Know How to Deal with a Bad Job?
What Is The Right Way to Deal With It?
Should you stick with it, wait and see, or start updating your resume? If your job is going from bad to worse, you need to come up with a game plan. Here are a few ideas that might help you -- find a way to get a handle on what is going on, define your options, and evaluate when to call it quits.
Ultimately, right answer for you depends on you, your current situation and what you expect will happen in the future.
Understand the Current Situation
The first step is often the hardest, and that is the case here. You need to get an accurate and complete idea of what is really going on. If you have read our page Figuring Out What Went Wrong, you know what the problem is. So now you need to ...
Step 1 - Identify The Size of The Problem
- Use with your list of dream job ingredients or write your own ideal job ad to create a specific and detailed description of the job you want.
- Compare that with a job description of your current job.
- How much do they differ? If it is a small amount, then you will want to put more emphasis on finding solutions than finding another job. The larger the discrepancy, the more serious the problem that you face.
Step 2 - Identify The Nature of The Problem
- Are the problems you identified in Horrible Jobs: Figuring Out What Went Wrong temporary changes or permanent ones? (Consider bosses permanent unless you have very strong evidence they will be moving on soon.)
- What caused the problem? Are the reasons due to unforeseen circumstances or unavoidable market changes? Or are they due to an emerging or existing problem within the company. (If they are due to management problems, you may have less of a chance of things being corrected. Often a company has blinders on when it comes to recognizing and dealing with the problems created by its own management.)
- Can you imagine or describe exactly what would need to occur in order for the job to become your dream job again? Is so, create a list of all the things that would need to change or happen.
- Do you have the power, energy, interest, and time to make all the required things happen?
- If you do not, does anyone in the company? Does that person care about making the changes you need? What would need to happen to bring your changes about and how realistic is it?
Step 3 - Identify If The Problem Is Getting Worse or Better
- Do you expect changes in your job situation, and if so, will they improve or further reduce the "dreaminess" of your job?
- Is there a more general trend going on?
- Are other people also adversely affected and will this lead to good people leaving for greener pastures, further impacting how much you love your job?
Understand Your Options
You have several options to consider. The best way we know to define and evaluate them is to look at the circumstances under which you would ...
- be happy to stay
- be willing to wait and see how things develop
- be happy to leave
Take a few minutes and see if you can clearly define what the circumstances are that define these three options for you.
Be Happy To Stay
Above you imagined what needed to happen in order to restore your job to its former "dreaminess". That defines an ideal state where you would definitely be happy to stay with the company.
Be Happy To Leave
There is also a set of circumstances under which you would be so unhappy with your current job (or feel so confident you could find another dream job) that you would be happy to leave. This is the point at which you feel in your heart it is clearly time to leave.
So take a moment to imagine and write down what would need to happen for you to decide it was time to move on. Your list should include all of the things that would immediately make you decide to start looking for another dream job. These usually are things that violate deeply held values or signal that it is no longer worth waiting to see if things will improve. Your list should also include the combination of smaller things that together make it clear it is time to quit.
Wait And See
This is a hard place to define, a virtual "no mans land" between being 'happy to stay' and 'happy to leave'. Many people get stuck here, often for years -- not happy about staying but not quite unhappy enough to leave.
Therefore it is critical that you know how much of your dream job ingredients you are willing to give up and for how long. Because that is what you are doing -- working at a job you no longer totally love, waiting to see if things will get better. So take a few minutes and look at the difference between the two job descriptions you created above (your dream job and current job). Now put a time frame in terms of weeks, months or years for how long you are willing to go without this ingredient in order to see if the job will improve.
This list of what you are sacrificing helps you ...
- clearly see what you are giving up
- define the cost of being in a wait and see mode
- focus your attention on looking for solutions to get back the things you are giving up
- identify the signs you need to decide things are getting better or worse and it is time to leave
Three States Clarify Where You Are
Once you have defined these three states, you can now determine which one you are in. You also can clearly see what it will take to make you happy to stay or unhappy enough to start looking for your new dream job.
This clarity really helps you deal with the daily and weekly ups and downs. How? By helping you decide in advance what you want and how you will react if things get worse. Now, instead of worrying, your focus is on observing what is happening and monitoring how things are going. A lot of the uncertainty, doubt, and fear are sidestepped when you have thought through and know what you will do when, or if, you see certain things happen. So much of the problem with jobs gone bad and jobs from hell is getting so deeply involved in the emotional impact and spending all your time wishing things were different. Instead, you want to step back and focus calmly on the action you need to take.
Understand When & How To Call It Quits
When you have worked at a dream job, it can be very hard to leave it, even if it no longer fits you. It helps if you realize that everything around you is evolving and changing -- you, your co-workers, your boss, your company and your customers. Sometimes, through no fault of anyone, things grow apart and your current job no longer meets your dream job description.
Many people hang on far too long, not recognizing that once the "dreaminess" of a job is gone, it rarely returns. So learning how and when to move on is a good skill to develop. We recommend the following ...
- Whenever you update your work portfolio and master resume, do a quick assessment of how well your current job reflects your dream job. You can estimate a percentage, or give a score based on the key ingredients of your ideal work. This way you can track how dreamy your current job is and notice early on if things start to change.
- Start to look forward 3, 6 and 12 months to forecast if you will be outgrowing your current job and if you need to start looking around for new opportunities either within or outside of the company.
- Because most people have more than one job or career during their lifetime, learn now how to prepare for the next job in your dream career with ...