Break the Pattern of Choosing Jobs You Dislike
By Mark Swartz
It happens more often than people willingly admit: accepting a job that makes you miserable. It occurs most often when rushing a decision and failing to research sufficiently.
That doesn’t explain why some people are serial offenders. They repeatedly make bad choices about work. What are they doing wrong? And, more importantly, how can they break the pattern and find a better fit?
Chasing after Money
No doubt salary is a major driver when taking a job. But if it’s always the overriding factor, it can lead to employment disasters. Higher compensation may involve longer hours and increased stress. Or you may feel pressure to violate ethical boundaries in order to produce results.
Solution: Do some serious financial planning. Determine how much money you actually need to live on and save. Then look for jobs that pay adequately. Find the ones that match your personal style and provide opportunities for growth.
Trying to Live up To Someone Else’s Expectations
Whom are you trying to satisfy by only working in certain types of jobs? There are many points of pressure directing you. Your parents’ expectations, for instance. Siblings you’ve competed with for attention. The friends you went to school with whose career paths are now blossoming.
Solution: Redefine success in your own terms. Create your personal mission, vision and values statements. Then search for new jobs – or roles within your current employer – more in keeping with who you are. Take into account your personality, ambition levels and financial goals.
Worried About Not Deserving More
Insecurity is a big reason people take jobs beneath their qualifications. Rather than pushing for what they’re worth, they accept lesser roles. Soon they start resenting the employer. Or get down on themselves for not being assertive enough. Either way the person becomes disengaged from their work.
Solution: This is a common problem among certain groups. Graduating students who aren’t “exceptional” may feel unworthy of good jobs. However unpaid internships, part-time work experience and securing excellent references can help remedy this. Recent immigrants might have language barriers or need to gain Canadian experience. People with disabilities can work with agencies that specialize in job training and structured placements.
Failing To Investigate Opportunities Properly
So many people read employment ads as if the words are carved in gold. Everything is so polished and compelling. Who can resist such an intriguing prospect?
Solution: You can, if you’re willing to research the employer before jumping aboard. This involves more than quickly glancing at their website. To be thorough, make inquiries among your contacts. Do any of them have insights they’re willing to share? Track news about the company. Watch for positive aspects (awards, new business, corporate social responsibility). Be eyeful as well for negatives (lawsuits, bad business practices, financial woes). The trick is to find out in advance what it’s genuinely like to work there.
Getting Wrongfully Hired
Sometimes employers are unscrupulous when interviewing candidates. They may exaggerate the title or compensation. Occasionally they lie outright about work hours, duties and reporting lines.
Solution: Some of these discrepancies can be uncovered with due diligence. Yet there are instances when an applicant gets hired for a particular job, only to discover (once aboard) that the role has been changed substantially. Now you have to consider whether to bolt or stick it out. Taking legal action for wrongful hiring is a complementary option.
How to Break The Pattern
To stop these cycles from repeating, self-intervention is necessary. Take some time to reflect on your behaviours. In what ways are they contributing to the series of disappointing jobs?
A bit of personal evaluation is in order. Conduct a SWOT assessment (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Seek help from a career advisor and financial planner. Maybe there’s a career change in your future.
The bottom line is to take a more strategic approach to career planning. There’s no need to end up miserable over and over again.