What to do when you hate your job? You definitely can’t talk about it. Your spouse may commiserate with you but will ultimately tell you that you have to keep earning a living. Your friends will tell you to suck it up and to be happy you even have a job. And, of course, they are right. You’ve got to pay the bills and there are millions who are unemployed that would kill to have a job they hated. So what should you do? If you’re feeling particularly philosophical (or maybe nostalgic for early 80s pop music), you may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”
Just because you have to earn a living and just because there are people who are unemployed doesn’t mean you have to (a) love your job or (b) be condemned to a life where you hate driving to work every morning. Here are three options to help you create a richer life by getting out of a job you hate:
- New skills. If you’re on a dead-end career track and don’t see things getting any better for you, use the other 8 hours to get some new skills. But not just any skills. French for beginners and watercolor painting don’t count. I’m talking about very specific and marketable skills you know companies are seeking. Something you can learn and immediately use to get several better paying job offers. Maybe it’s data entry, customer service skills, medical billing, or paralegal training. If you’re short on money and/or time, don’t bother with a degree — these are too general, and you won’t learn a specific skill you can use on Monday morning. Instead, get a certificate or designation. These are much more specialized and are what some companies want to see on a resume.
- Bouncing. If you don’t have any skills and are stuck in a real dead-end job (e.g., one where moving up to “fry guy” is a promotion), you’ve got to get creative. Stay employed at Dead End, Inc., but use the other 8 hours to learn a specific and marketable skill (see above). This one skill won’t get you your dream job, but it should pay better than your current job and give you a new experience. Once you’ve got this new job, use the other 8 hours to learn a new skill. This new skill might help you move up the corporate ladder where you are employed or (more likely) it might be in a completely different industry. Again, this new skill needs to be in demand and the job you get should pay better than the job you have. Guess what? You keep doing this — learning new skills and getting better paying jobs — until you are making good money doing something you love.
- New career. Whether you’ve bounced your way up or you are just not satisfied with your current career choice, you can use the other 8 hours to get a new career. First you’ve got to figure out what you want to do. Focus on your strengths and identify a career that you’d not only be good at doing, but one that you’d be happy doing. Learn what it takes to get that job. Do an informational interview. What education is required? What skills are needed? Get a book from the library and research the career. Nearly every industry has a trade magazine. Get old copies. Start reading what they read. Attend a trade-show or conference. Immerse yourself in the career you want. You can ask yourself “How did I get here?”, but a more proactive and solution-focused approach is to ask “How did they get here?” Learn and model what others have done and are doing. This takes time, but that’s what the other 8 hours are for.
If you’re in a job that you hate, don’t feel guilty about wanting something better. Use your unhappiness as a motivator to make some changes. You’ll spend more time at your job than you will with your family and friends. You might as well make it as rewarding as you can. If you don’t, at the end of it all you may ask yourself, “My God! What have I done?”
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