Got a bad job? Not a problem … just leave it. Except sometimes you can’t leave it. And just knowing that you’re stuck makes that bad job of yours feel a whole lot worse.
So is there anything you can do when you feel so trapped? Can you magically make a job you can’t stand into a dream job? Well, while in some cases that’s actually possible, in most situations the odds of doing that are very slim.
What Exactly is a Bad Job?
The funny thing is — not that it feels funny in a humorous sense — the very same awful job can be exactly what another person enjoys. Or at least finds good enough for them. But that does not take away from the way you feel about your job.
If you’re unhappy, then the very least you can do is take some actions to improve things where you are. Or start planning your getaway. Even if it may take a while to move on. But first let’s look at the kinds of things that can make a job bad:
- Bad boss
- Mean or uncooperative coworkers
- Not enough money
- Boring work
- No chance for advancement
- Being asked to do things you know is wrong
- Poor management that makes your job harder
- Feeling left out of things / outsider
- Location / hours / rules don’t work for you
- Doing a job that feels empty / meaningless
So what can you try to change?
Simply put, when you have a bad job you can either choose to stay or go. If you do stay you also have a choice: do you just ride it out (see next section) or try to change things for yourself.
While it’s not always possible to change your situation enough to make it tolerable, there are a few things you can try:
- Is it possible to talk to your boss about things that could make the job better for you?
HINT: As a rule it probably helps not to start this off by offering a list of complaints. That would simply put your boss on the defensive and make YOU seem like the problem. Not fair, but how it often works.
Instead, start with things you like (find something) and suggest one or two things you’d like to take on or learn that would be helpful to both you and the department.
- If coworkers or how you’re viewed is the problem, find an ally if you don’t already have one. Again, not a gossip or complaint ally (hard to change things from that angle) but someone respected that you slowly win over.
- Look for things you can become an expert in on your own that you enjoy. Something others need or that you can add to the day that actually makes you smile.
Again, sometimes you just can’t fix a bad job. But always good to try if possible. You can find more tips here about things you can do about helping improve your job — and also what might be going on inside you that you actually have some control over::
⇒ Workplace Solutions (Where You Are)
⇒ Your Brain at Work
How to ride out that awful job
And sometimes, for reasons that fit your needs at the moment, you just need to stay and ride it out. And find ways to make the best of it. At least until you can find a better enough next move.
OK. I know it’s NOT easy to get through day after day of a job you can’t stand. The annoyances build up. And so does your frustration with just being there. Been there. Done that. Some tips I hope can help:
⇒ Staying Sane Through Tough Day at Work (or Trying)
And if it’s a new job … sometimes even one that looks like a mistake from the outset can turn out ok. Time might be on your side there. Some things to consider:
⇒ Why You Need To Give a New Job Time
Planning your exit if all else fails
Even if you’re choosing to ride a bad job out or try to change things, you can start doing some next step thinking right away. Only you know what next steps would work for you, but some things to think about:
- Start exploring topics / careers / industries you would enjoy. You can begin online and then maybe find some groups to join or schedule some informational interviews.
- Teach yourself a new skill that can lead to a better job.
- Enroll in courses or pursue a degree if you really need that.
- Sometimes finding some part-time freelance work or “apprentice” work can lead to the next career.
- Start reviving networking contacts or create new ones.
- Whatever the eventual goal, start now. Even if you try staying, odds are you’ll want to be in a better situation down the road. Preparing for it now is a great first step.
In case you really do need to leave
⇒ How To Quit a Job (Without Hurting Yourself)
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