There are several reasons why you might feel unwanted or unhappy at your job. You might love the work you are doing but feel like your boss doesn’t appreciate you, or maybe your skill-set and personality are being underutilized and over-scrutinized.
Personally, I have been there before. While I am lucky enough to have enjoyed the various writing, marketing, and corporate communications roles I have been in throughout my nearly 20-year career, I had never quite found the right fit until I decided to bet on myself and aggressively pursue the right company.
Here are the 3 lessons I learned that helped me overcome being unhappy at my job:
1. Empathy is everything. According to research by Businessolver, 93% of employees say they would stay at their jobs if their employer was empathetic. I have been on both sides of this.
I was once asked to commute to New York City from Long Island two days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area, with little empathy from management. That feeling always stuck with me, and when my wife became pregnant with our first child a few years later, I knew I wanted out of the company. After all, what would happen when I had a family emergency? I simply didn’t want to feel guilty about wanting to be present for my child.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that my son would be born and have many special needs. I am fortunate enough today that my current employer is truly empathetic to my situation and gives me every opportunity to balance my home life and my career. The empathy that they have for me as a human being and as a special needs parent motivates me to work as hard as I can to do the best job I can.
2. You have just as much say in the job interview as the hiring company. At some point, and this comes with experience, you have to not only bet on yourself but speak up for yourself during the job interview. Rather than stay silent and be a passive interviewee, you should do your research and ask reasonable questions that any employer should want to answer. There is no reason you can’t ask about the company culture, why they are hiring, and what they are looking for long-term. Of course, you should be tactful and not be too pushy, but by being specific with your questions it will help you and the employer determine if there really is a match.
Also, and this is really important, the worst thing you can do is ghost the employer and skip the interview without warning or communicating with the hiring manager. Ghosting leaves a bad impression and because people know other people, you’d be surprised how word gets around.
3. If you are truly unhappy at your job, don’t settle and at least explore other options. Even if you are not ready to leave your job, it doesn’t hurt to look around, read reviews, and see what else is out there. Some people might just need to change companies and stay in a similar role while others may look into changing careers or branching out and starting their own business. Whether you are looking for a new landing spot as an employee or decide to become an entrepreneur, the best thing you can do is network with others, build new connections, and do your research.
This way, when you are ready to make the switch or you just can’t take it anymore, you have already done the legwork and built those bridges.
For example, when I left the company that I felt lacked empathy from management, I spent a short but vital period of time working from home while my wife was pregnant. I was managing content for a friend’s website and picked up various writing and editing gigs. During that time, I was able to really assess what I wanted to do next. The connections I built before making that leap offered me the perfect landing spot, and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.
Ultimately, while you can’t always change all aspects of how a company operates or how your boss treats you, there are ways to turn those negatives into positives and take back control of your career.