a position on the board of a local group or charity. Volunteer for your kid’s school or sports team. Focusing on others can have a tremendous impact on how you view the world and help realign your priorities.

Reestablish your network - If you’ve let your personal or professional connections go dormant, now is the perfect time to reconnect with your network. Attend local events in your area and see who you meet and what opportunities you learn about.

Go in with no expectations and let the exchanges develop naturally. After all, getting hit up for a job the moment you meet someone is a huge turnoff. Instead, go for small wins.

If they work for a company you admire, simply ask what it’s like. See if you can find out what type of people work there and which skills or backgrounds are most in demand.

You’re not going to walk away with an immediate offer. But the knowledge gained can prove invaluable when it comes to updating your resume or applying for open positions.    

Conclusion

No one is immune to occasionally feeling stymied at work or having to deal with unexpected surprises. Left unchecked, however, these problems can spill over into job performance and negatively impact our careers.

The key is being able to recognize life’s up and downs for what they are - excuses to give in, or opportunities to excel.

Don’t let a performance slump torpedo your packaging career. If you find yourself in a rut, take some time to assess the problem and determine the best course of action. Whether it be embracing your current role, investigating a transfer, retooling your education, or finding something completely different.

After all, just because you have a couple strikes against you, it doesn't mean that you’re out of the game.

You’re just waiting for the right pitch...

Together- We Succeed!

Chase & Associates

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