If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, don’t quit right away. Instead, ask yourself how you can use your current position to help you build the next stage of your career.
Why? Because — as a recent article at Fast Company explains — if you don’t take some time to ask yourself why you hate your current job, you might not know what to look for (and what to avoid) in your next one.
Start by identifying any aspects of your work you do enjoy. Do you prefer certain kinds of tasks or projects over others? Do you like to work solo, or do you like working closely with other people? You should also ask yourself what you’re learning at your current job, because all of these hard-won skills will help you as you seek out your next position.
As Fast Company puts it:
If you’re feeling frustrated by the sort of work you’re doing, pay attention to those moments when you feel excited and time passes effortlessly. Make a mental note so that you can build more of whatever that is into your career in the future.
At the same time, don’t discount the parts of your work life that seem boring and monotonous, so long as you’re still learning. They’re likely providing you with the knowledge and experience you’ll need in the future.
I’m proof that you can learn a lot from a job you can’t stand — and that includes both resume and character-building skills. I used to be a telemarketer, for example, and it taught me not to take rejection personally.
Likewise, I went into some of my early jobs, whether I was working in food service or office administration, with the naive assumption that the dirty work (cleaning out the freezer, cleaning out the file closet) only had to be completed once. Nope. Every job has some tedious and/or dirty work that you wish you could avoid, but you can’t — and that kind of work tends to be cyclical, so you might as well get used to doing it.
That said, it’s also worth paying attention to the work you consistently procrastinate on. As I explained earlier this year, in a post on why leaving work undone makes you a better employee:
So take a look at what you’re leaving unfinished at the end of a typical workday. If it’s the low-priority work, you might be a better employee than you realise. If it’s the high-priority stuff, it might be time to find a job where you can spend your days doing the work in which you excel — whether that’s doing similar work for a company that provides the kind of structure you need to complete it, or a job that lets you focus on the work you naturally prioritise.
Essentially, your goal at any given job should be to figure out what you want to do at your next job. You should also be thinking about how you’ll need to prepare to get that job, whether through networking, additional training, or updating your resume.
Ideally, you’d be doing this kind of prep work whether you love your current job or whether you hate it, because no job lasts forever — but if you happen to be in a job you loathe, consider it time to accelerate the strategy.