Lessons Learned from a Bad Job

As the year winds down, it’s a logical time to reflect on what has happened throughout the last twelve months. If you’ve endured a bad job this past year, be assured your time has not been wasted! Consider it as time served in the school of hard knocks.

Honeymoon is Over

Often bad jobs were ideal jobs when advertised. Most people agree that bad jobs often start out good, with everyone within the office on their best behavior and the boss engaged and ready to help. Sometimes the switch to nightmare scenario is gradual, and sometimes it’s immediate. However, you are not alone; most people have experienced disillusionment in their professional life and became stronger because it.

Some popular reasons a position does not end up as advertised:

  • Hiring manager leaves or is fired
  • Role was not established or clearly defined internally
  • Coworkers are overly competitive with one another
  • Collaboration is frowned upon
  • Manager(s) dictate tasks and do not lead by example

Overall, when a job is awful, it is due to a toxic work environment. Even the worst jobs out there can be tolerable if an organization has a positive work culture, where the employees feel supported, valued and heard. Without those characteristics, any job would be torture.

The good news is, everyone has the right to leave a bad job. The key is to realize the time served can be used to better the future. All that is needed is the presence of mind to step outside the negative feelings conjured and realize there are lessons to be learned from the experience.

Finding the Silver Lining

When you are in the middle of a bad situation, hearing “when a door closes, a window opens” is not usually well received. However, it can help make the next professional experience a better one. When planning to rally and make sure the next position is a positive experience, it is important to glean the lessons learned from the bad experience to move on.

To find the silver lining, reflect and realize the following truths:

  • Work alone should not define us
  • Experience is the only way to truly uncover likes/dislikes of a position
  • It is important to learn how to work with difficult people
  • We must pay attention to more than what is being said during the interview
  • Acknowledge that sometimes things are out of our control, but we do have the power to make them right (e.g. moving on to another job)

Prepare for the Future

When reflecting on what can be learned by living through a bad position, it is important to pinpoint lessons learned so you will never be put in the same position again.

Ask the following questions, so history will not repeat itself:

  • Did you accept the job too quickly?
  • Did your gut tell you the work culture was off?
  • Did you accept a position that leveraged your strengths/skill set(s)?
  • Did you ask for what you want?

There is value in every experience. Just ask a victim of violence or a tragedy. Although they did not ask/want the terrible thing to happen, they often pinpoint that moment as life-defining, making them who they are today. It may not seem like it now, but rest assured that workplace setbacks can provide valuable lessons over time. Really.

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