I’m sick and tired of my dead-end job

Expert advice from Elaine Varelas, managing partner of Keystone Partners

Q. I’m sick and tired of my dead-end job. It’s making me miserable. I don’t even have the energy to job search because it leaves me so burnt out. Is it too risky to quit my job without having another lined up?

A. I’m sorry to hear that you are less than thrilled with your current situation—especially if you don’t see potential opportunity at the company. Dead end jobs can eat up years of a career before you know it. Make sure it is the job, and not you. Are there things you can do to make this a better opportunity? Have you asked to learn more? Or volunteered more to support others? Your attitude is a large part of how you behave at work every day and how you are perceived by others.

It is very risky to abandon a steady paycheck in exchange for an uncertain job search; most employers frown on job seekers who quit a job with nothing lined up. If you can’t run an effective job search while you are employed – the preferred method, quitting your job and accepting the job search as your new full-time position might be a successful strategy. Before doing that, take a full week vacation and do nothing but job search. See if you are prepared to take your search to the extreme.

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  • Do not burn any bridges. You might try to ask to work three days a week, so you can job search and your employer has help. If you do quit, remember to stay calm and do it professionally—even if you have been miserable at your job. Contacts are extremely important in the professional world and you do not want to leave on a bad note.
  • Ask for references—you can never have too many. Many managers will happily oblige.
  • Wake up. Just because you left your old job does not mean you should change your sleeping habits. Treat your job search like a full-time job. Wake up whenever you would have woken up for your old job and keep yourself on a rigid schedule. A new opportunity is out there, but you will never find it lying in bed until noon.
  • Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Be sure to include all new skills developed at your old job.
  • Connect with old and new contacts. Reach out to people who can help make sure that your resume gets in the hands of decision makers.
  • Before you do any of this, focus on identifying what you want to do. Look for jobs that interest you, and identify the themes. Look for organizations that align with your interests and passions. You’ll have more opportunities with longer term pay off than just jumping at a new job.

Leaving a job before having a new opportunity lined up is very risky, and doesn’t offer unemployment insurance. If you take measures to ensure you are committed to and skilled at finding a new job, it can be an effective strategy, but only if you treat the job hunt like it is your new, full-time position.

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