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The good news is: if you have a job, you are far less likely to be laid off than any time in recent history. In fact, companies plan to cut 46 percent fewer jobs than a year earlier, the lowest rate in at least 14 years, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The bad news is: if you are looking for a job, the market is still sparse and highly competitive. 13.9 million Americans were unemployed last month, and a government survey showed a net gain of 36,000 jobs in January, 25 percent of what is needed to keep up with population growth.

Layoffs are on the decline, but unemployment is still a problem now that the recession is officially over. Organizations are not yet ready to hire enough people to accommodate those who are out of work, so if you are employed, you will want to reflect carefully on any plans to switch jobs in the near future. If you are dissatisfied with your current job and have been thinking of leaving, consider what you would like to change and explore any employee development opportunities that could improve your situation.

Problem: You are bored.

Solution: If you are not challenged by the work you are doing, look for chances to push yourself and grow within your job. Ask to lead an upcoming project, take the initiative to suggest (and implement) improvements to the company website, start a team-building initiative volunteering at a local charity. No one else is responsible for you being engaged in your work; you have to make a conscious effort to find new challenges ask for more responsibility.

Problem: You don’t feel that you are learning anymore.

Solution: If you can do your job with your eyes closed and can’t remember the last time you learned a new skill, it is time to expand your educational horizons. Employee development is a continuous process; much like exercising, you need to keep your (mental) muscles in shape by using them regularly. Ask your employer to pay for you to join a professional association or sign up for professional development classes that will strengthen your skills and your organization.

Problem: You don’t feel your skills are being utilized.

Solution: If you have a natural gift for sales but you spend most of your time doing accounting work, speak up. Look for ways that you can take on more tasks related to your strengths and interests, and speak to your manager about the skills you would like to use more often. Demonstrate how you can be even more of an asset to the organization by doing the work that interests you.

The job market is challenging at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer silently in a job that isn’t an ideal fit. Seek out employee development opportunities that will transform a stable job into a job you are passionate about.

What ways have you found to grow within your current job? Share your experiences in the comments!

Learn more about the EDSI Taking the Initiative course.

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