5 Tips For Those Working In A Job They Hate

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Twenty-first century folk hero Steven Slater had fed-up employees everywhere cheering when he left the job he hated in a theatrical flourish. After a few choice words over the intercom to a problematic JetBlue passenger, ex-flight attendant Slater grabbed a couple of brewskies and slid down the plane’s emergency slide.

Why did Slater become such an instant smash across Facebook and the the rest of the internet? The answer is quite obvious: there are plenty of people out there who simply can’t stand their job. Living vicariously through Slater, they wish that they, too, could leap out of their current job, albeit with bridges burning behind them.

It’s the Economy

Given the recession, however, many people are staying in jobs or whole careers that they just don’t like because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find a new job if they quit. Even for underpaid workers, the thought of finding a good paying job just seems unrealistic in this job market. Many workers have come to an unfortunate conclusion about their current job that they don’t like: hey, at least it’s a job.
Nevertheless, even if you’re stuck for the time being in a job you don’t like, you can still learn from your experience. Here are five tips to help you make the most out of a difficult situation at work.

1. Figure Out What You Want

If you’re in a career or a job that you don’t like, the first thing you need to do is stop spending so much time complaining about it and figure out what you don’t like about it. Once you know what it is you don’t like about your job, you’ll be one step closer to understanding what you are looking for.
Start by asking yourself some questions. For example, is it the people you don’t like, the work itself you don’t like, the rate of pay, or something else? Answering these questions honestly will help you to zero in on what it is that you’re really looking for in a career.

2. Expand Your Skill Set

While you’re stuck in the job you don’t like, instead of coming home each day, collapsing on the couch, and complaining about work to whoever will listen, use your time wisely. Start thinking how you can expand your skill set and make yourself more marketable, so that when the black cloud of the recession finally lifts, you’ll find it easy to get a new job.
Enroll in a community college course or a continuing education course at a local university. Your proactive attitude towards furthering your education will look good on the new resume you hand your next potential employer.

3. Find a Coach

Even highly talented Olympic athletes rely upon coaches who help them push their limits and reach their highest potential. If it’s good enough for Olympic athletes, isn’t it good enough for you? These days, personal and professional coaches are a popular way to help you clarify what direction you want your life to take, along with what steps you need to get there. Ask around amongst your friends to find out if anyone has worked with a competent career coach.

4. Don’t Be “That Guy”

What goes around, comes around – right? One thing you can learn from the co-workers you currently can’t stand is to not turn out like them. If a big part of why you don’t like your job is the people you’re working with, don’t just complain about them, learn from them. What is it you don’t like – their short temper? Their patronizing attitude? Their non-stop yakking about themselves?

The truth is that we all have character flaws. Learn from the character flaws you see in your co-workers, and start working on those flaws within yourself. This strategy gives you a way to channel your frustration into an opportunity for self-improvement. Who knows – as you work on identifying and improving your own negative attitudes, you just might start to see the people around you in a different light.

5. At Least Do Something

The bottom line is that you don’t want to stay in a job that you can’t stand forever. Don’t get to the point that you turn into the next Steven Slater. Facebook folk hero or not, Slater now faces very real criminal charges and a complicated, messy aftermath to dramatically acting out.

Don’t wait until you’re about to pop to do something. Even if you’re not sure exactly what direction you want to take, start taking steps in some direction so that when the time is right, you’ll be able to get out of the job you don’t like, and find a truly satisfying line of work instead.

What tips do you have for those working a job they hate?

This guest post comes from who writes about Christian Finance over at

{ 20 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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20 Responses to “5 Tips For Those Working In A Job They Hate”

  1. Guy in San Antonio says:

    Work at your job for what you can learn, not what you can earn. If you hate it, learn as much as you can from the people around you.

    Also, if this is your first job, ask people who have had several. Some things about work just involve you having to realize that not every task is “fun”. I have seen a lot of young people quit our company becuase of this or that and it is almost always something that exists in every company (a person that they work with is a jerk, they don’t want to ever work past 5, etc). Once they get a taste of what a really crappy work environment is like, they wish they could come back! So, my advice is look before you leap.

    • Shirley says:

      Oftentimes the grass only looks greener on the other side of the fence until you actually stand in it.

      • jsbrendog says:

        this is very true. i have found this to be the case the majority of the time. you really have to be miserable to think it will be better. different is not always better

    • live green says:

      I agree completely. If you don’t like your job, at least get as much from it and take it to the next job where you can potentially make more money and may actually enjoy working there.

  2. MK Ultra says:

    “Many workers have come to an unfortunate conclusion about their current job that they don’t like: hey, at least it’s a job.”

    And with this single line “at least it’s a job” the 1% psychopaths that control the economy have made (minimum) wage slaves out of 99% of the population. This is as sick as sick gets!

  3. Shirley says:

    I once read a book titled “Never Work for a Jerk”. The lesson I kept from it was, “If you can’t change the situation, change the way you think about it.”

    Sometimes you just have to imagine yourself in the other person’s situation to help you understand their actions (or reactions). A better understanding can help to conquer anger and possibly lead to a different mindset.

    A different mindset or outlook might also do away with a lot of frustration.

  4. Yana says:

    I don’t see how anyone can continue working a job they hate. My husband is the primary wage-earner, and we have rules for employment. The first is that you work where you live. Some years ago, my husband’s position was eliminated at his job and he had to get unemployment. I guess the unemployment department gives information to temporary agencies or job middlemen, because my husband got a call offering a job at an Indian casino in another city 15 miles away – and the call was from some agency. He turned it down, even though we were quite desperate. Many “good” or well-paying jobs have serious negatives about them, but desperate people think they can’t make rules for themselves and their own lives, because they need the money or they need higher pay.

    The bottom line is don’t work a job you hate. During that time of unemployment, my husband found a job at the local newspaper. It was the most horrible job he’s ever had, not only low pay, but not giving the number of hours promised and making the work hours different than promised. He quit without giving notice (out of character for either one of us, but screw us that bad and you will get the same in return), and ended up back at his original job where they’d “eliminated his position”. He got a position, and while its name has been changed several times over the past 5 years or so, he is still at the job. There is some compromise, but after all, it is a job. The job suits him and our lifestyle better than any other I can think of.

    I think of a couple of our friends and their circumstances, as compared to ours. Other household #1’s husband took a job 40 miles away 20+ years ago, because they were desperate. He hates the city where he works, and has been threatened with knives by thugs while on the job. It pays pretty well after all these years, but he is not happy and thinking of retiring early and taking a lesser job locally. I think the lesser job will be the greater, because he won’t be throwing money away on commuting, and he will be close to home.

    Other guy #2 wants a high paying job, but his job requires him to purchase equipment for a kind of self-employment. Supposedly there is some sort of potential for good pay, but he does not even have enough income to live on his own. He lives with a relative and is single, and has been doing this for around 7 years. If he had my husband’s job, not thought of as a well-paying job, he would have a real and consistent income. And if he managed it properly, he could do pretty well. Other guy #2’s work requires a great deal of driving, paid for by himself.

    1) Work where you live, 2) Do not take an expensive job, 3) Don’t take a job you don’t want to do. You can’t build a reputation for reliability or competence if you can’t stay at a job.

  5. Good Lord, this is the most depressing post and set of comments I’ve ever read. People driving miles out of their way to go to jobs they hate? What kind of a way is that to live, aside from defensive and pathetic?
    I can’t believe no one’s even touched on the only lasting way to get out of the misery of a loathsome job:

    Quit, and work for yourself.

    What a ridiculous idea! It’s not that simple! We can barely put food on the table, and you want me to start a business!

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, listen to me. It doesn’t matter what you do – recording engineer/electrician/contractor/musician/writer/consultant/real estate agent/massage therapist and about a million others. You can start a business for not only next to nothing, but you’ll immediately incur financial advantages that the poor suckers who draw a salary never become privy to.

    I started my business when I had barely $1000 to my name. I bought a business license and registered as an S corporation. Within days I was writing off expenses that I couldn’t write off as a paid employee. I was deferring taxes, instead of being at the whim of the horrible women in my former employer’s HR department. FICA? Withholding? No thank you.

    Hardly anyone wants to hear this, and people will make all the excuses in the world, but being a wage slave is not a road to freedom. Examine our complex tax code and you’ll realize it’s set up to accommodate businesspeople – in other words, to screw over employees. You can complain about this, or you can realize that there’s practically no barrier to entry with regard to becoming an entrepreneur.

    Look at the Forbes list of the richest people on earth. None of them got rich drawing a salary. You can’t either.

    • Shirley says:

      That is definitely not for everybody. Many prefer to let the company handle the headaches and be able to leave their work at the job site rather than bring it home.

      • Starshard0 says:

        Maybe so, but in that case I don’t think they have much room to complain about their job since they won’t take the initiative to change it. I really hate my job and the only reason I haven’t quit yet is because I have a five year contract and don’t have much of a choice.

        Once I’m through, I plan on starting my own business.

        • I believe the only reason NOT to work for yourself is fear. But you can reduce risk by working towards your goal just a few hours a day and pinching pennies to save for a nest egg that will last you through your first year working for yourself. Greg is right. Everyone is good at something productive and enjoyable.

          When you do what you love, it loves you back. Sounds hokey, I know. But it’s a fact of life. Ask any successful individual and they will tell you that fear is the most limiting emotion. It’s what enslaves the population in this country to work too long with too few breaks, for not enough money.

          When I took the plunge, I was terrified, but I was determined to stop spending 2 hours on the road every day. I wanted that time for my kids. I made the decision to do it and put aside my fear.

          That’s all it is. Decide to do it, come hell or high water, and you WILL do it. Failure cannot happen unless you give up. Simple. Don’t give up, you cannot fail. When failure is not an option, success is the only option.

          Don’t be a sheep just because you are afraid to fail. Live your life and take a chance!

  6. Martha says:

    When I was working at a place that I didn’t care for I made a rule that every day I’d try to think of one thing positive until I was able to change my working situation. That allowed me to try to stay positive, even if it was only “I like that the security officer is always nice to me” or “I like that I work close enough to an awesome Italian restaurant.” Not always work related but something happy to make me smile. That way I could list those things off when I was really unhappy at work.

  7. Adam Gainer says:

    I work a job I don’t really like all that much. I have also worked jobs I completely hated. I recently got a part time (weekends only) job that I absolutely love. I consider that my real job and what I do during the week just what I do to stay busy.

  8. Adam says:

    I agree with the sentiments expressed that attitude helps a lot. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you have 100% control over how our respond to what happens. If someone is a jerk to you, you can get angry, or you can laugh. Whatever is irritating you about your job, just choose not to be irritated.

  9. TM says:

    @Greg, not everyone wants to work for themselves. Some people like to work for others. I have friends who wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I have been on both sides of the equation. I had my own company it was really successful. Then the industry I worked for collapsed thanks to the war. Bye business and hello homelessness for my family. Living in a cheap motel, you realize this is def. not what you want for your family.

    So I took a job with a big name company. Although I can’t stand my job (what I do is not what the job description said), I am thankful that I have a job, can buy my kids the meds they need, and until I am able to find another job or my industry recovers, I will make the best of it.

    The bottom line is that everyone has a calling. However it doesn’t mean that this is the time God wants you to act upon it. I’ll work for myself again I believe that with every fiber of my being, but not right now in this economy.

    I’ve been homeless with a family including small kids, for right now, I would rather deal with a bad job that pays consistent/well than put my family through homelessness again.

    I’ve learned to look at the glass as half full.

  10. Mike says:

    There’s an old saying “Work 8 hours, Play 8 Hours & Sleep 8 hours. But not the same 8 hours.” If you are going to spend a third of your life working, you’d better enjoy it. I’ve always believed that a lower paying job I enjoy is better than a higher paying job I hate to get out of bed to go to & get all stressed out over.

  11. CreditShout says:

    I agree with your last point that it’s better to have SOMETHING than nothing. You would definitely be more miserable if you didn’t have any job at all. I think a coach is a good idea too. It always helps to have someone as a mentor that’s rooting for you. I also like setting short term goals that don’t take long to reach so that you are achieving small feats along the way.

  12. freelancer says:

    I recently quit a job I hated. When I took it I Also took a 50% cut in pay just to be able to pay bills. Everyday I was depressed. I was totally overqualified. Six months in, they demoted me in spite of numerous emails from customers that gave me recommendations because of my hard work. Each email stated how pleased they were that I went the extra mile.

    Instead of web design and and signing customers on as members (customer support), I was to do only collections.

    But it wasn’t good enough. When I quit the owner took me aside and asked if I would do some contract work for him, which I did. I knew he didn’t need my skill set on a full time basis so I asked upfront for more $ per hour and a letter of reference which I got.

    I currently work freelance and its been tough. But i couldn’t stand working in an environment where I was micromanaged with my manager peering over my shoulder every minute. My cubicle was a third of the size of a regular cubicle and the total room as big as my small kitchen (6 cubes total).

    Yes I agree sometimes you have to do what you need to do to pay the bills, just make sure if its low paying that you at least enjoy the work and co-workers and have a side job like I do. Maybe even take classes to learn new skills if you have to.

  13. Craig says:

    Be creative, use your instincts, and take a leap of faith. Start your own LLC or Corporation. That’s what I did when I started The Alternative To Attorneys, Inc.–and now I can help others do the same thing. It’s very rewarding, and I love it!

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