You're not the only one out there working for paychecks.
In fact, two-thirds of Americans feel disengaged at work (or worse), according to a Gallup study on the American workplace. Moreover, another 16 percent of American employees report that they are “actively disengaged” in that they resent their jobs, they find themselves griping to co-workers and they tend to drag down the overall office morale as a result of their behavior.
"We spend one-third (or more) of our days at work," writes J.T. O'Donnell, counder and CEO of WorkItDaily.com for Inc in her piece, I Spent 15 Years Studying Why People Hate Their Jobs. This Is the Top Reason. "Work defines us as people, i.e., when we aren't happy at work, other areas of our life suffer. Yet more than 70 percent of workers say they don't feel satisfied with their career choices, and I believe we have serious epidemic on our hands."
And the issue is that too many people stick around in jobs that they can't stand or that add stress to their lives (we're not talking the everyday, inevitable work stress we all have). Too many people become complacent because they're comfortable in their discomfort at work — it's what they know, and quitting to find a job they like takes effort and a leap into the unknown.
Besides, what if you can't even find a job that you do actually like?
The reality is that, if you look hard enough, open your mind to the opportunities that are out there and be willing to take a step outside of your comfort zone, you can and will find a job that brings you joy.
If you don't, here are seven reasons why you may not be able to find a job you like.
1. You don't have the experience you need.
In other words, you're underqualified for the jobs that you would probably like. You might not have the skills or experience necessary for the jobs that sound appealing to you, so you don't even bother applying to them. But that's a mistake you might be making! Instead of throwing those opportunities to the wayside, why not reconsider how you approach these job openings and get yourself the experience you need to apply the next time around? How do I find a job with no experience? That feels like an impossible question to answer. But this may mean that you have to go back to school, go through training, get certified, work part-time jobs, volunteer, work internships and more to help you build up your resume.
2. You need another degree.
Maybe you're working for a business as a sales representative but you want to be a manager — and all the managers at the companies have MBAs. You might need a higher degree of education in order to land a job or a promotion for a job that you'll actually like doing. This will require you to go back to school in order to get yourself that MBA or Master's degree, Ph.D. or something else entirely.
3. You're not competing for the jobs you like.
Sometimes (OK, oftentimes) the competition is just plain stiff. You may be applying to very popular jobs that receive hundreds or thousands of applications because, after all, they're likable jobs. So it's inevitable that you'll be compared against all these other qualified candidates who may have more or even better experiences than you. Knowing that, you might be quick to dismiss a job and not apply in the first place — and you could quite literally be throwing opportunities away. You might also not be putting your best foot forward in truly competing for the jobs you really want because you're busy churning out applications with quantity over quality in mind.
4. You're overqualified for the jobs you like.
Maybe the job you want is one that's lesser than you. Your education and/or years of experience may be over-qualifying you for the jobs you actually want to work. In this case, you might have to be willing to take a pay cut or demotion in your title.
5. You don't vibe with hiring managers.
Sometimes, when you really want a job, you come across like... well, you really want the job. And you focus so much on impressing the hiring manager that you forget altogether that the hiring manager is also a human — and you should vibe with them in the interview in order to assure them that you'll fit the company culture and be a good employee and colleague with whom to work. Trying too hard can feel inauthentic and push the jobs you like away.
6. You're closeminded to opportunities.
Maybe you're getting job offers or finding job listings on job boards that you'd really like if you actually gave them a shot, but you refuse to because you have one idea of your ideal job in your head and you will not settle for anything other than that. But if you opened your eyes to the various opportunities around you and actually kept an open mind, you might stumble into some kind of job you'd never have known you actually love.
7. You're not looking in the right places.
What to do if you can't find a job? Especially a job you like? Maybe you need to look elsewhere! You don't need to go the traditional route to hunt for a job. Going online and browsing through millions of job postings for big corporations might not be your thing — and that's OK! Perhaps you'd prefer to work for a small business or a startup that doesn't have the budget to advertise for the openings they have or that doesn't realize that they need you yet. Maybe reaching out to companies you'd like to work for, even if they're not outwardly hiring, could land you a job you actually enjoy instead of applying for what's publicized just for the sake of getting any job.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.