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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well?

Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well?

Why are you so sad? You’re getting paid, right? And you’re getting paid well, right?

I know why you’re so sad.

Because you dread going to work every single day. You spend your lunch hour crying with your office door closed. You go home and drink alone or stress eat like nobody ever stress-ate before. Or just go right to bed and start the cycle all over again.

The bad news is that this is not an uncommon occurrence for American adults in the work place. A Gallup poll published in September of 2017 stated that 85% of adults worldwide hate their jobs.[1] From this poll, 30% of Americans are engaged at work, which is a better statistic; but this still means that 70% of Americans are not enjoying their 40-plus hours every week at their place of employment.

If you’re one of the 70%, then you have probably considered looking elsewhere to make a living and earn so you can pay your bills. But at what point do you start looking for new work? And at what point do you throw in the towel and just quit? Depending on the intensity of your situation, this could be a fine line or a wide gap.

How Did You Get Here?

In my 25 years working in higher education, I’ve held nine different jobs at nine different colleges and in seven different states. When I say that out loud to others, I sometimes get strange looks…or someone will just say, “Wow.” But my own career trajectory is not that off base of the average American. Balance Careers states that the average employee will change jobs ten to fifteen times with 12 being the standard number of job changes.[2] Meaning I’m below the national average. So take that, Position Tenure Critics.

Still, it would seem odd to intentionally leave a position after 9 months, as I did once back in the early 2000’s. While I did not “quit” that job, I began my exit plan shortly after the fifth month of employment.

Was I unhappy? Not exactly. But I also did not feel supported by my supervisor, and the question of “fit” plagued me on a weekly basis. While my situation was not unbearable day in and day out, there was one major Camel-Back-Breaking-Straw, so to speak, that propelled me into the direction of weekly searches on Higher Ed Jobs.

But I’m very aware that some of you out there are in a situation like I described in the early paragraph of this article and prompted your attraction to read more…

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Why People Stay in an Unhappy Job

For those of you in the miserable job that makes you cry, drink, and stress eat on a daily basis….how would you answer that question? Do any of these ring a bell?

1. This was the first job you were offered after college or graduate school.

When I was in my final year of graduate school, my friend Lori and I were hell bent on having a job in place before commencement. And I had been dead set on moving to Chicago because that’s my hometown.

I had three great interviews in Chicago, all at private schools. One by one those jobs went away and were offered to other candidates. Now it’s April and graduation is less than a month away. My final interview was at a university in Washington.

When I was offered the job, I considered my choices – take the job or hold out for something else. The latter would have made me the only person in my Hall Manager Cohort without a job at commencement. And I just couldn’t have that.

I took the job and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I got married there, too. I met my best friend there. And left the job after two years. It was a matter of fit.

2. It was the best salary you were offered.

I’ve never had the luxury of choosing a job based on the salary, but plenty of my friends have. In fact, I even gave a friend at my current employer a hard time for choosing salary over quality of life issues.

I can’t tell you not to take a job if the salary is good. But if the salary is the only reason you’re taking that job, then I would try and find one more compelling reason why you should say “yes.”

Make sure that you have something to fall back on if the rest of the job turns out to be horrible.

3. Your friends work there.

Who doesn’t want to work with their friends, right? Especially if one or more of them is having an amazing experience and they are just so excited that you are going to be working there too.

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Keep in mind that your friend’s reason for accepting a job may not align with yours. Having that friend at work may be the only blessing at this particular place of employment.

4. Your parents (significant other, mentor, etc.) told you to take it.

Ah…the outside influence. Not always so outside.

It’s tough to tell the people closest to you to bug off when it comes to taking a job. Easy for them to say “go for it,” right? They aren’t the ones who have to go there day in and day out.

Pressure from those closest to us can be really difficult, but in the end it’s your decision. If you find yourself in a job under these circumstances, then you don’t just have to figure out how to get out of the job; you have to figure out how to break the news to the pressure-giver.

5. You were afraid that there would not be any other offers.

You can relate this one back to my story in #1. When you are really desperate to find something because you need to get out of a nasty situation…or if you just get freaking tired of going on interviews, that first offer can be a god-send and let you breathe a sign of relief.

I’ve been down this road. I was not originally planning on leaving Position #7; but when my supervisor told me that this was as far as I could advance in that organization, I thought hard about whether staying was a good idea. I applied for jobs that did have room for advancement as well as higher salaries; and when one was offered to me, “FOMO” (fear of missing out) hit me in the face so hard I couldn’t sleep for two days.

Yup. I took that job. Yup. It was partially a big mistake. But that’s another story for another article.

There are probably another 50 or so answers to the “How Did I Get Here?” question…and you may have more than one that applies.

Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Unhappy with Your Job

With all that in mind, here are some thoughts related to quitting your day job if you are unhappy but the money is good:

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1. What specifically is making you unhappy?

Is it the work itself? The commute to work? Your supervisor? Your colleagues? The salary? That there are no good vending machines or you can’t walk to Starbucks?

Nail down specifically what is making you unhappy. Then – consider whether you have any power over changing those things.

For example, if you don’t like the work itself but you do like your supervisor, then sit down with her and talk through it.. Maybe she just needs to hear you say you aren’t fulfilled in the work.

If your colleagues aren’t positive people or you just don’t get along with them, do you have the opportunity to switch teams or move to a different cubicle?

Don’t make the decision to quit if you can’t say why you would be quitting.

2. Is your current career field nourishing your passion and purpose?

I worked in certain facet of higher education and student affairs for more than 20 years; and I’d say for 15 of those years (in different increments), the position was fueling my purpose. And the times when I felt “wrong” in the job was usually when I would get itchy to leave.

The idealist in me always says that we work way too hard day in and day out to do something that we don’t enjoy. So why WOULD you stay in a position that doesn’t support your passion or purpose?

3. Are you prepared to make a lateral move?

I am thinking of a recent conversation I had with a counselor over the notion of “would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?” And I think that Jen Sincero said that too. But it makes complete sense.

Would you rather be happy in a position that might be a lateral move? Or would you rather dig your heels in waiting for promotion or advancement to present itself?

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Part of choosing happiness means putting that choice first, and so your ambition may need to take a quick break while you remove yourself from the toxic place currently causing your unhappiness.

4. Do you have a plan?

Unless you have a rich uncle hiding out somewhere who can support you, then you probably aren’t in a position to walk into your supervisor’s office and give notice immediately. You’ll need a plan.

Can you afford to take a month or so off and do some soul searching? Does leaving your job also mean leaving your field and trying something new? Will you need to update your resume and let your references know that you’re searching? There are many things to take into consideration once you start leaning towards quitting.

I have only quit a job once without a new job waiting for me elsewhere. At the time, I was honoring my husband’s desire for a location change (warmer weather). And he had been such a good sport about all the other job changes (at this stage I was on Position #4).

We moved from Illinois to Arizona with some semblance of a plan; but I did temporary apartment leasing for almost six months before landing on my feet with something that felt permanent. If I could go back and do it all again, I would have beefed up that plan just a little bit.

Final Thoughts

Only you can make the choice about quitting your job. You have to be able to make that decision and live with it regardless of where you stand. But weigh every factor first and talk to your close friends and your family while you are deciding.

The grass may be greener on the other side, especially if you have time to fertilize it first.

More Resources About Career Change

Featured photo credit: abi ismail via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gallup: The World’s Broken Workplace
[2] The Balance Careers: How Often Do People Change Jobs?

More by this author

Kris McPeak

Educator, Author, Career Change and Work/Life Balance Guru

Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy but Pays Well? 9 Practical Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance in a Busy World How to Switch Careers and Get Closer to Your Dream Job How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position The Most Critical Career Advice that Helps You Climb the Career Ladder

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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