Quitting the Job You Dislike Can Nudge You to the Right Career

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The most successful and happy employees Nathan Gebhard has met in the past 15 years are ones who “chased after an interest instead of an occupation.”

As a co-founder of Roadtrip Nation, the PBS series that interviews people from a wide spectrum of occupations, the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based creative director found that individuals who have built their livelihoods around what they like to do tend to be more fulfilled.

Instead of focusing on what is the right or wrong career for them, people should explore an interest and figure out if their skills match up with it. While it is good to experiment at different occupations, it is important to be decisive and “chose what’s most interesting to you right now,” he said.

“Pursuing an occupation is like taking binoculars and looking at them backwards and having tunnel vision,” Gebhard said. “Most of us lose sight of the opportunities around us.”

While common sense often dictates that frustrated workers who dislike their jobs or even their bosses or co-workers should think twice before they quit their current position, other options exists such as asking for different responsibilities or being transferred to another office.

Even workers who are utterly discouraged by their current job should continue looking for another position before they resign. The majority of employers seek to hire workers who are employed, said Ryan Naylor, president of LocalWork.com, a Phoenix-based employment website.

“We don't advise job seekers to quit their job, because employers see quitting as a red flag,” he said. “There are ways to spin the situation if you do quit, but it's best to avoid it if possible.”

Advantages of Keeping Your Job

Employees who feel discouraged or bored at their current job are likely to keep their skills sharper if they keep working, said Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster, the Weston, Mass.-based employment website.

“Even if you don't enjoy the job, you're still immersed within your field on a daily basis,” she said.

This also gives you an opportunity to identify what you dislike about the job, which will “help identify what you absolutely must have in a job during your next search, Salemi said.

In the meantime, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, attend networking events or meetings and start sending out job applications, said Naylor. This will help you avoid gaps on your resume.

Remaining employed, of course, means you also don’t have to worry about a change in your health insurance.

“You'll still be involved with a daily routine of a commute and interacting with others,” she said. “Sometimes people overlook these daily activities.”

Many workers are discouraged, because they dislike their team members due to a lack of cooperation or contribution. To combat a negative situation, start by creating a game plan “that revolves around only working with them,” Salemi said. In this strategy, you can create a productive work environment, but you do not need to engage with them socially, so skip even having coffee with them.

“Be the person by which everyone is impressed,” she said. "Don't let your true feelings show and treat them how you want to be treated in a positive work environment.”

If you decide to stick it out until you find a better gig, view this as an opportunity you can discuss in a job interview on how you “able to make the best out of a bad situation,” Salemi said.

Inevitably, you might share the same feelings about your boss or manager. Create some strategies to “survive,” especially if you have a boss who is a micromanager. Be proactive and provide weekly reports before you're asked to submit them, she recommends. Try to figure out what work style makes him or her happy and see if it is possible to change your work habits.

Drawbacks To Staying Too Long

Employees who are unsure of whether to stick in their current job should take a look at their current situation and try to “build a life and not a resume,” Gebhard said. Many people are driven by actions that will look good on their resume or LinkedIn profile. The missing piece for many people is that they are “chasing praise.”

While Gebhard said he could have been successful as a business consultant, the occupation he had planned to pursue after college, it would not have been a fulfilling occupation. Gebhard said he would have likely continued to work in that field, because what keeps many people in their current positions is the positive validation they receive.

“People often abandon these actual interests that they have,” he said. “The longer you stick it out while you hate it without doing something, however small, to start moving in a different direction, the more resentment and unhappiness that will bleed into other parts of your life.”

If you have reached levels of extreme exasperation and tried asking for different projects, it might be time to make the switch. Depressed and irritable employees will not only feel unmotivated at work, but it can take a toll on your health in terms of sleep deprivation, stress, and anxiety, Salemi said.

Job dissatisfaction is becoming increasingly common as many workers are faced with greater responsibilities and lackluster raises. If you have tried to improve a difficult situation with your manager or colleagues, you can opt to speak with the HR department to discuss options.

A recent survey from Accountemps found that 73% of employees said they would feel comfortable looking for a new job while they are still employed. Many people often believe they have the “greatest leverage to explore new career opportunities while still employed,” said Bill Driscoll, a district director of Accountemps, a Menlo Park, Calif. staffing firm.

One option is to seek out recruiting firms who can conduct discreet searches since the firm will “promote you and you don’t have to post resumes or take any other actions that might tip off your current employer,” he said.

Interviewing for jobs while you are still swamped with meetings and producing reports can be a challenge. Schedule your interviews during lunch or before or after work. Save your vacation and sick days for interviews, Naylor said.

Bridging one career move to another is easier these days since searching for a job during work hours can be impossible or risky, said John Krautzel, a vice president at Beyond, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based employment website. Instead, sign up for text message or email job alerts “which can feed you leads straight to your phone without the risk of your current employer finding out about your search,” he said.

The potential for burnout in some careers is high, so don’t allow it to stunt your career, Krautzel said.

“You may be wasting your best years in a negative space, while there are more positive and healthy environments out there to best grow your skill set,” he said.

 

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