14 May 2024

Why people hate their jobs, but never leave

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man sitting at his desk with his face in his hands

You daydream about working in a new place, yet the fear of unknown territories and unfamiliar faces freezes you in your tracks. Photo: BetterUp.

James Mason says there are multiple reasons why people stay anchored in jobs that they have outgrown or find increasingly boring or stressful. He outlines some common concerns and how to address them.

Do you find yourself grinding away at a job you can’t stand? Perhaps you’re hanging on, holding out hope for that dream job to come along.

Yet, time slips by – weeks turn into months, then years – until suddenly you’re hit with the realisation you’re trapped.

Has the prolonged exposure to a toxic workplace convinced you you’re not cut out for better, leaving you feeling stuck and unable to climb the career ladder?

Rest assured, you’re far from alone. Here are some reasons why many find themselves languishing in a job that drains their self-esteem, and what to do about it.

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The ”I’m not good enough” syndrome: This is like being stuck in a loop of self-doubt, where the idea of being an impostor in your own professional story paralyses you.

You daydream about working in a new place, yet the fear of unknown territories and unfamiliar faces freezes you in your tracks.

Why this self-sabotage, especially when you’re already handling your responsibilities competently in your current role?

Remember, the world is full of people who, despite not being the brightest bulbs in the box, hold various important positions and strut around with unearned confidence.

If they can do it, why doubt your abilities? You have what it takes to excel; it’s just about believing in yourself and making the move.

The dreaded recruitment process hurdle: The ordeal begins with the mundane task of updating your resume, a chore that seems especially daunting when you’re already settled (albeit unhappily) in your current role.

The tedium intensifies as you trudge through the application process, painstakingly filling out lengthy forms that regurgitate the information already outlined in your resume.

Then, facing the possibility of multiple interview rounds, each with its own set of challenges and unknowns, makes the entire journey seem not worth it.

To get around the recruitment process with less dread and more determination, consider these actionable strategies.

Tackle the resume refresh in small, manageable chunks. Focus on updating one section at a time, like your most recent job responsibilities or skills. Utilise online tools or templates to make the process smoother and more efficient.

Instead of casting a wide net, research companies and positions that genuinely interest you. Tailor your applications to these opportunities.

Familiarise yourself with common interview questions and practise your responses. Understanding the typical structure of interviews in your industry can also demystify the process and make it less intimidating.

Fear of the new and unknown: The prospect of diving into a new role with unfamiliar tasks can indeed seem daunting.

The anxiety of not grasping the new responsibilities, coupled with the fear of failing to remember crucial information, can be overwhelming.

Instead, embrace the idea that learning and intelligence are not fixed traits but can be developed with time and effort.

Viewing challenges as opportunities to grow can make the process of learning a new job less intimidating.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Utilise the training and support provided by the new organisation and look for mentors or colleagues who can guide you through the initial phase of your new role.

Fear of rejection: Dealing with rejection, especially after numerous attempts, can stir feelings of inadequacy and lead to a defeatist mindset, convincing you to stay put in an unsatisfactory job out of fear of further disappointment.

Instead of taking rejection personally, view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Each rejection provides valuable feedback allowing you to improve for future interviews.

It’s important to remember that rejection is a normal part of the job-search process. It doesn’t define your worth as a person or a professional.

If repeated rejections are taking a toll, it might be worth exploring different industries, roles, or organisations that align with your skills and experience.

Sometimes a slight shift in direction can open new doors and opportunities.

The anxiety of passing the probation period: After getting a job, the real challenge begins, and it’s common to feel anxious about performing well during the probation period.

The thought of not meeting the employer’s expectations or being in an unfavourable work environment can be nerve-racking, causing doubts about job security and suitability.

To alleviate these concerns, clarify what is expected of you during the probation period. Knowing the goals, objectives and success criteria can help you focus your efforts and meet the required standards.

Don’t wait for formal reviews; proactively ask for feedback from your supervisor and colleagues.

Regular check-ins can help you gauge your performance, address any issues early, and adjust your approach as needed.

Establishing good relationships with your new colleagues can make a significant difference.

Not only does it create a supportive work environment, but it also helps in understanding the organisational culture and navigating workplace dynamics more effectively.

Fear of unpleasant co-workers in the new job: The apprehension of ending up with co-workers who are more difficult to work with than your current ones can be overwhelming.

Approach the new job with an open mind. People differ widely, and you may find colleagues you resonate with even more than those at your current workplace.

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Make an effort to get to know your new colleagues. Establishing rapport and building relationships early on can help ease the transition and foster a supportive work environment.

Find shared interests or goals with your new co-workers to create a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect. This can also ease any initial tension or awkwardness.

Sometimes, it takes time to adjust to new dynamics and build relationships. Allow yourself the time to acclimatise and understand the new work culture.

Now get yourself out there and just do it.

James Mason has worked for various organisations over an 18-year career. A seasoned blogger, he has created the blogsite Office Bantomime. A longer version of this article first appeared on the Office Bantomime website.

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