You’re trapped in a job you hate. We’ve all been there.
Maybe the work is meaningless, your workspace is bland, you don’t connect with your co-workers or you feel like you’re not living up to your potential.
Many people in your predicament decide to suck it up and stick it out, perhaps because the salary is good or the job could be a steppingstone for a better position. These reasons are all very strategic and important, but it’s also easy to lose your motivation to stay, even in the presence of a few job advantages.
You may not be in a position to leave a job immediately, so here are some creative ways to get the most out of a job you dislike. (One caveat: Don’t stay in a toxic work environment. You should never sacrifice your mental health and overall wellness.)
Outline your transferable skills and keep an accomplishment list
Even in a lousy job, you are building skills that you can transfer into another job. Forbes has compiled a list of the seven transferable skills that employers look for, including communication, multitasking, teamwork, creativity, technical abilities, critical thinking and leadership. Are you in a position that has you managing multiple projects, leading a committee, or reevaluating or redesigning an existing process or procedure? These are all responsibilities to highlight on your resume to ensure you’re marketable for your next move.
Also, keep a running list of your accomplishments. If you helped create or plan a new initiative, introduce a new process or complete a big project, make sure you keep track of it. Everyone should have a major accomplishment list on their resume. Accomplishments also help foster motivation, so it’s good to revisit this list whenever you’re feeling down.
Network, network and then network some more
Since you should be at least passively looking for other opportunities, you should be doing the best you possibly can to tap into your boss’s and your organization’s network. Volunteer to attend or staff events — even if these events sound boring or networking scares you. You never know who you’re going to meet or who is going to offer you your next job. Your network can do things for you that money can’t — you need people to vouch for you, and you need people with access to opportunities you don’t have. So the next time you get asked to attend an event on behalf of your organization, go!
Meanwhile, keep building your network on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Introduce yourself to people on LinkedIn who are in positions you aspire to be in and see if they might be interested in getting coffee or doing an informational interview so you can learn more about their career trajectory.
You probably don’t want your employer to know you’re looking for a new job, but don’t hide from potential employment opportunities. Start attending local networking events in your city after hours and on weekends.
Find cross-department projects
OK, you’ve accepted the fact that the work in your department is mundane and not your cup of tea. But if you’re in an organization with many different departments, investigate the type of work that’s happening elsewhere in your organization. Are they launching new software or implementing a new process or program that relates to your position? Is there a way to contribute your ideas and/or participate in the project from your current post? Cross-functional teams have many benefits such as enhancing employee engagement, developing management skills and spurring innovative ideas. It can also help you find a sense of belonging and meaning in your work.
Change your workspace
Is your workspace bland? Do you have enough light? You would be surprised by how much our workspace influences our mood and motivation. Consider adding a salt lamp or plant to your desk or inspirational quotes on your office wall. What drives you? Are you motivated by color? If you have the freedom to paint your office walls, do so — even if you plan on being there temporarily.
Have you thought about adding a standing desk or changing your keyboard and mouse? Ergonomics aims to increase efficiency and productivity and reduce discomfort. If you are limited in changing your workspace, consider adding meditative practices to your day like walking outside, listening to music, reading for leisure, working out or mindfulness activities.
It’s OK to not like your current position, but realize that every job will allow you to learn something or meet someone new. It’s important to always be strategic about what you choose to take away from a job you don’t like.