February 5, 2010
Five reasons to stick with a job you hate -- for now
Everyone's talking about job satisfaction and employee morale these days. Those miserable in their current position will likely find the unemployment numbers alone reason enough to hunker down and stay put. But for those not entirely convinced toughing it out at a less-than-ideal job is the way to go, I offer these five reminders:
You need the money. If you're like most Americans, you haven't saved a dime. And unless you have someone willing to support you for the next 6, 12, or however many months it takes to find a new position, you need to save your pennies before you take a flying jump off the unemployment cliff.
You're more attractive to employers when you're already employed. As discriminatory as this sounds, there are recruiters who operate this way. "Some think that if the person is employed in a down economy, he or she must be a little better than the one who was let go," says job hunting coach Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers, who doesn't approve of this attitude. "It's not logical, but it does seem to be a factor, even when so many good people have been laid off."
There are insider opportunities to be milked. Can you take a class or learn a new skill or technology on the company's dime? Can you have your employer subsidize a professional association membership or a trip to a trade show? Cozy up to some influential people at the office who might be good contacts once you've left the company? If you haven't explored such options, you may not be taking full advantage of all your current employer has to offer.
The devil you know might be better than the one you don't. Applying and interviewing isn't the only time-consuming aspect of changing jobs. Once you're in that shiny new position, it can take months to get up to speed. And if you invest, say, a year in finding a new job and then finding your groove in it only to realize you're in a far crummier situation than the one you left, you're going to wish you had cooled your jets until the job market improves.
Quitting without a game plan is a bad idea. Instead, research and plot your next move -- be it looking for a new position in your current field, transitioning to a new profession, starting your own business, returning to school, or traveling around the world -- while you still have a paycheck. Otherwise, there's a decent chance you'll wind up watching Oprah for months on end while you figure out your next step.
Still not convinced? Before you type that resignation letter, try these suggestions for improving your current job -- and your outlook. And if you're still determined to quit, make sure you take these precautions before you leap.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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