I Hate My Job: 19 Expert Strategies for Understanding Why, Solving Problems, & Moving on

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June 13, 2023
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min read

The Sunday Night Scaries. The Monday Morning Blues. Fatigue. Burnout. Apathy.

Nobody wants to have such negative feelings towards their job. So if you're feeling this way, know you're not alone.

But why do you feel the way that you do? Is it the tasks? The work environment? Your manager? Your colleagues? Or is there something else? 

If you can nail down the root cause and a potential solution but still think, "Yep, I hate my job!" it might be worth exploring other career opportunities that align better with your career goals.

Discovering the factors contributing to your dissatisfaction can be done by pinpointing what's going awry in your current job. By understanding these aspects, you can take steps towards finding a more fulfilling career that aligns with your interests and values (and, honestly, your happiness).

3 key takeaways

  • There are many reasons why you might be feeling down about your job
  • If you want to quit your job, you should weigh the pros and cons of doing so
  • When you're ready to start looking for a new job, come up with a plan

Common job challenges and how to fix them

When you hate your job, quitting can seem like the solution to all your woes. But it's important to take the time to pinpoint what exactly about your job is making you feel unhappy. Is it the work itself? The environment? Your co workers or management? 

It's important to first identify the problem and then work to fix it.

Poor work-life balance

When you signed onto your current position, you probably expected to work a certain number of hours per day or week. Creeping past this scope occasionally is one thing—but surpassing your expected hours daily is definitely a problem. You are more than your job, and you deserve to have a fulfilling professional life and personal life. 

The fix: Communicate appropriately and set boundaries.

If you're comfortable doing so, talk to your manager about how you feel.

Communicate that you're working more hours than you anticipated, and propose breaking your work up in such a way that you're not left working after hours.

Maybe different or new processes need to be implemented, or maybe certain weekly deadlines can be shifted. Whatever the case, raise this concern with your leadership team so that you don't get burnt out or left with unrealistic expectations. 

You can also try being firm with setting boundaries after work hours. For example, when emails, texts, or other communications come in once you're off the clock, try setting an out-of-office message that explains that you'll answer once the workday resumes. Saying "no" can be powerful and help you keep your peace of mind. 

No motivation

If you've lost your motivation at work, you're not alone. Sometimes it happens after a specific event, like a change in ownership or reduction in pay. Other times, it happens if you've been experiencing burnout. Not feeling motivated in your job is frustrating and takes a toll on your mental health, as well as your physical health.

You can pinpoint what energizes you and what drains you with Teal's research-based Work Styles Assessment. In just 2-3 minutes, you'll get tailored insights as well as the ability to collect real-time feedback from your current colleagues.  

Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.
Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.

The fix: give yourself rewards and incentives and rediscover your why.

Giving yourself a reward when you accomplish certain tasks can make work more fun. While this isn't a strategy that will work for building motivation in the long term, it can still give you the push you're needing. 

More important for your well-being, though, is reconnecting with your "why"—the reason why you do what you do in the first place. Get introspective, and don't be afraid to ask yourself hard-hitting questions like, "Why did I start this job, and why should I or shouldn't I continue?" 

Think hard about your "why," and if it doesn't align with your current reality, that's a strong sign that a career change is needed. 

Little to no flexibility

Over 70% of today's workers prefer a flexible work model, whether that's hybrid or fully-remote work. Having little to no flexibility in your job can be a dealbreaker and make it difficult, or nearly impossible, to do your job effectively. 

The fix: make a business case for flexibility. 

Your employer may see flexible working environments as detrimental to the office camaraderie and job functions that require you to be in person. One way to combat this is to pose your accommodations as a positive for both you and the business. Providing you with greater flexibility in your working hours will yield advantages for both you and the company, as it will enable you to perform your job more effectively.

No recognition

Getting recognized and appreciated for your hard work feels amazing and helps reassure you that you're doing well in your role. Without positive feedback, it's easy to feel undervalued. 

The fix: Ask for feedback from your colleagues, talk to your manager, and make sure you celebrate your own wins. 

There are a few different ways to gain the recognition you're seeking. The first step is to ask your colleagues about how you're doing. Try asking them for feedback and if they feel that you are underappreciated at work. Their perspective is valuable and will help you gauge whether or not you're being underappreciated or if it's all in your head. 

Similarly, have a discussion with your manager. Mention that receiving feedback on a more regular basis will help you feel more motivated to do your best work. You'll also be able to identify areas of improvement more quickly. 

Lastly, reaffirm your own successes by capturing them. Did someone give you a positive comment? Did your work have an impact this month? Whatever the case may be, write it down. This exercise helps you feel more connected to your job and will also come in handy when it comes time to discuss a potential promotion, as well as update your resume with impactful, metric-driven achievements. 

Toxic management

Toxic management will belittle and berate the people below them, which creates a miserable and emotionally-charged environment that you naturally want to escape. A bad boss and toxic workplace culture, however, are two different things. If you have the former but not the latter, you might be able to make things work. 

The fix: Give your manager feedback and make other connections and allies at work. 

The first thing you can try is to give your boss constructive feedback. This can be through a formal, built-in process you already have at work or on a more ad hoc basis (like during a one-on-one meeting). Give your manager the benefit of the doubt—they might not even know that their behaviors are toxic. Try to understand where they're coming from and be as empathetic as you try to dive deeper. 

Making allies with the other people on your team can make or break your experience with a toxic manager. There's strength in numbers. If enough people are dissatisfied with management, it might be enough to enact real change at your company, and develop a stronger company culture. 

In a similar vein, make connections with other teams at work. If a position on another team opens up, your existing relationship with that team can open the door to switching over, and you can regain your job satisfaction. 

Lack of growth opportunities

A dead-end job isn't ideal. When there's no way to grow and advance within your organization, seeking a better opportunity is totally understandable. However, it's important to make sure that your current job is actually a dead end. There may be other opportunities in your current role that you have yet to explore or are unaware of. 

The fix: Speak up and gain experience outside of work. 

A conversation about growth can work wonders. Your boss should also want to see you advance and take on new challenges and responsibilities. Talk to them about your desire to learn new skills and move onwards and upwards to see if there are any ways to do so at your current company.

Another way to gain the experiences you're looking for is to seek opportunities outside of work. For example, volunteering with an outside organization might give you some of the leadership skills you want to hone. 

By taking the steps to identify the problem, it's possible that you can fix it without having to find a new position.

What to consider before quitting

Before you put in your two-week's notice, be sure to consider each of the following points.

  1. Do you have any alternative employment opportunities lined up?

Quitting a job can be significantly less stressful if you have another job already lined up. If you're considering quitting, also consider sending out job applications and interviewing while you're employed by a different company. Doing so can make your transition more seamless and lead to a smaller gap in your resume. 

If you're quitting without another job lined up, consider other forms of work that may be readily available to you. This can look like anything from freelancing, contracting, consulting, working part-time, or working with a friend or former colleague. 

  1. Can you financially afford to be unemployed? 

Nearly 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck—so leaving a job that pays the bills can be disastrous if not planned out. 

Be sure to evaluate your average monthly expenses against your current income and any savings. Crunch the numbers and determine if you can afford to live off of what you have in savings or if there are any expenses you can cut temporarily. If not, quitting your job without comparable pay lined up may not be feasible. 

  1. Are there certain benefits you (or your family) depend on? 

Certain jobs come with certain perks. Namely: health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and paid time off. Quitting your job can mean losing access to these perks for both yourself and your family.

Quitting your job may affect more than just you. This is especially true if you have family members that rely on certain benefits for their health and well-being; make sure you take them into account before making a final decision. 

  1. Can you switch teams or departments at your current company? 

If your company is mid to large-sized, it may be worth exploring other options internally before looking externally.

Are there other teams or departments you'd be interested in or comfortable with joining? Are any of those departments currently hiring? It's worth exploring before you take a leap. 

  1. Can you renegotiate your salary? 

If your salary is a sore spot, consider opening up a salary renegotiation conversation with your boss or HR about renegotiating. Your company might be willing to retain you for a higher salary rather than go through the process of finding someone else—you won't know the answer until you ask. 

To renegotiate your salary successfully, it's important to do your research to understand how you should be compensated. Teal offers a free Compensation Research Worksheet that you can use to ensure you've done your due diligence. 

How to prepare to quit 

So you've considered everything, and you're still leaning towards quitting—and that's okay. The most important part of quitting is to be confident that it's the best possible decision for you and your career. 

Here's what to do to quit your job. 

Be sure about your decision

As we stated earlier—confidence is key. Going over the pros, cons, finances, and all other variables is paramount to solidifying a decision to quit. Make sure you've thought things through and aren't quitting out of haste or impulse—especially if you have dependents. 

Check your finances

You might've already done this, but it doesn't hurt to do it again. Most experts recommend having three to six months' worth of savings before quitting your job. Check your bank accounts, loan statuses, 401ks/403bs, current benefits package, and whatever other assets you have. 

If you don't have enough saved, you may want to wait to quit until you do. To help get you there faster, you could take up a side hustle or cut expenses wherever possible. 

Understanding what you need is really important. To help you do that, we've built a simple little spreadsheet tool, the Compensation Projector, that helps you calculate your budget.

This tool helps you calculate your budget, record your market value research, and helps you plan your target salary range.
This tool helps you calculate your budget, record your market value research, and helps you plan your target salary range.

Give your notice

Each company has its own policies and procedures about how to give notice, but you should always aim to give your notice gracefully. Review your company's procedures and follow the appropriate protocol. 

Generally speaking, two weeks' notice is the standard amount of time to give your company notice that you're leaving. Speak with your boss, as well as HR, and be prepared to give an exit interview. 

Your company may also ask you to leave immediately, so prepare for that possibility as well. Otherwise, during your last two weeks, wrap up your projects and work to create as smooth a transition as possible for the next person in your role. 

Tell your colleagues

The last step is to tell your colleagues, or anyone else you built a relationship with during your employment, that you're leaving. These might be tough conversations, but it's always best that they hear the news from you rather than someone else. Delivering this news shows that you care about them enough to share an important update, which builds trust and camaraderie.

How to run a strategic job search

Ready to find your next job? You've got this. Run a strategic job search with the right tools to land a dream job even faster. 

Update your job search assets

By job search assets, we mean your resume and cover letter. Make sure your resume is up-to-date, easy to read, and well-formatted. Your resume should have: 

  • Your full name
  • Your contact information
  • Your current city
  • Your target title
  • A professional summary
  • Your educational details 
  • Your work experience with relevant keywords (more on this below) 
  • Your skills 

Similarly, your cover letter should draw from your most recent job experiences to tell a story as to why you'd be a great fit for the role(s) you're applying to. 

Tailor your resume and cover letter to each role

Every job you apply to will call out specific hard and soft skills in its description, even if you're applying for the same job title at different companies. To give you the best chance at getting called for an interview, your resume and cover letter should be tailored to each role. 

That might sound like a lot of work, but the good news is there are tools to tackle it. Teal's AI Resume Builder can do it for you. Teal lets you check your resume against the keywords in any job description so that you can speak to each one accordingly. 

@teal_hq If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your job search, here’s a way to organize the jobs you’re applying to so you don’t have to keep them all in your mind. You want to visualize the process and physically move each job through the 5 stages of a job opportunity as you go about your search. #jobsearchtips #jobsearching #jobhunt #jobapplication #resumetips #resumetok #careertok ♬ Say So (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Doja Cat] - Elliot Van Coup

Prepare for job interviews 

While you can't predict exactly how an interview will go, you can prepare and practice the more common interview questions beforehand. Draft rough outlines for your answers and rehearse them ahead of time. Practice answering questions with close friends, family, mentors, or even with yourself. 

Within Teal’s Job Application Tracker are tips and resources to help you practice interviewing.

Use the Practice Interviewing tips within Teal’s Job Application Tracker to help you present your best self in an interview.
Use the Practice Interviewing tips within Teal’s Job Application Tracker to help you present your best self in an interview.

Pro Tip: Stuck on what to say? Using ChatGPT for job interviews can give you baseline answers to draw from and expand on.

Track your job applications

It's important to keep track of where you are in each interview process during your job hunt. Doing so will let you stay organized, gain insights into how your search is going, and better prepare you to send prompt follow-up emails.

You can track your job search in a customized Excel file or Google Sheet, but Teal's Job Application Tracker is even easier to use.

With the Job Application Tracker, you can save and import job listings you find online and then track your statuses and timelines accordingly. The Job Application Tracker also generates follow-up emails for you—all you need to do is copy, paste, and send. 

Take control of your career happiness by signing up for Teal today

Quitting a job is an important personal decision and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. Taking the time to dig deep and prepare yourself both mentally and financially for any future career moves is critical to your overall well-being.

Leaving a job that you've outgrown is part of the journey. And you don't need to go it alone. Create an account here to tackle your job search using Teal's free resources and tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify the specific aspects of my job that are making me unhappy?

Start by reflecting on your daily tasks, work environment, and relationships with colleagues. Keep a journal to note moments of dissatisfaction and look for patterns. Are you feeling unchallenged, undervalued, or is it the company culture? Identifying the root causes can help you decide whether to address these issues or seek new opportunities.

What steps should I take before deciding to leave my job due to unhappiness?

Before making a decision, try to solve the problems: communicate your concerns with your manager, seek mentorship, or propose changes that could improve your situation. Consider the financial implications and have a plan, such as updating your resume and networking. If possible, don't leave until you have another job lined up.

How do I maintain my mental health while working in a job I hate?

Prioritize self-care by setting boundaries to prevent work from overwhelming your personal time. Engage in activities that bring you joy outside of work hours. Seek support from friends, family, or a professional counselor. Remember, your job does not define your worth, and taking steps towards a more fulfilling career will improve your well-being.

Emily Polner

Emily Polner is a freelance writer based in New York City, passionate about career development and helping people find new roles.

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