Updated 22 October 2019
Many people find themselves in a job they dislike.
It may be that you’ve just started a new job and it’s not what you’d envisaged, or that you’ve been in the same job for a while and have lost interest in it. Many factors can impact the work environment and lead you to feel that you are not satisfied with the job you are in.
Job roles do not always turn out as advertised – the reality of a job may be that you are spending long hours on something you thought would be a side role, or you find you are not suited to a role you were positive would be a great fit.
Sometimes we expect that a certain role will stretch and challenge us, but find ourselves feeling dissatisfied and undervalued in the position.
Problems with colleagues can cause unnecessary tension, fatigue and frustration, while poor management can lead to your boss becoming more of a hindrance than a help.
If you are feeling uncomfortable or drained in your current job, it is important to consider why you are feeling this way. Working in an environment or job role that you are not happy with will not bring out the best in yourself or the organisation you work for.
It is important to look after your mental health and take positive steps to improve the situation.
First, think about what it is about your job that you dislike – is it the tasks you have to complete? The environment? Your colleagues? The management style? The workplace culture?
Narrowing down where your feelings of dissatisfaction are emanating from is the only way to determine whether these are issues that can be addressed, or whether it may be time to consider a change of employer and/or focus.
Writing out a list of the things you like and dislike about your job can help to identify not only what the source of your malaise is, but also highlight the parts of your job that you enjoy.
This is useful for trying to stay positive in the immediate weeks and for identifying your priorities.
Most people do not have the luxury of being able to leave a job they dislike straight away. Financial and contractual obligations can tie you in longer than would be preferable.
It is, however, possible to improve happiness in the short term by focusing on the parts of your job that you enjoy. That could include working on a particular account, going to a certain weekly meeting, or just having lunch with your colleagues.
Keeping your concerns to yourself will only mean feelings of increased resentment and no resolution. It is important to raise any issues you have with someone in management that you trust.
This may not necessarily be your boss, as it will depend on where the source of your grievance lies. It may be another senior manager, the HR department or, if you work in a small company, perhaps the company director.
Talking through your concerns in a safe and private space is the only way to see if they can be addressed to make your working life happier.
If your discontent with your job comes from feelings of repetition, lack of challenge or that tasks you once found interesting have become mundane, consider a secondment opportunity.
This will enable you to stay with your current employer whilst experiencing a new working environment, new clients, colleagues and, perhaps, new responsibilities. It may be the new challenge and change of scene that you are craving.
A secondment may be an attractive option if you have been working your way up the ladder in a company for a while and, though dissatisfied with your current role, you don't wish to leave the organisation and the professional relationships you have built.
When you have a secure job, it is all too easy to let your self-marketing materials become out of date.
If your profile needs some rejuvenation, see our article: 10 Tips for a Better LinkedIn Profile.
Remember that you are advertising yourself to potential employers, so be confident and unafraid to sell your skills and attributes.
You may be feeling undervalued or lethargic in your current role, but you have a variety of skills that will be great assets to a new company.
Networking is a key way to make connections and potentially fast-track your way to a new job that may suit your skill set better.
When attending conferences, speak to key delegates and give them your business card. It is important that business networking is as organic as possible – tap into the networks you have through your current job.
Be subtle in your approach; it may be a case of simply putting out feelers and making new connections. These may prove useful later when you decide your path forward.
It's also worth contacting past colleagues, old tutors and friends, as opportunities can come from many unexpected places.
Be respectful when reaching out and asking for favours from acquaintances; reconnect with them on a professional platform such as LinkedIn first, and then invite them for a meeting.
If you are feeling dissatisfied with your current job or career path, talking to a career counsellor may help.
A career counsellor is trained to identify your skills, strengths and personality traits, to help you decide upon a career path that is best suited to you. They can also help with your job search, since they should have a wide knowledge of different careers, and can help you train up in any skills you need to acquire.
It is common to feel confused and daunted about the direction to take your career, particularly if you have trained for years to work in a role that you now dislike.
Take heart from the fact that you are in control of the direction of your career, and able to make the changes necessary to secure a job that will suit you.
If you have been working in the same sector for a while or this isn’t the first job you have felt unhappy in, don’t be afraid to consider making a change that will improve your happiness.
Many people don’t have the courage to make what may initially seem to be a step backwards by retraining or changing sector. But think about your satisfaction and fulfilment long term. If you are under 30, you still have over 35 years of working life to navigate and, hopefully, take pleasure from.
It is never too late to learn a new skill to diversify your offering, take a shot at a promotion or turn a hobby into an income stream. There are now many online learning platforms and MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) available, meaning that learning a new skill no longer needs to cost (much) money.
Look into general industry requirements as well as employer requirements for the role you would like to obtain, to ensure you are focusing on the most relevant and beneficial skills.
If you are feeling unhappy in your current role and cannot see how the situation could be rectified, it may be time to start looking for a new job online.
Whether or not you have made a final decision regarding the path forward, looking at other job opportunities will help to give you an idea of the alternatives. It may provide the inspiration you need to make a positive change.
WikiJob has an article on the 10 best UK job boards in 2019, which is a great starting point for research into roles you may find more fulfilling. It will help you to decide which boards and websites are best suited to your job search.
It is important to keep the fact you are searching for a new job confidential, so that your current employer doesn’t find out before you are ready for them to know.
Search on your own time and make sure your current employer will not be contacted if you express an interest in a particular role.
If you are unable to reconcile your differences with your current role, it may be time to resign. You will need to inform your employer of your decision, state your reasons and give your notice period.
Remember to thank your employer for the valuable experiences you have had whilst in the role.
Once again, it is important to handle the situation professionally and respectfully. Leaving your employer on positive terms is the best outcome and will mean that, if needed, you can contact them for a reference in the future.
Be willing to help with the transitional phase, whether it be creating a comprehensive handover document or training up a new recruit.
When you hate your job, it can be hard to keep your emotions under wraps. Yet you must conduct yourself with professional dignity until the very end.
Here are some things you might wish to avoid:
If you hate your current job, it is important to explore the causes and attempt to rectify them in a professional and considered manner.
If you have given the role a fair chance and still the source of your dissatisfaction cannot be addressed, do not be afraid to leave.
Maintain professional integrity throughout the process and move onwards to a new role that will bring out the best in you.
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