Hate your job? Here’s what you can do

Your job is about more than earning a living. The workplace is where you spend most of your waking hours each week. It should be a place that offers you fulfillment and opportunity. For some, however, this is not the case. Perhaps you have a boss who is difficult to work with or colleagues that make your daily life less than ideal. Maybe you simply hate the work you are required to do daily. Whatever the case, if you hate your job, you’re not alone.

In a recent Gallup report, actively disengaged employees rose to 15% by June 2021. Among those who were actively disengaged, 74% were looking for new employment and watching for openings elsewhere.

If you hate your job, you may feel trapped and frustrated every day when your alarm goes off, but there is hope. In this guide, we’ll help shed light on what you can do when you hate your job.

Exhausted business woman, almost face down on her desk, clutches a cup of coffee and stares up at her laptop screen.
“Let me count the ways…” – list what makes you unhappy.

Assess what you hate

Before you hand in your two weeks’ notice or begin a new job search, you should pinpoint what you hate about your job. This is beneficial in a few ways. First, it will ensure that you don’t simply trade one job you hate for another. Secondly, it might help you see how to remedy the situation. Leaving your job isn’t always the answer if you can resolve the issue through the help of a manager or a shift in your responsibilities.

Lastly, creating a detailed list of what you hate about your job will help you see a clearer picture of what, conversely, brings you fulfillment.

Use the following questions to help you pinpoint what you hate:

  • Do I enjoy my role?
  • Do I enjoy the responsibilities I have?
  • Do I feel like I have a quality work/life balance?
  • Do I get along with my colleagues?
  • Do I feel supported by my management?
  • Do I align with my current company’s values?
  • Do I believe that I am making a difference in my job?

After you answer these questions, a theme might emerge. For example, you might realize that you actually enjoy your job role immensely but that your management is the issue. In this case, pursuing a similar career path at a different company, or even switching roles within your company to work on a different team, might be a good pick.

Or, you might realize that you enjoy your management and colleagues but that your job role is simply not a good fit for you. In this case, you could pursue a new career path that aligns better with your talents and preferences.

Once you have a clearer understanding of your specific frustrations, you can move forward with a plan accordingly.

Keep your complaints out of the workplace

While it is normal to experience a time in your life when you hate your job, always keep your complaints out of the workplace. Even if you have a colleague you trust or a coworker who seems to share your sentiments, don’t air your dislike for your company or boss while at work.

When you bring your complaints to the workplace, you run the risk of your disdain reaching management. This could cause you to lose your job before you are ready to move on. 

Therefore, it is much better to remain professional while in your role and to handle moving on according to your own timeline.

Prepare for a job search

You don’t need to remain with a company you dislike or stick to doing a job you hate. The best thing you can do in this situation is prepare yourself for a job search.

Use the following checklist to make sure you are ready to seek new opportunities:

  • Put together a detailed list of where you have worked, including dates and company names. This will help you create your resume and fill out applications.
  • Find someone you trust who can be your reference. Often, you’ll need to provide a work reference, but you will want to avoid using your current management. Reach out to a boss from a prior role and ask if they would be willing to act as your professional reference.
  • Create a new resume. Take some time to put together a high-quality, professional resume that showcases your skills and achievements. This document should be either a single page, or two pages for over 10 years’ experience, and feature a simple format.
  • Review common interview questions. Put together answers highlighting your skills and focus on the positives you have taken away from your current position. You can even practice a mock interview with a family member or friend, particularly if it has been a long time since you last interviewed for a job.
  • Put together a list of places where you can look for new jobs. A great place to begin is with an online job board. Additionally, if you enjoy the company you work for and simply dislike your position, you might also consider an internal job board.

Actively look for new opportunities (quietly)

Once you are ready to begin applying for jobs, start looking for new opportunities. Always keep your job hunt to yourself. Don’t post about it on social media, and don’t advertise it to coworkers. The goal is to ensure that you have a secure position for as long as necessary.

Additionally, never use your work computer or time on the clock to look for a new job. Save your job search and application for hours you are not at work. Carve out a dedicated time each day to work on looking for new opportunities and filling out applications.

Frame your job switch in a positive light

Once you land an interview, hiring managers will most likely ask you why you want to switch jobs. It is important to focus on the job change in a positive light. Do not use this time to air your grievances about your past boss or company. Even if you have every right to be frustrated with your current role, complaining about an existing position can cause a hiring manager to be concerned that you’ll be a difficult employee.

Instead, frame your job change in an upbeat way. The following are all examples of how you might answer the question: “What’s your reason for leaving your job?”:

  • I’m looking for a new challenge and a chance to grow professionally.
  • I want to join a company where I have new opportunities for my career.
  • I’m looking for a company culture that matches my professional values.
  • I want to pursue a different facet of my career path.

However you decide to answer this question, the number one goal should be to keep the focus on how you’ll find fulfillment in your new role, rather than on why you hated your previous role.

Comic image of a businessman flying through the air after being kicket by a giant shoe attached to a giant spring.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to fly high in your career.

Leave your job professionally

Once you have the chance to leave your current role, it is natural to want to walk out the door immediately and leave the challenging situation behind. While the idea of never showing up to work again might sound satisfying upfront, it is always wise to leave your job professionally.

If possible, provide your current employer with two weeks’ notice. Wrap up your projects and hand off any important information to your manager or team.

In the workforce, you truly never know when you might cross paths with a manager or colleague again in the future. When you leave with your head held high, you are less likely to burn a bridge you might need down the road.