We Asked Experts How to Survive a Soul-Sucking Job

When you can't tell your boss to shove it, and there's just no way you'll ever love it.
July 26, 2018, 4:53pm
Image via Shutterstock

Whatever the reason, you’re stuck in a job you hate and it’s not possible to move on. Yes, ineffective management, incompetent coworkers, unfulfilling work, onerous workloads, and long commutes can take a major mental toll.

But bills still need to be paid. Maybe you (and your loved ones) depend on the medical benefits the job provides. Or maybe you live someplace with few employment options so even though your job is killing your soul, that hellacious gig is your best bet for the foreseeable future.


However, just because you’re stuck, it doesn’t mean you’re helpless or out of options. We asked coaches, podcasters, and hiring industry veterans about what advice they’d give someone who hates their job with the intensity of a thousand suns. Here’s what they said.

Reflect and Be Proactive

I would ask myself three questions:

1. Why do I hate this job? Is it specifically the role, the co-workers, boss, the commute, the workload, etc.? Defining what it is will help to not repeat the situation in the future.

2. What resources do I need to job search? Do I need to hire a resume writer, a career coach, work on my networking, etc.?

3. How can I take ownership of this situation? What can I change to make the workday manageable?

Don't make the mistake of running away from a job by taking any job offer. Think carefully if this next position will get you closer to your career goal. The idea of work has changed over the years, and things that weren't even jobs five or ten years ago are now full-time careers. Figure out what works for you and take action. - Neely Raffellini, founder, 9 to 5 Project, a website that helps women get the tools they need to land the job they want

Work on Yourself

Instead of updating your resume or haphazardly applying to random jobs that won’t improve your well-being, invest that time in yourself. Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to try. Go to the movies by yourself once a week. Call up that friend you keep rain-checking on. Spend time with people you care about. Do something that brings you a little joy, ideally something that engages your curiosity, compassion, energy. When we’re stuck in a rut it helps to try something new or forgotten to inject healthy energy back into our lives. Remember, you’ve overcome difficult chapters before. You’re doing the best you can, and with a little more intentionality, honesty, and strategy, you’ll overcome this one too. - Alex Durand, Purpose & Change Coach

Seek Help and Cover Your Tracks

There has never been a better time to hate your job than right now! There are a more resources than ever before. Update your resume. If your current situation is untenable, start job hunting on the side. Sign up for email alters on Google for jobs, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and LinkedIn to maximize your search. Look for companies that are growing and do your homework on them before you apply. Check Glassdoor for reviews and see what its like to work there.

If job hunting is not an option right now you might try talking to your boss about your unhappiness. If you are an employee they value they may be open to helping you in the short term while they look for a better fit in the organization. If your boss is the reason, consider finding another confidant in your department to talk to. If you have decided to look for another gig outside the company, do it discreetly. Schedule interviews for lunch or early morning/late afternoon. Never leave your resume on the printer. - Chris Russell, Managing Director of RecTech Media and host of RecTech: the Recruiting Technology Podcast

If All Else Fails, Keep It Movin’

If you don't like where you are, move. You aren't a tree. I love this saying because getting out of a bad situation is often within one's control. It may not happen immediately, but you have to be proactive. So, if you hate your job, begin making a plan to find a new one, but keep in mind that some problems at work can be solved with a bit of effort. It may not be easy to find a new job, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. It's easier to find one when currently employed, so if it's possible, hold on to what you have until a new employer makes an offer. The one exception to this rule comes when a job is making you sick. Get the heck out of there as soon as you can. Your health must always come first. - Dawn Rosenberg McKay, career specialist who writes about career planning for

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