You were one of the success stories. You prepared well for your transition and landed a good job in a location you like.
Or maybe you took a chance on a job or a location you wouldn’t normally consider. But however you got there, you realize you hate your job. What can you do? Here is some advice for making it better … or getting out.
1.) Keep your cool.
Whatever is causing you to hate your job, there’s probably an emotional element. It’s not uncommon for employees to make snarky comments or outright statements of dislike to co-workers or on social media. And it’s understandable—like it or not, these days most of our interactions are online or at work, so it’s natural to vent or complain in those environments. But publicly declaring frustration can get you a ticket out the hard way, which becomes a black mark on your career history and may leave you jobless before you’re ready to move on. And you’d better believe that your employer monitors Facebook and that at least one of your fellow employees is a snitch. The best thing to do is clam up and focus on fixing things or finding a new job.
2.) Figure out what’s really bothering you.
The biggest reason people hate their jobs is a relationship at the office or the workplace. A personality conflict or competition with a co-worker—if intense enough—can make the whole place hostile. It may be persecution from a boss or sexual harassment. If any of the above is true, you have the option of requesting a shift or department change to get away from whoever is bothering you. If you just hate the work—like you can’t stand dealing with customers—then your only option is to request a new job within the company or look for something else.
3.) Decide if you’re staying or going.
This might be an easy one. Maybe you’ve already decided that you’re out. If so, begin searching for new jobs right away. Even if you are considering staying for the location or because you like the work, you should still start searching for a new job. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes open for opportunity anyway, and in this case whatever you do to resolve your work problem could, sad to say, result in your departure. Better safe than sorry. Whatever you decide in terms of staying or going, hedge your bets and begin a career search.
4.) Begin a career search.
Even if this is the first job you’ve had since getting out, many of the same steps apply when it comes to finding a job. Make sure you update your résumé, and then carry those updates to your LinkedIn or other job search accounts. Dust off or get some more recommendations to submit to other jobs. Research job postings available and reconnect with your network. Who knows what you’ll find out there … and getting some excitement about new possibilities will make it easier to stick through whatever time you have left in your current job.
5.) Be discreet!
Just as you don’t want to sound off about your dissatisfaction and give your employer an excuse to fire you, you don’t want to tip your hand that you’re looking. You can’t hide it, of course—you will be talking to people and applying to jobs—but if you do that from your personal email, via LinkedIn messages and with your personal phone, then you can be pretty sure no co-workers or supervisors are going to catch wind of it. In fact, remaining discreet can work to your advantage, because it will make recruiters feel like they’re stealing you away for their company or client—something they like to do. Also, don’t post that you’re looking for a job. Just post your résumé. It’s plausible that you would have a résumé out there as a form of introduction for yourself, but if you have a profile that states you’re seeking a job, well, there’s no second explanation for that.
6.) Make a friendly exit.
As much as you’ve fantasized about telling off your boss and all the jerks who work in your office, it can’t help you. Industries are small worlds sometimes, and you don’t want to get a reputation as a troublemaker. Besides, the odds are good that your new company (or a future company to which you apply) will call your former boss and ask him/her about you. So leave professionally, giving your two-week notice and doing your best to train a replacement, or transition your responsibilities to other employees.
7.) Don’t gossip.
It’s entirely possible that you might leave your current job before you have a new one locked up. But even if you have a new job waiting for you, remember that you’re still the new guy or girl and that everything you do is under scrutiny. There’s nothing that new co-workers hate more than negative gossip about your previous company. It looks like you’re disloyal and nasty, and they’ll immediately wonder what you’d say about them in a similar circumstance. Your supervisors will also question your commitment. So speak no evil about your previous, hated job, and if asked about it, make sure you have a simple and understandable explanation that recalls the situation without emotion. And if you’re in an interview, be prepared to explain what you learned from your former job.
8.) Start over.
It’s easy to feel trapped in a job if you hate it. Can you afford to be unemployed? What if your boss poisons the industry for you? Will you have to move away? These are common fears, but the reality is that you can make things better, or if that fails, move on. It’s just a case of protecting your reputation and finding another job.
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