Why your terrible job is a great place to learn

Stop wasting time typing "I hate my job" into Google.   

Most of us have had at least one. That job. The one that makes you dread Mondays, count the clock on Fridays and cringe the rest of the time. It could be terrible management, overly competitive coworkers, a bad role fit, one bad boss or a completely disorganized organization. Unless you are dealing with abuse or harassment (in which case, escape ASAP), take your terrible job as a chance to learn. I once had a boss who used to have me make her her morning iced chai. I’m now a barista-level pro. No matter how awful - every gig is a chance to learn In demand job skills.


 1.    Learn what you really want to do -
As long as you don’t get bogged down in the negativity cess pool - you can use a terrible job to clarify your career path. Once you have identified WHY you hate this job, you can define what job would be a better fit and go after it - specifically. On a broader level- use this job not to just define aspects that you don’t like - but WHY you don’t like those things. Do you dislike your of a boss because she’s ‘mean’ or is it that she is truly a poor-communicator? Is your boss being unreasonable with 7a.m. conference call requests or is it that you actually hate the role of social marketing coordinator?

2. Learn how to network-
Most of the time you are not alone in a ‘bad job.’ There are others in those trenches with you - and those types of bonds tend to be strong. In a few months, after you’ve all moved on, you’ll have a nifty network to build on. Clients you worked well with, the understanding HR Director, even the ‘bad’ boss or overly-competitive coworker may be useful connections in the future (so try not to burn bridges on exit).

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3. Learn how to beef up your resume-
A future boss won’t know that your poorly trained manager screamed at the intern in every meeting (or, like one friend of mine who’s boss was a well-known phone thrower.) What they will know is your title, responsibilities, wins and company name. Assuming you have stuck it out longer than a few weeks - more experience on your resume always looks great. Just be sure to not badmouth the screamer (or thrower) in a future job interview - that makes you, not him, look bad.

4. Learn how to manage-
Let’s face it. In most cases, a ‘bad job’ is a bad boss. Stay professional, be as effective as you can, watch them and learn what not to do. What do they do that rubs employees the wrong way? How do they treat their peers vs. their direct reports? When you work your way up to a leadership position elsewhere, be sure to not emulate their actions. Be the boss you wish you had.

5. Learn how to communicate-
This is the ultimate chance to hone your communication skills. When you have shoddy management,  you were hired for a job they’re not having you do, or downsizing has left you insanely overloaded - you will spend time having uncomfortable conversations. This is your chance to learn how to handle these situations professionally. Be calm, rational, pro-active, not defensive and go into each interaction with facts and a cool head. You may not ‘win’ every discussion, but you’ll certainly have taken the high road and gained an incredibly useful skill.

     Instead of sitting around all day asking “Should I get a new job?” - take this layover in job-hell as a HUGE chance to learn. There is value in every experience and personal connection.

Get creative on the job. The trick is to see the positive aspects of even the most terrible gig. As long as you don’t wallow in the back biting, negative, border-line abusive, catty, or just plain ‘bad’ culture - you’re in the winning seat. Treat it as a not-so-pleasant, but still professional, learning experience before you know it you’ll be moving on to a much better job with a boatload of new skills under your hat.

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