By Cheryl Hall
Where did the weekend go? It's Sunday night and although you had a lovely time leaving your butt imprint on the couch for the last 48 hours, suddenly there's a lurch in the pit of your stomach again. Yes, looming on the horizon, there is it, another Monday morning. Another Monday, you'll face the gridlock and angrily express your dismay with the world with one finger and clutch the huge cup of coffee that you'll need to drag yourself through the bore that is your job.
The highlight of your day, other than seeing the clock hit 4:59 will of course be the secret glee you have knowing that you've spent hours of company time playing Solitaire and sending out countless resumes. You know you're a lousy employee, but in a tight job market, with younger and more qualified applicants taking greeter jobs at Wal-Mart, is it really time to find a new job?
If loving what you do is the key ingredient to success, and your job gives you symptoms similar to dysentery, should you pack it in? Do you need a new attitude or a new career? If you're going to spend about 80,000 hours of your life at work, don't you deserve to like some of it? When is it time to move on?
Before you change the "objective" paragraph on your resume to read: "Doing anything other than what I'm doing in this hellhole", make sure you answer the following questions.
Did I ever love this job? If your job were a relationship, is it just on the rocks or was it just a time filler until Mr. or Miss Right came along? Remembering that in order to have gotten this job in the first place, at some point you actually asked for it. You actually decided that you had the qualifications to do it, you would enjoy coming there each day, and you saw some kind of potential for a future there. Was this a job that you took after a long bout with unemployment or did you actually see it as a step up from something else?
Do I respect this job? OK, so maybe your job relationship needs some marriage counseling, but as the marriage counselor would tell you, all good relationships are built on respect. If you had to sum up your position in one sentence, what is it that you really do and do you find that an admirable thing to be doing? Do you respect the people you are working for and the company you're employed by? If not, would you want to do the same job for someone else?
What do I dislike the most? Do you hate the job itself, as in the duties of the job? Or is it the people you work with? Getting a new job with a new job description can fix hating the work itself, but there will be difficult people to deal with anywhere you go. If there's a person making your life miserable, what can you do to make this relationship go smoothly?
There's always pretending that you've got something very contagious every time you think they're approaching your cubicle, but what if you had a meeting and just confronted the issues? Before you say, "Oh that would be a big mistake," think about it. Is leaving a job because of your inability to negotiate a compromise really a smart career move? Why not make an attempt to patch things over?
Am I just bored? Maybe the reason you're staring at the clock is because that's all you have left to do. Bosses love employees who ask for more work. No, let's change that, bosses who worth working for love employees who ask for more work. Pinheads who are too mentally challenged to see you as a productive employee and would see your request as being a threat or a problem won't and then you know that working for them wouldn't ever be to your benefit. If you are working under a person who sees the value in an inspired employee though, your request for more will be met with enthusiasm and real thought. You won't know what you could have unless you asked.
Do I just hate the pay? Again, ask for more work. An employer who sees you expanding in your current position and values the extra money you are creating for the company will see the fairness in spreading that money around to you. But if you ask for more money after putting in a week of late arrivals, long lunches, multiple chain letter emails and a request for a personal day, be prepared to hear, "Are you kidding me with that?" In order to be worth more, you've got to give more.
If I left today, what would they say about me? Getting your recommendations in order should be your first priority if there is no love left for this job. If your current peers and boss would have to say, if they were honest, that you were a lousy employee with a lousy attitude, then you're not ready to leave. You need to network as if your life depended on it now. Find out what your predecessor did, why did they leave, what could you do to change positions there, who knows someone who knows they could get you a job? Without some solid leads and a few letters of reference, how are you going to land that job in utopia? Make sure you leave no stone unturned; if you leave after scouring all possibilities, then you can honestly say it was the company, not you.
What would I do if time and money were no issue? Wow, an existential question right in the middle of Minesweeper? Yeah, I thought you might be ready for that. Would you have the same kind of job somewhere else? Or would you finally move to that cabin in the mountains and write the next Great American novel? Just knowing what you don't want is not enough; you've got to have an idea of what you do want to give your brain something to go after.
What did I learn here and how can I apply it to the next job? If you know that this job is over and you are just bidding your time, that's great, as long as you take what you learned and apply it to the next position. Did you accept too little salary in desperation? Did you not ask enough questions about the details of this job? Did you know the expectations? Did you see the writing on the wall? If so, don't think of it as a mistake, think of it as a learning experience that you will use to interview for the next position a more wise and honest future employee. If you don't, then expect to be putting the polish on that resume again in the near future.
How do you know if it's the job or if it's just you?
After you've answered the above questions, you should have a pretty good idea. It's only been a failure if you didn't apply what you learned, whatever that may be. This job may have been the kick in the pants you needed to finally start a new career doing something you truly love. Whatever you decide to do, pay attention to the possibilities around you and take action! You deserve a job that brings you joy and success. Finding a new job isn't hard, even loving the job you have isn't hard, if you know what you're after.