Do you have a bad job?

One of my favorite commercials of all time is this Lisa computer one, from 1983. I like it for one obvious reason (mmmm...Kevin Costner + dog) but also because it idealizes an off-grid, on your own time, style of work that I need. But it's not just me who responds to the idea of adapting work into a path that works for you. The more I listen to women talk about their work, the more evidence I see that work isn't working anymore for many women.

You get to define what's essential for you in your life. Your work, paid or otherwise, is one of those areas. If you have a job that sucks, it may be a bad job. Bad jobs are ones that:

  • ...don't encourage your professional growth. Think the company that doesn't promote you or doesn't have a clear path to promotion. This may also be the company without professional development funds or where your talents are wasted on projects that you could do in your sleep. This could also be the organization that won't give you firm details on your job during a merger.
  • ...feature an absent, unavailable or abusive boss. Good bosses are present, physically and mentally. They know how to supervise, manage and lead. They offer regular supervision, give feedback and have an open door to hear your thoughts and ideas. Bosses who take credit for your accomplishments, encourage cliques, ask you to compromise your personal values, bully or use inappropriate behavior or language are not acceptable.
  • ...cause undue anxiety. Some stress at work is normal and even healthy. Deadlines, working on a diverse team or working alone are normal but can be stressful. Anxiety, sleeplessness, worry and fear related to your job are not normal and not okay. They should be huge red flags to you that something is very wrong.
  • ...don't support you as a person. Good companies know that happy people are happy workers. These are employees who are not only "allowed" to leave early to pick up a sick child but are encouraged to do so. Life/work balance isn't a myth; it's an option that companies can choose to promote. Regardless of their choice, balance is a must for you.

Bad jobs are also ones which no longer work for you. "Christine", the social media specialist at a mid-size non-profit, live Tweets weekend work events and gets part of her smart phone expenses paid by her company with the trade-off that she must be "on" much more than her already long days entail. She used to love this. Now, pregnant with twins, this lifestyle feels a lot less fun than it used to. Her job is bad because it doesn't work for her any longer.

These bad job criteria are guidelines to get you thinking. The bottom line is you get to determine if your job is a bad one or not. And then: what do you do about it? One thing you can do is make small changes to leave. Tempting though it may be, you're likely not in the financial position to quit an unsatisfying or unhealthy job tomorrow. So, while you are still working at your bad job, start with small changes. Like these:

  • Update your LinkedIn profile. You may not like it but suck it up and use it. If you work in any capacity, you need a profile on LinkedIn, with a photo and information current and relevant. Ask for recommendations and build connections. LinkedIn is the way to tell your professional story. This is also one way potential employers find you.
  • Register for The Pandora Passport - one of my two group coaching programs. In addition to learning your personal values ("flexible independence", "generous power", "authentic connection", or "story doula" anyone?), you will develop a concrete list of tools and skills that you can use in your daily life, including social media and work...and in the search for your new work.
  • Talk to a friend who recently transitioned into a new job. What helped her? Where did she get stuck? How did she find it? Be a detective in your conversation and, if it feels comfortable, share with her why you're asking. You never know who she knows or what may be out there when you make your declaration to the world that you're looking for a new job.

Your next job won't be your last job. No one who is committed to her personal and professional growth stays at a company for her entire professional career anymore. Not my smart, learning-oriented clients anyway! Companies move slowly and your happiness and professional satisfaction are not high on their list. But they may be higher on the list at another company.  Your next job is just that: your next job. Not the solution but a stepping stone to something better.

You get to define what's essential for you in your life. Your work, paid or otherwise, is one of those areas. Work must work for you. If you have a bad job and are ready to explore what a new, better job would look like for you, join me for The Pandora Passport. This group coaching class is all about learning how to pursue what works for you and then getting it...including that next great job.

Posted on September 22, 2015 and filed under Work.