A bad job can be defined in a variety of ways. Perhaps it’s a job with few growth opportunities or one that offers no work/life balance. Most of us have experienced a “bad” job at some point in our careers. If you feel stuck in a bad job right now, there are ways to salvage the experience.
Here are five ways to find the upside no matter how bad a job may seem.
1. Connect with new people.
The biggest asset at your disposal may be the people you work with. Expanding your circle to cross-departmental colleagues can bring about unexpected benefits.
For one, they might become sources of support and friendship, helping to improve your job satisfaction. Further, they may be able to expose you to new projects or areas of the company that could hold appeal.
So, be a part of the office dynamic. This makes it easier to reach out to an extended group of people. Take part in hallway chats, attend birthday events and bring a casserole to the monthly potluck or the summer picnic. When new people join the company, welcome them and express your interest in learning from each other.
Remember not to mention your discontent. You’re not looking for others to gripe with. Simply focus on areas of interest. Any shared experiences or knowledge can open up a useful conversation. Follow up later via email and build a continued dialogue over time.
Bonus tip: In addition to peers, consider connecting with managers and even executives. You can still look upward when networking internally.
2. Tap your potential.
Ask for projects that allow you to stretch your abilities and develop new skills. You may find you enjoy whatever it is you begin working on, and your dissatisfaction is not so much with the company but with your current duties. An added benefit: You also can include action verbs, such as managed, mentored or developed, on your résumé.
Bonus tip: Ask your supervisors how you’re doing with a new assignment. If you get words of appreciation, thank them and keep any glowing emails or reviews for your records. You can use these as a résumé addendum or for your cover letter.
3. Investigate your industry.
One thing a bad job can help you do is explore your industry in greater depth. Many companies pay for memberships to industry associations and conferences, making it easier (and more affordable) to interact with your peers. By doing so, you can bring added value to your job, expand your professional network and potentially learn about future career paths.
You may even realize you’re not as passionate about your profession as you once were. Instead of pinning your discontent on your current role, it may be the business that’s not working for you. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Bonus tip: Consider not just attending but also speaking at an industry event, whether a regional conference or local chapter meeting. It’s easier to get accepted as a speaker while employed. And being a featured presenter can boost your credentials in the eyes of future employers.
4. Propose process improvement.
Your job dissatisfaction may be the result of barriers to efficiency in your office, such as a complicated approval process that drains your excitement for a project as it drags on. Rather than complain, suggest systems or processes that will alleviate pain points. Chances are you’re not the only one who is frustrated.
You’ll earn the goodwill of colleagues, and these individuals could serve as future references. Also keep in mind that spearheading these types of improvements is resume gold.
Bonus tip: Create a proposal for your boss that clearly outlines the benefits of any changes you suggest. For example, “If we remove this review step, we can save a week in producing the financial report. Here’s why that step is redundant.”
5. Examine your career path.
It’s important to assess what you want — and what you don’t want — from your future job to avoid landing in another unsatisfying position. And it’s easier to reflect on your career path while employed (for one thing, you won’t have the added financial stress).
Focus on targeting employers and roles that can offer you what you’re looking for. This research phase can take time, so dig in now.
Bonus tip: Sign up with a staffing firm. A specialized recruiter can do much of the heavy lifting in a job search. These professionals are able to identify opportunities that might interest you and approach companies, confidentially, on your behalf. You don’t have to make a move until you’re ready.
Use the above tips to remain positive and productive when you’re stuck in a bad job. Even if you can’t leave at the moment, there are ways to stay motivated and find the right fit eventually.
This post was brought to you by Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide.