It’s nearly inevitable: at some point in your career, you’ll wind up in a dead-end job.
Maybe you took a promising gig, only to have the company falter or the management lose focus. Maybe you lost another job, and took something just to keep paychecks rolling in and a roof over your head.
However it happened, now that you’re here, you have one goal: keep your sanity until you can change your situation, whether by finding a new job or redeeming the one you have.
1. Pay Attention to What Makes This a Dead-End Job
Even the worst jobs teach you something. This job might teach you that you get resentful when you’re underpaid, resulting in a promise to yourself to negotiate for what you’re worth at the next one. Or, you might discover that people are more important to you than titles, and decide to interview carefully to up your chances of joining a team that really clicks with your values.
Sometimes, you’ll find out that you’re in the wrong career altogether, or that your industry is on its way out. That’s hard, but it’s better to know what you’re working with. Pay attention. What you learn now can set you on the path to a much better gig down the line.
2. Look for the Things You Like About Your Role
Even a bad job has upsides. You might dislike 85 percent of your duties, but that 15 percent is worth paying attention to, as well. If you hate your role, look around: does another department or job title seem to be having more fun than you are? Maybe it’s time to network your way into a parallel move, or at least learn more about what another job might entail. You might never learn to love the job you have right now, but you can find opportunities to move into something that’s a better fit. Noticing which parts of your job are at least OK will help.
3. Up-Skill Yourself
What do you need to add to your candidate profile to get the job of your dreams? Now’s the time to figure it out. Once you’ve identified titles or employers that seem more desirable, scan job postings and LinkedIn profiles of people who have the job you want, and make a list of job skills they have that you lack. Then, up-skill yourself into a more competitive position.
Now’s the time to hit up your old colleagues for coffee and attend every event to which you’re invited. The goal isn’t to hit up people for a new gig right off the bat; instead, you’re looking to strengthen connections in order to remind people that you’re out there and a viable candidate for the next awesome job that appears on their radar. Better yet, look for opportunities to help others. You’ll build your karma while also making a positive impression.
5. Invest in Life Outside of Work
What you do outside of work can have a positive effect on your career, even if it doesn’t add a line to your resume or introduce you to a single new contact. Especially when you’re having a tough time at the office, it’s important to rest, regroup, and practice good work-life balance. As the saying goes, work to live, don’t live to work. You’ll be happier and more successful, both personally and professionally.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you endured a dead-end job, and come out stronger? Tell us how you did it in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.