You dread Monday morning. You watch the clock during the workday. And TGIF stands for ‘Thank God it’s five o’clock.’ Is your attitude toward work normal or is it possible you’re in the wrong job?
You’re in the wrong job when every day feels like the movie “Groundhog Day” – a stale repeat of the previous day, says Shawnice Meador, director of career management and leadership development for the University of North Carolina’s online MBA program.
But you’re not alone: “Most of us find ourselves in the wrong job at one point during our careers,” says Molly Brennan, managing partner of the executive search firm Koya Leadership Partners. “When you spend most of your waking hours at work, you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re putting in those hours for a job that you care about.”
Brennan and Meador say there are 10 telltale signs you’re in the wrong job:
- You no longer believe in what the company does.
- Your job doesn’t tap into your natural abilities.
- You don’t understand the purpose of your job.
- You aren’t gaining new skills or you don’t feel challenged.
- You don’t find joy in the victories at work.
- You don’t feel your work is valued.
- You realize growth opportunities are severely limited.
- You hate it when a new acquaintance asks what you do.
- You’ve lost respect for your boss.
- You’ve got an “itch” for a new job that is overwhelming.
So what do you do?
Sometimes we have a few boring days or a bad interaction with our boss and immediately decide that the answer is to change jobs, says Meador. “When these thoughts arise, give some conscious thought to what is going on,” she says.
Make a long list of your ideal job situation, and then compare and contrast it to your current situation. Is your dissatisfaction based on one particular issue or is it a combination of things that have built up over time?
This process needs to be all about self-examination, says Brennan: “Examine what you need out of your job,” she says. “Most of us need a job in order to support ourselves and our families, but it doesn’t have to be our sole source of fulfillment. If you’re not fulfilled at work, could you balance it by finding happiness and engagement in other areas of your life?”
Sometimes it’s not the company that’s a bad fit; it’s the job responsibilities. Brennan suggests volunteering for new assignments or projects, or taking on new tasks.
“This may be the spark you need to get through a slump,” she says. “I see plenty of candidates who think a new job is the answer, but once they ask to do more of what they love at their current job, it makes things interesting and compelling again.”
“Research shows that it is much more likely for a hiring manager to choose someone that they have worked with previously or otherwise have knowledge of his or her work ethic and abilities, than to hire someone who is a complete unknown,” adds Meador. She suggests talking with your manager if you’re having thoughts about leaving.
“Definitely don’t threaten your boss with leaving or bend their ear with a bunch of negative venting; neither approach gets you into solution space,” she says. “Instead, be prepared to talk about specific aspects of your work that are not working for you, and see if you can brainstorm together about effective methods to improve the situation.”
If you still feel like you’re not in the right place, it’s time to start trying to find it, says Brennan. “Don’t do anything dramatic,” she says. “Take your time to figure out where you want to go next. Then, start networking.”
Ultimately, no one is responsible for your career success but you, says Meador: “Think about every job as an opportunity to leave a legacy behind when you move onto something else,” she says. “Take action on ensuring you have made a positive, lasting impact on your department, project or team before you leave. You will feel proud of yourself even if the entire job situation was not perfect.”