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The Job from Hell
Yvonne LaRose, CPCQuestion:
I hate my job. To make matters worse, not only is my boss a jerk, I think my co-workers are stupid and vicious. They go out of their way to make me miserable. I need my job to support myself so I can't just quit. What should I do?

There are times when the research needs to be done about working for a company. It's actually an assessment that the candidate needs to make of who they are and their goals.

No doubt when you first interviewed for your present position, you thought the situation and the people were good. There was that honeymoon thrill and enthusiasm. So it's time to go back to those heady days and remember just what it was that you were seeking.

A Job Versus A Career
Be honest with yourself. What was your main motivation for taking that job? There is no shame in answering yes to any one of the following:

  • It was a stop gap because I'd been out of work for so long. I needed the money.
  • It was a step down and not what I wanted to do, but I thought I could work my way into something better.
  • It's in the right industry and the right title but just doesn't seem to be right for me.
  • The commute is too long.
  • The work is boring and I've hated it for a long time.
  • When I'm there trying to do my work, I find I'm daydreaming about doing something I really enjoy.

Among those responses, you'll find some self examination issues. Among those issues, you'll find that some of it is internal, some of it is external and has absolutely nothing to do with the job nor the people there.

Stop Gap Measures
If this situation was merely a means of paying the bills until you had the time to do a good career search for the right situation, chances are you forgot that somewhere along the way. Now you're trying to make a fill-in situation the perfect measure for you. That won't happen. See the situation for what it was then and what it is now. Stop trying to make the sow's ear into a silk purse.

Now that your income is more stable, pull out you resume and get it circulating again. Return to your networking and informational interviewing. Get focused on finding out where those career fairs are. Stop standing in one place and get back on track to reaching your goal.

Bad Fit
Sometimes you spend a long time -- years -- doing something that just isn't a good fit. Chances are you opted for the career -- that's right, I said "career" and not "job" -- because it had a lot of appeal and you told yourself that it was what you wanted to do. No doubt you took the Myers-Briggs assessment and cheated by giving the answers you wanted to be right instead of answering the questions according to what is really you.

That's okay. You still have time to go back and retake either the Myers-Briggs or any of the other self-assessment tests that are available. In fact, it's a good idea to take two or three in order to get a better idea of who you are. This time, though, give honest answers. Evaluate the several options that the results provide and determine which two or three you want to research first. You may find you've been in the wrong industry and should have been doing something completely different.

Sometimes just getting to work turns you into a four-headed hydra that eats nails for breakfast. It may not be the commute from hell. It may be any number of factors that make just getting to the office a horrible ordeal that turns your great morning into a test of endurance.

This sort of issue has absolutely nothing to do with the people you work with. Actually, you've frazzled yourself so much in just trying to get to the worksite that very little seems redemptive.

Do yourself a favor. As you go to the job, turn on the radio or the tape/CD deck and listen to something enjoyable. If there's a book you've been dying to read, get it on audiotape and listen/read it as you go.

Focus on Purpose
Stop and ask yourself why your job is what it is. Then focus on what that purpose is and how it fits into the bigger scheme of the workplace. You were hired to help the company either produce a product or provide a service for its customers. The customers are relying on the expertise of the company to make their lives easier and more efficient in some way. No matter how much you listen to the office gossip and politics, those issues are not going to help the company achieve its goals. So tune out the "noise" of the gossip, politics, personalities and any other distractions. Focus on what your job is and the responsibilities that go along with it. Then do those things.

If personality clashes abound, it's time to focus on being a professional. You don't have to like the people you work with and they don't have to like you. But all of you need to be professionals and be able to work with one another in order to complete the job.

Instead of coming up with barbs and retaliatory retorts, instead of succumbing to name calling (either outright or mentally), find another way to address the situation. Sometimes silence is better and stronger than any sort of come back. Consider your words and make them the words you would want to hear directed to you. If you can't think of any to say, don't say anything or politely thank your co-worker for the information and leave the situation.

Recognizing the "Red Flags"
When the situation becomes "they're bad guys and I'm a victim" more than one or two times, there's a red flag waving. It's time to determine what issues you need to face head on with regard to the choices you've made and make some new ones. Take responsibility for your having allowed your situation to turn into something undesirable or turning it into something undesirable. Then work on creating positive solutions. Those solutions may bring some great surprises in another areas that you'd ruled out for a very long time.


� Reprint, with permission, from Career and Executive Recruiting Advice at Suite101.