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BY Mandy Menaker

How to Deal When You Hate Your Job

woman bored at work

Photo credit: © vladimirfloyd / Adobe Stock

TAGS:Professional development, Career advice, Career development

You’ve already recognized something is off in your current role or current job. There may be a very obvious reason you’re unhappy, such as catty colleagues or long commute, or you may just have outgrown your role and be feeling stuck and want a new job. Or maybe you actually like your current job but you find yourself saying, "I hate my boss." Before making a snap decision to quit, take a bit of time to reflect on why you’re feeling bored, uninspired or miserable.

It's especially important to take a moment to reflect on your situation as rationally and with some detachment from your emotions if you've gotten to the point where you want to scream, "I hate my job" to coworkers. While it's important to listen to your emotions, making a decision that's as big as deciding to quit and leave for a new job is something to take seriously and with full consideration of all the facts and angles.

We understand that it can be hard to figure out how to deal with your situation when you hate your job, but here are a few things to consider. These are things you can think over quiet ly to yourself, or simply jot down a few notes in a journal to help you process everything. Perhaps you're more social and need to have a few drinks with your non-work related girlfriends, before giving your notice. These questions will help you to gauge whether there are opportunities to improve your work situation or if it’s time to start looking for a better fit.

Am I still growing in this role?

This may have been your dream job two years ago, but that initial excitement has long warn off and maybe your motivation levels are low. Tasks that originally seemed challenging are now routine, and the job is starting to feel a bit monotonous and you're filled with less inspiration.

Is there a promotion you can go after that would be not only a change in title but also a change in responsibilities? Is there an exciting project you can volunteer for within your existing structure? Can you redirect some energy towards mentoring a more junior employee? Is there any more you can do or take on to make the job more challenging and to engage you further?

Sometimes you can have a supportive manager or colleague whom you can confide these feelings. Be careful in how you communcate -- and be ready to suggest proactive solutions -- not just raise the problem and dump it on his / her lap. The fact that you have ambitions and want to take on more responsibility can be viewed very positively but you must be careful to frame the topic with some amount of tact.

Even if your gut is telling you to start applying elsewhere for new jobs, consider what additional skills you can pick up before you go, or who else on your team you can help grow into your position.

Do I like my team and manager?

If the thing making you despise work is a toxic environment, such as gossiping colleagues or a micromanaging boss, the situation may be much harder to remedy. However, there are still a few steps you can take depending on the size of your organization and the exact nature of the problem?

Can you move your desk to somewhere else in the office or request a transfer to a different team? Can you proactively attend a few more happy hours or ask teammates to lunch to build better social rapport? Have you had an honest conversation with your manager about how you are feeling to see if there are ways to improve the situation?

If you hate your boss and like your work, consider the fact that many women in the Fairygodboss community often report higher job satisfaction levels in the same role across different employers and even different jobs. You can look proactively for jobs in another department, asking for the help of the HR team if you need to suggest internal roles quietly. You may need to have a high level of trust in whom you talk to at the workplace, especially if your manager or boss is territorial or you believe this information may be used against you in some way during your performance reviews or requests for more pay.

Interpersonal dynamics can be some of the hardest things to navigate at an office, especially when things are going poorly. Sometimes you will simply not click with a team as well as you hoped, and it’s okay to start thinking about making a change. However, consider how you can leave on the best terms possible, or if there’s another team within your organization that may be a healthier fit without completely jumping ship. After all, you never know whether your new job will come with similar issues and collegial problems.

Does this type of work still feel fulfilling?

You may still love the hours and level of responsibility of your position, but a career in a completely different field intrigues you. Alternately, you may still love your field, but can no longer keep up with the travel, stress or requirements of your role. The next step? Start exploring other options by learning from other professionals in your dream jobs.

Begin with your existing network. Reach out to people with titles and roles that intrigue you, and ask if they are willing to share more about their day-to-day over coffee. Ask questions such as what they love and don’t love about their position, and listen to discover if these roles would be a good fit for you to work towards. They may even know of a few open roles or companies that are hiring!

If you can’t find people in your existing network, try Shapr, a completely free app for meeting nearby professionals who share your interests. Just set your interests to those that you hope to lean into, and start making valuable connections to learn from others in the field you’re exploring.


Am I expecting too much? Or too soon?

Sometimes it's our expectations about how we should feel about our jobs that causes us to suffer more than we need to. After all, while some lucky people are known for living out Steve Jobs' quotes to the fullest (Read: "Do the job you love), most of us simply do our work so we can bring home a paycheck and support ourselves and our families' basic needs. Fulfillment is something that we should certainly aspire to in our every day work, but sometimes it is not always meant to be in every single moment of every single job. Be clear on whether your expectations are reasonable, especially if you are an intern or early in your career. 

Even if you are more senior in your career, ask yourself how your life and work intersect. For some of us, we work to live and others live to work and there is a whole swath of people inbetween. If you talk to any career coach, you may hear that it's a Platonic ideal to love your work but it is also quite frankly, probably a luxury that not all of us can expect in every job we hold in our careers.


Have I asked for what I want?

Maybe it is a promotion or more pay, or an office relocation that you're after. Maybe you want more job flexibility or greater work-life balance, or other employee benefits. Be sure that you don't just assume that these things will never be given to you. You may have to face up to having a tough conversation but sometimes those tough salary negotiations can actually lead to a raise, or some changes. If you've already decided you may want to move on to another job, there is certainly no downside in asking for what you want, even if the request makes you uncomfortable.

Be sure to arm yourself with information about how best to have some of these conversations and assume that you can be successful in order to give yourself the best odds of having the most options. Nobody wants to be painted into a corner and feel like they are being forced to quit, after all. It's always better to have multiple choices.


Do you have the financial luxury of quitting before you have a new job?

Some of us can quit without another job lined up, particularly if we have savings or another family member's earnings to rely on. However, many of us with real financial constraints and demands on our budget that will require some time to change. Whether that's changing where you live or cutting back on extras, you may have to consider whether money allows you to change jobs. Golden handcuffs are real and they can prevent people from finding a job with greater job satisfaction.

Moreover, depending on what kind of job and career change you're contemplating, many a career coach would tell you that while money doesn't bring you happiness and deep fulfillment, many of us also have our self-worth tied up in jobs considered to have status or that bring a lot of money rewards.


What is the right timing?

If things are not dire or you're not dealing with legally or morally unacceptable situation, you may want to consider the timing of any job change. Do you want to leave your bonus on the table? Do you want to switch jobs right before the holidays? Are you feeling like you hate the job because you've just come back from maternity leave and don't want to be anywhere but with your baby? What if you've just started a new job and you already hate it? Certain situations call for a bit more patience even if you feel very strongly that something is wrong. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here -- just guidelines but it is good to consider whether you are making a decision prematurely or more information could come to light before then.

No matter the reason you are hoping to make a change, identify the main reasons you are unhappy before you start a job search. These answers will help you to find a better long term fit, and help you gain clarity in the next role you hope to fill.   

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Mandy Menaker is the Head of PR and Brand Development at Shapr, a free networking app for meeting likeminded professionals near you. When not writing about networking, fitness, and travel (three very awesome things) she can be found cycling through Manhattan with her 6 lb Maltipoo catching a ride.

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