With Valentine’s Day this week, I started thinking about a topic I’ve been asked for advice about countless times in the past: “What should I do if I don’t love my job?” It’s a situation we’ve all likely faced at one point in our lives; if not in our professional careers, then perhaps it was that summer job during high school or college.
You know the one. That job that seemed so promising during the interview process. Or maybe it once was you dream job but has since lost its luster. Whatever the case, it just doesn’t feel like you’re meant for each other anymore.
Even though the economy is booming, job opportunities are plentiful and paychecks are increasing, many of us are apparently just going through the motions and tolerating a job we don’t love. The Conference Board’s most recent annual job satisfaction survey appears to validate the fact that almost half of us fall into this category. So, if you’re part of that 46% of Americans that aren’t in love with their 9 to 5, here are some tips to make the most of your current employment situation while preparing to take the leap:
- Reflect, and then course correct. Begin by assessing what’s at the heart of your dissatisfaction at work. Is it a boss who micromanages? Constantly being asked to work long hours or weekend? No longer excited by the company mission or the role you play in its success? Stuck dealing with the fallout from a teammate who doesn’t carry their weight? A long commute that leaves you miserable before you even get to the office? Or perhaps you’ve started a new job and have found it’s just not what you expected. Once you identify the source (or sources) of what’s not working at work, you can then begin to focus on trying to make the most of your current situation while preparing for what comes next.
- Share with someone. But not just anyone. If Sunday evenings cause anxiety because you dread facing your boss on Monday morning, it’s important to find someone to confide in. While we often form strong, comfortable bonds with our coworkers, it’s best to not share how much you hate your job with others in the office. And it should go without saying, but please don’t take to social media channels to vent your frustration. Family and friends are often an obvious choice, but they may not always understand or be able to relate to what’s causing your dissatisfaction at work. In these instances, try to find a mentor, former coworker / manager, or career coach to discuss what’s causing your dissatisfaction at work and what you’d rather be doing instead.
- Train and grow. Does your company offer education reimbursement or pay for professional development trainings? If so, what are you waiting for? You can help your current employer by becoming more valuable in your current role while also becoming more marketable for what you’d like to do next. Look for opportunities to take continuing education courses or career development trainings that align with your career goals. Even if this means giving up a few nights or weekends for a few months (or even a couple of years), putting yourself on a path to pursue what you’re truly passionate about will make it all the more worthwhile.
- Pursue a day (or night) hustle. Ask about opportunities to work on that exciting new project in another department or with another team that you heard about. Or maybe it’s finally taking the time to begin pursuing that amazing new startup idea you and a few friends have been discussing for some time now. Or maybe it’s launching a part-time consulting business doing what you really love. Whatever the case, you may find your side hustle turns out to be your next full-time job. Finding ways to carve time out of the week to pursue what you truly enjoy may be the key to unlocking that new career you love!
- Network, network, network. Don’t just sit at your desk – or at home at night – and wallow in self-pity. Embrace the challenge to find something new that energizes you by making the most of networking events and other opportunities to meet fresh faces around town. Come out to one of our upcoming New Tech events, or circle our next New Tech Job Fair on your calendar (past employers have included Nintendo, Pokémon, Amazon, Oracle, Google, Microsoft, REI, AWS, eBay, T-Mobile, University of Washington, Northeastern University, Seattle University, and dozens of others). Network and find time to talk with others in whatever field you’re considering to uncover potential openings that align with your dream job.
Hopefully these tips will help you survive – and perhaps even uncover a few new ways to thrive – at your current job while pursuing that dream career. Please feel free to hit up the comments below to share advice or steps you’ve taken to make the most of a job you didn’t love.