We’ve all had them. At some point or another, and probably more than once, we’ve endured what we considered to be a bad job. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it was a bad job until we get a good one and can consider it in retrospect. Bad jobs aren’t fun – but they can be a good thing. They give us perspective, allowing us to really appreciate when we eventually end up in a job we love. And besides that, even in a bad job, there are some great opportunities to leverage your current situation – even if it’s not so ideal.
First, you can propose solutions. Maybe one reason you don’t like your job is that you feel you and your co-workers aren’t set up for success. Perhaps the process is inefficient, or the incentives are misaligned. Document your observations and first-hand experience, and come up with solutions and workarounds. Present these to your boss. Your boss will probably be grateful to you. And even if the problems aren’t resolved, you can feel good knowing you’ve done your part to try and make things better.
Another thing you can do seems obvious, yet people are often afraid to do it. You can ask for a change. If you don’t enjoy the projects you’re working on, or even the people you’re working with, you can ask to be given different ones. Who knows, maybe your boss will say yes, and maybe that will be the simple change you needed to love a job you once disliked. You may not get what you want, but if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t.
Speaking of the people you’re working with – one of the most important thing you can do to be successful in any job is look for the good in the people around you. People aren’t perfect, but everyone has good qualities. Make a point to find them in others, and you’ll find yourself a lot happier. Maybe you’ll discover ways to tap into others’ talents and make your team more successful. In return, you’ll find people gravitating towards you because you’ll become someone who notices and brings out the best in them. Work can’t be a bad place when you’re surrounded with people you appreciate, and who appreciate you.
Also, if you want to make the best of a bad job, don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunities for growth that your company funds. Maybe your company pays for memberships to industry organizations, where you can become more knowledgeable about the business – or classes where you can stay up on your skill set. Don’t turn down free opportunities for growth. You’ll become better at what you do, or maybe discover it isn’t the company that you don’t enjoy, but the industry itself – which will help you to know your next step.
That brings us to the last piece of advice about making the most out of a bad job. Use your time in a bad job to do some self-reflection. Pinpoint what it is that really bothers you about the job. That way, when you choose your next position, you’ll do so with more self-awareness under your belt.