You go to college, pick a major that you think you’ll love, graduate and get a degree…only to later find out that the field you chose doesn’t meet your expectations. Not because you’re not passionate about it (you actually enjoy it), but because you’re over it. It’s dry, it’s boring and you’re just not connected anymore. Or maybe it’s because of the corporate politics that you just can’t seem to manage or tolerate – you come in early, leave late, continue working from home, only to be overlooked for someone less qualified who doesn’t grind or work as hard as you. Sigh – it’s exhausting. I get it and can completely relate – we’ve all been there at some point along our career journey.
But you’ve been working in the same field (and probably at the same company) for years. You can’t just up and quit – this job is all you know…what else can you do? You’ve got kids, you’re accustomed to living a certain lifestyle and you can’t afford to start over. So, you just deal with it. You come to work and push through, smile when you’re not feeling great, laugh at bad jokes and pretend to be engaged. You nod your head in meetings (as if you’re really paying attention) and say things like, “I’m happy to help” when you could care less. I really do get it (and you are not alone, trust me).
I have these conversations every year around this time (January – March) with people who are feeling disenchanted and discouraged. They feel stuck and clueless about how to change their predicament. Because I’m a good listener (or so I’ve been told), I nod, encourage myself to be present, take mental notes then ask probing questions with the intent of helping them start the rediscovery process.
Here are 6 things to do when you’re no longer in love with your job:
Sit with yourself and figure out what don’t you like about your job
Not only do you have to identify the things that make you feel disenchanted about your job, but also force yourself to pinpoint when you started to feel this way. Was it after a year? Was it when you didn’t get the expected promotion? Did it start when you realized they didn’t take you or your ideas seriously? Or perhaps it was when you asked for additional responsibilities and they just didn’t trust you enough?
Determine what your must-haves are. What are the things that motivate you on the job?
This is a serious exercise – do not take it lightly. These things are vital to career growth and engagement. These things should be incorporated into your initial job search process, but are often overlooked (or minimized) for the sake of just having a job. For example, I know that I need a manager who is smart, insightful and knowledgeable – I need someone who can stretch and grow me. If I feel there is nothing to learn from my manager, I check out. I also need to be in an environment that supports creative thinking and innovation – I hate the “If it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it” mindset. In order to survive these days, you must be a disruptor. Take it apart, look at it from different angles, add layers then rebuild…even when you are at the top. Companies (and people) who are comfortable are at risk of becoming irrelevant. There are many examples of this, starting with the takeover of the music industry by tech giant Apple. Don’t be afraid to bring these must-haves up during your interviews – say it tactfully and diplomatically.
Ask yourself “What am I good at?”
This is a crucial conversation to have with yourself (and be honest). Take inventory of all the things you do extremely well: Great communicator, awesome writer, excellent presenter, Excel guru and conflict resolution master. Keep digging until you find everything that makes you great. These things will inform your biggest (and arguably your most important) step in this process – packaging and rebranding yourself.
Use the skills you came up with to determine your next move
Now that you’ve concluded that you’re a beast at all the things you listed in step 3, give yourself a pat on the back. A part of this process is to fall in love with yourself again and give yourself a boost of confidence. When we don’t get the validation and affirmation we need from our superiors and employers, we begin to second-guess our abilities and ourselves. Take a day to sit with all your skills and contemplate what other things you can do with these skills. This process reminds me of my time in graduate school when I had little to no money. $3-5 was my general budget for meals. And each day I’d ask myself “What can I buy with $3-5 that will fill me up?” It’s the same sensibility. Skills are transferable – It’s all about telling a story and getting buy-in from the reader or listener.
Tell your story
“But what if I’m not a good storyteller?” I’m glad you asked. GET GOOD AT IT! You are the only person that can author a book about you. Figure out what things about you are most interesting, your proudest moments, your biggest accomplishments and your best skills and you’re off to a good start. Storytelling is 2 parts the ability to write, 1 part the ability to engage and 1 part the ability to sell.
Redo your resume
When you feel you’ve come up with a compelling story, update your resume – this time, make it come to life. Your resume should let the reader know who you are, what you’ve done and what you’re looking to do next. In knowing that readers don’t spend more than 35 seconds reviewing your resume, your goal is to grab their attention early on and keep it. The “who you are” (summary/profile) section sets the tone and helps to hook the reader with your narrative – if you’re not able to do this, they’ll check out. Ensure your profile aligns with the roles you’re seeking.
A business savvy talent acquisition executive with strong experience supporting revenue generating teams with a particular expertise across sales, marketing and all things digital. Excellent ability to develop and champion inclusive strategies that attract and engage top talent in the digital, media or tech industries.
Go through these steps as often as necessary. However, if you find yourself hating your next job, perhaps the problem might be you. Solicit feedback from your coworkers, colleagues and superiors (make sure you communicate that it’s safe to do so and promise not to retaliate against them or throw shade thereafter) then start doing the introspective work so that you show up happier and engaged in the future.