Let’s face it — nobody does cartwheels at the thought of the weekend coming to a close. But if every Sunday night you’re overcome with an unmistakable feeling of dread when you think about heading into the office the following morning? There’s no sugarcoating it — you hate your job.
In that scenario, the next logical question is this: Now what? What can you realistically do when your current position is oh-so-groan-worthy?
Well, that all depends on whether you plan to stay and make the most of it or pack up your desk and hit the road in search of greener pastures.
Here are 10 different things you can do when you hate your job — depending on which of those two categories you fall into.
If You Need to Stay…
Maybe you just don’t have anything else lined up yet. Or, perhaps you only started that job a few months ago and know that leaving now would definitely put a measurable dent in your professional reputation.
Either way, you know that you need to stick it out in that job — at least for a little while longer. Fortunately, there are some productive and professional ways that you can cope (and even leverage!) your current situation.
1. Forge bonds with your co-workers.
You don’t like what you do. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t like who you do it with.
When we’re miserable at work, that quickly colors our perception of our colleagues. But, chances are, you have at least a few awesome team members who could make your days spent in the office at least a little bit brighter.
Ask someone to grab a quick lunch. Or, organize an after-work happy hour for your department. You’ll forge some office friendships while also expanding your professional network — which is helpful if and when you do decide to job hunt again.
2. Approach your boss about a new project.
What’s one of the main reasons that you hate your job? If boredom is one of the first things to spring to your mind, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands.
Set up a time when you could chat with your boss about how you could expand your experience and skill set. Maybe there’s a challenging new project you could spearhead. Or, perhaps there’s an opportunity to work cross-functionally and learn from a totally different department.
Those are great ways to squeeze every last drop of value from that experience, while also potentially reigniting your passion for your role.
3. Start a side hustle or passion project.
Here’s the brutal truth that not too many people tell you: Not everybody finds a job that sets their heart on fire. Sometimes you need to settle for something that pays the bills.
But, even if that’s the case, that doesn’t mean you’re destined for a totally unfulfilling professional life.
If you’re feeling stuck in your current situation, consider starting up a side hustle or a passion project that you can throw yourself into outside of working hours. Remember, your nine-to-five job doesn’t need to be the only professional experience capable of fulfilling you.
4. Make a list of objectives.
The fact that you’ve decided to stay in that job for the foreseeable future doesn’t give you permission to just bide your time. It’s still a job, and you should plan to make the most of that experience — even if it’s just to boost your future credentials.
Sit down and think about some real things that you could get from that job. Could you refine an important skill for your industry? Make some valuable connections? Get a glowing recommendation from your boss?
List those objectives out. They’ll serve as your motivation to keep pushing forward — even when you’d rather do anything else.
5. Keep a positive attitude.
I know — this is so cliche, right? And, in most cases, it’s far easier said than done.
However, think of it this way: Constantly grumbling about how much you loathe your position won’t do you any favors. In fact, it’ll only send your own spirits (not to mention the attitude of everyone around you!) into a nosedive.
So, make your best effort to focus on the positives of that role—even if it’s just those few key things you’re hoping to achieve. Do what you can to keep a somewhat upbeat attitude, and you’ll do yourself and your entire team a big favor.
If You’re Planning to Leave…
You can’t take it anymore — you need to leave that dreadful job.
But, before you stroll out of that office door (or even start job hunting) in a blaze of glory, there are a few things you should make sure to do so that you can quit without burning any bridges.
6. Continue to do solid work.
Even though you’re planning to leave in the near future, it’s important to remember that you’re still there now — and that this experience is still going to play a role in your overall professional reputation.
For that reason, you need to make the most of the time you have left — no matter how short. Leverage every possible opportunity that you can. Network with your colleagues and professional contacts you’ve met through that job. Take on those big projects or presentations.
You’ll not only impress your boss (which will come in handy if you need a recommendation in the future!) and prove your value, but you’ll also boost your resume (which you’ll need when you actually start job searching).
Put simply, having one eye on the door doesn’t give you permission to slack off.
7. Keep your lips zipped.
Chances are, you’re going to need to start your search for a new gig—particularly if you want to have something lined up by the time you put in your two weeks notice.
That’s understandable. But, when you do start job searching, make sure to do so discreetly. Don’t gossip to your co-workers about the interview you have lined up that afternoon. And definitely don’t make any backhanded comments like, “I can’t wait to get out of here,” while you’re gathered around the break room coffee pot.
Nobody can blame you for looking for a new opportunity. However, you need to do so with a certain level of respect and professionalism.
8. Make notes of your most impressive accomplishments.
Preparing to tackle a new job search means you’re going to get to take on the always-exciting task of polishing up your resume.
Chances are, by the time you get around to that, you aren’t going to remember the most important accomplishments from the role you’re in now. After some time has passed, you aren’t going to easily recall the percentage by which you grew the company’s newsletter list or the number of attendees who came to that luncheon you coordinated.
Those are all important metrics for quantifying your resume — and you’re going to want them. Find a way to take note of them now (when you still have access to them!) so that you have those statistics when you need them.
9. Make a list of values.
While it’s nowhere near as fun, a job that you don’t like can be just as enlightening as a job that you love. Why? Well, because it’ll make you aware of all of the things you are (and aren’t!) looking for in your next role and employer.
There’s no better time to think through those values than when you’re still stuck in a job that makes you cringe.
So, while you’re still employed, do some self-reflection and make a list of the things you do and don’t like about your current situation. That’ll be helpful information when you begin your search for your next opportunity.
10. Begin to map out a transition plan.
There are those things you know you’ll need to take care of for yourself in order to transition out of your existing job and into a new one — everything from re-doing your resume to maybe even saving some money.
However, the best employees also map out transition plans for their employers. Having someone leave a job can really throw a wrench into things for companies. And if you’re eager to avoid burning bridges, think of some ways that you could make your departure a little easier.
Whether that involves creating a manual of sorts for the new hire or even offering to assist with some training, figuring out even small things you can do to ease the burden will go a long way in helping you leave that job without torching your reputation.
Hating your job isn’t fun, and it’s usually enough to make you feel like you have absolutely zero control over your desperate situation.
But here’s the good news: You have way more control than you think you do — you just need to use it. Whether you’re planning to stay or go, put these tips to work for you and you’re sure to make the very most of that experience (no matter how dreadful).
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