What to Do When You Hate Your Job

June 4, 2018

If the occasional Sunday-night blues have morphed into the all-day-long blues because you’re dreading Monday’s arrival that bad, you might hate your job. But what to do? “Get a new one, duh” is easy advice, but the issue with immediately diving into another job is that it puts you in a devil-you-know conundrum: However great your shiny new job appears initially, doesn’t mean that you won’t be hating it even more than your old job a few months in once your boss stops being polite and starts getting real. Before you impulsively head for the exit, there are a few steps you can take—from honestly assessing your workstyle to scheduling a sit-down with your boss. And if it’s still not working? Then it’s time to dust off the ole resume.

Keep that lip buttoned up!

OK, so you can bitch, whine, and moan to your closest friends and family (as long as they don’t overlap with your colleague group), but you don’t want to broadcast your discontent at work—maintaining even a modicum of positivity will make your day more pleasant. (Ever heard that smiling can actually make you happier?) And definitely don’t post "I hate my job" missives on social media. Facebook privacy settings are notoriously difficult to parse.

Take an honest look at yourself.

Is it possible the issue isn’t the job—but you? Do you clam up when presenting? Consider taking a Toastmasters course. Constantly feel overwhelmed? Work some tried-and-true time-management strategies into your rotation. Eat lunch at your desk, then complain you haven’t seen the sun all day (we’re guilty!)? If you can’t spring for a full-blown lunch break, at least take a working walk where you spend time brainstorming.

Identify the problem.

If you’ve taken a cold hard look at yourself, and the problem is your job...definitely your job. Spend some time identifying what exactly about your job is the issue. This might sound extreme, but if it was a one-time instance that you still have nightmares about (say a fraught conflict with a coworker), you might honestly want to consider a few therapy sessions that can equip you with the tools to move past it. But if your workplace issues are ongoing, read on.

Attempt workplace shifts.

Before you hit the exit, try to determine if there are any real changes you can make. Can you be transferred to another department? Will your work accommodate an alternative work schedule that lets you work from home two afternoons or one day a week? And if boredom is the issue, volunteer for a new project that might challenge you.

Prep for a job hunt.

Unless the need to disembark is dire (say, harassment coupled with an unsupportive HR department), spend some time getting your ducks in a row before you jump ship: Update your resume, website (if you have one), and LinkedIn (with the share buttons turned off so your changes aren't broadcast to your network); Google yourself and make sure nothing untoward comes up that needs attention; and ping your references to let them know you’ll be leaning on them.

Start searching.

Sign up for job-board notifications on sites like CareerBuilder, put out feelers to your friend and colleague group (making sure those included can be appropriately discreet so word doesn’t get back to your boss), set up informational interviews, and hit networking events.

Tread carefully in interviews.

As tempting as it can be to throw your former job, boss, and colleagues under the bus—just don’t. Potential employers don’t want to picture you trashing them in a couple years, and if your industry is small your complaints could easily make their way to someone at your current company. Instead take the high road, which means remaining neutral, and focusing your conversation on your excitement about the new job as opposed to your gripes with your current one.

Resign gracefully.

Yay! You landed something awesome, so here come those exit interviews. Calm, constructive criticism is what we’re shooting for. No bridge burning. At some point in the future you might need a references from here, or someone from your old company might join your new company and you don’t want the relationship to be uncomfortable from the get-go.

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