Changing Jobs

Should You Change Companies or Careers When You Hate Your Job?

Written by Peter Jones

So you’re just not that into your job. Maybe you actively hate it and it’s making you intensely miserable. But before you go nuclear and quit—ask yourself a few questions first. It could well be that your biggest beef is not with your job, per se, but with a smaller aspect of it that’s fixable. You might be able to save yourself the career 180 by taking a few minutes to figure out what the real problem is.

First, ask yourself the following questions.

What do you like and dislike most about your job?

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your current job? Sit down and make an actual list. Start with the stuff you hate—that’s probably fSo you’re just not that into your job. Maybe you actively hate it and it’s making you intensely miserable. But before you go nuclear and quit—ask yourself a few questions first. remost in your mind anyway. Then force yourself to come up with a list of aspects of your work that are not only tolerable, but perhaps even a bit enjoyable. If you can’t think of anything that leaves you feeling fulfilled, then there’s your answer. If you can, and the list of negatives are all about your supervisor or your particular company’s policies, not your actual day-to-day work, then you might need to keep thinking before going for a career change.

What vocabulary would you use to describe your boss and coworkers?

Again, if these are negative, then it looks like you hate the people you work with, not the work itself. If they’re positive and you’re still miserable at work, then it might be the work that’s really got you down.

What would your perfect employer look like?

Fantasy baseball. Describe your dream employer. What kind of work culture and benefits would you want? What kind of supervision, training, challenges appeal to you? Describing what you don’t like is a lot easier than coming up with what you actually want, but this is an important step. Now look at what you’ve come up with: are you basically describing your current company or boss? And you still hate your job? That might mean you should change careers. At least now you’ll know what sort of company to look for when you do.

Have you been in this position anywhere else?

If you’ve worked in your current job before, just at a different company, and you liked it, that’s a good sign that you hate your company/employer, not your job. If you’ve never liked the work—even in a company drastically different from your current one, then, well, you have your answer.

If you figure out that you do, in fact, want to change careers, keep in mind that it can be a daunting process. Nobody loves change. And switching careers takes a lot of effort, time, money, and logistical prowess. If you’re sure you should, but are feeling hesitant, you might want to consider taking the leap sooner rather than later.

The trick is to make sure you make a better choice this time around. That means doing a bit more soul searching. Here are three things to keep in mind so you’ll choose a career and job that you actually like (and will never have to go through this again).

1. Pick your life, not your job.

You may think you want to do a certain kind of work. You want the perks and prestige that go with it, perhaps. But look at the lives of the people in that job. Do they have them? Do they have any time to spend with family or friends? Are they fulfilled in other areas? Do they die young from excessive stress? Find a job that gives you the lifestyle you want first and foremost. That will guarantee you’ll be happier in the long term.

2. Understand that the grass isn’t always greener.

You may catch a rosy outside glimpse into someone else’s life in some other career, but remember that looks can be deceiving. Dig a little deeper than the veneer of what you see looking in. Find the discrepancies and complications before you start fantasizing about someone else’s career. Spend more time thinking about what you like, rather than what looks shiny from the outside.

3. Don’t commit too fast.

This is especially true if you’re early in your career. Job hopping is becoming much less stigmatized. Search around a little bit before overcommitting to one path and getting stuck. Don’t rush off to a graduate program in something you’re not sure about, for example. Make sure you like it before you invest the time and money.

Just remember: ask yourself the hard questions, and follow your bliss as much as you can.

About the author

Peter Jones