Here’s a tough situation that sounds familiar:
 
You hate going to work and hate your job, but for one reason or another, you can’t quit.

The worst part?

Your job is a huge part of your life. And when it’s not right, it can feel like it’s ruining your life.
 
There’s no sugarcoating it.

And as if that’s not enough, I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of advice on what to do when your job sucks.

And I’m also sure that most of that advice has told you the same thing over and over again:
 
Just quit.
 
It’s well-meaning advice, and I won’t try to argue with it. But, the bottom line is that we don’t all have the luxury of packing up our stuff up and waving goodbye whenever the going gets tough.
 
…and so that advice leaves you thinking, “What can I do in the meantime?”
 
So let’s dive into some things that will make your situation a little easier. 

Step 1: Know You’re Not Alone

woman stressed at work

You’re not the only one in the “I hate my job” club.
 
52% of people say they aren’t happy with their career choice. And actually, here are some popular career-related Google searches:
 
Does anyone like their job?
 
Employees who hate their jobs
 
How do I stop hating my job?
 
With popular searches like that, you should know that you’re not the only one feeling this way.
 
And as cheesy as it sounds, the job you hate is usually a stepping stone for something better. So if there’s one thing a bad job will teach you, it’s to appreciate a good one when you have it.
 

Step 2: Take Stock of Where You Are

man typing on laptop

It’s important for you to know what actually makes you unhappy about your job. Don’t just talk about how terrible you feel or how much you hate going to work.
 
Ask yourself this:
 
Is it my employer or my position? Is it the company culture or coworkers?
 
Is it the pay or the working conditions?
 
Knowing what you don’t want is the first step in getting what you do want.
 
We tend to get so wrapped up in how much the job sucks, that we neglect to get down to the root of the problem. These things can be fixed with the right plan.
 

Step 3: Make Your Plan

woman writing in notebook

I get asked all the time:
 
What should I do before leaving a job?
 
The short answer is this: 
 
Position yourself to be in the best possible financial position you can be. Why? Because most people are unhappy at work but need the money. You probably do too.
 
So here’s what you do:
 
1. Start with a budget
 
You need to know exactly how much you have coming in and going out each month.
 
Your budget is your best financial tool. It will help you find leaks in your spending and put together a plan to pay off debt. As John Maxwell says: “A budget is you telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

 
2. Identify the Leaks in Your Budget
 
Little by little, small expenses add up. And those small expenses are destroying your monthly budget.
 
So think about these things:
 

  • Cancel unused gym memberships.
     
  • Get rid of those “free” trials that you forgot to cancel.
     
  • Cancel unnecessary subscription box services.
     
  • Cut the cable and switch to Amazon Instant Video instead.
     
  • Trade your car in for something more affordable.
     
  • Start meal planning to save money. 
     
  • Skip the yearly vacation.
     

You hate going to work, so make the sacrifices necessary to set yourself free.
 
3. Save Up $1,000 For Your Emergency Fund

The general rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months worth of expenses saved up in your emergency fund.
 
But if you have debt, you want to save $1,000 for emergencies first, then focus on your debt payoff plan.
 
Because here’s the deal:
 
47% of Americans don’t even have enough money saved to cover a $400 emergency. And if you don’t have at least a little cushion to back you up, then that $400 emergency leaves you with two options:
 
1. Go into more debt to cover it
 
2. Borrow the money from friends/family
 
And both of those options suck. So let’s try to avoid them.
 

Step 4: Choose Your Words Wisely

two business women talking

When you hate your job, it can be easy to fall into office politics and gossip.
 
And while you may think you’re just talking when you and Amy both agree that you’re “looking for something else” – it can cause major problems down the road.
 
For example, it becomes an issue when Amy mentions to Tom:
 
Everybody’s wanting to leave. Even Sarah’s looking for something new.
 
…and the boss ends up hearing, “So when’s Sarah leaving?”
 
What was meant as casual conversation, then leads to a big mess. So be careful about talking to others about disliking the job.
 
Companies love references. You don’t want to upset your boss because you’ve told everyone else you’re quitting except him.

Step 5: Start Your (Secret) Job Search

man typing on laptop

Start by cleaning up your social media profiles so you can put your best foot forward.
 
You never know who you might’ve added to your friend’s list that could be a big influence at your next job.
 
Put some (or all) of your social media profiles on private too. Not everyone needs to see what you’re doing on Instagram.

Also, don’t forget about this:
 
When you hate going to work and you’re searching for a new job, LinkedIn is one of your best resources.
 
Studies show that 80% of recruiters use the internet to vet potential employees. So unless you have your own website, your LinkedIn profile is going to be one of the top search results for your name.
 
So spend some time making sure you’ve completed your profile. Connect with people you know and others you don’t, so that you can expand your online presence.
 
Find people in your field (or the field you’d like to be in) and see what skills and experience they have for their job.
 

Step 6: Make Sure Your Resume is Actually Seen

resume sitting on desk

Have you ever submitted an application and immediately gotten a generic rejection email that said:
 
Dear Candidate,
 
Thank you for taking the time to apply for XYZ. At this time, we are declining to move forward with your application.
 
What gives?
 
These days, companies rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to pre-filter resumes.
 
The ATS works by scanning resumes for keywords then giving your resume a “grade” of how relevant it is to the job.
 
To give you a little perspective, I once worked at a job where I was the head supervisor.
 
One day I was curious, so I went back to when I had applied to see how the ATS scored me. I got a score of 83 out of 100. This meant the supervisor (me) only made an 83 out of 100.
 
I tell you that story to let you know that the ATS isn’t perfect. Its job is to scan your resume for keywords.
 
And if you don’t score “high” enough –  whether you’re actually qualified or not – then your resume will get automatically rejected without being seen by the HR manager.
 
So I recommend checking out our article: How to Get Your Resume Past the ATS.
 

Step 7: Learn What You Can

women reading a book outside

I once heard someone say:
 
“A smart person thinks about the skills they need for the NEXT job.”
 
This applies to everyone, not just people who hate going to work because they can’t stand their job.
 
Think about it.

What are your strengths? What areas could you improve in? Even terrible jobs have a way of building your knowledge, experience, and skillset.
 
So make sure you’re taking what you can from it.
 

  • Sign up for Audible and use your morning and afternoon commutes to listen to books that will help expand your knowledge.
     
  • Seek out short-term professional development courses.
     
  • Say yes to new tasks and work responsibilities. 
     
  • Set yourself up for success.
     

Step 8: Grow Your Network

man sitting at work desk on cellphone

Strong personal networks don’t happen at the watercooler. 
 
The smartest thing you can do when you hate your job is to quietly build your professional network. So commit to spending 15 minutes each day on typical job-searching activities.
 
Here’s what I mean:
 

  • Reach out to your connections on LinkedIn to ask about their work
     
  • Search for local job fairs
     
  • Register for professional conferences 
     
  • Mention to an acquaintance that you’re looking for something new. Tell them if they have any recommendations to let you know.
     

It’ll be a small part of your day, but you’ll be surprised how fast it can help connect you with the right people. 
 
And that job opportunity might come from someone closer than you think.
 
I recently discovered a job was secretly hiring (meaning they wanted someone but they weren’t advertising it yet) so I mentioned it to my friend. She applied, went through the process, and now she has a new job that wasn’t even on her radar 6 weeks ago.
 

Step 9: Don’t Check Out on Your Current Job

woman stressed at work

Unless you’re really good at fakin’ it till you make it, this step can be really hard. Especially when leaving work every day feels like you’ve just been let out of jail. 
 
So when you hate going to work, the last thing you want to do is show up and pretend everything’s just peachy.
 
Because it isn’t.
 
Here’s the deal:
 
When you’re ready to leave, it’s natural to start slacking off in certain areas.
 
You might become disengaged. Like texting under the table at a meeting.
 
Or showing up late. Because I’m sure nobody checks the time punch anyway.
 
Or be a little stand-offish with the customers. Because, well, it’s just not a good day.
 
But I want to caution you against coming up with excuses for not doing your best. Because if you’re failing to meet requirements, then you could be giving your boss a good reason to fire you.
 
I know you want to leave, but you don’t want to be pushed out the door before you’re ready.
 
And if losing your job tomorrow could leave you in a financial crisis or jeopardize your future career, then you have to tread lightly. Keep your patience. You will find something better. 
 

Step 10: Try to Find Pleasure Outside of Your Job

business man smiling

Here’s the deal:
 
A stressful job will impact your work life and personal life.
 
And before you know it, you’ve let that job take every little bit of fun out of your life.
 
When you’re at home, you’re worried about work. Sunday night rolls around and you’re dreading starting the work week all over again.
 
When you’re with your friends and family, you can’t help but think about what happened at work that day. You start losing motivation to make plans, create memories, and invest in yourself.
 
Again, you’re not alone.
 
At my former job, I was under a lot of stress. I was the boss and I hated my job.
 
(Yes, even bosses hate going to work sometimes)
 
When I was away from work – it was all I thought about. But even though I thought about work all the time, I forced myself to enjoy time with my family and friends.
 
I started creating positive habits in my life (like reading, working out, and eating better)
 
And even though I was still stressed about the job I had – at least I wasn’t declining. I was getting better, investing in myself, and not letting a job take everything from me. 
 
Make sure you’re doing the same.
 

Step 11: Give Yourself Time

woman looking out over mountains

Having a job you dislike is draining, but don’t let it suck you dry.
 
Be your own biggest cheerleader. Take care of yourself. Get sleep. Make time for the things you enjoy. And lastly, don’t underestimate the power of persistence. You will find something better. 
 

Final Thoughts:

business man stressed looking out window

Why is it so hard to quit, and even harder to stay?
 
We’ve all had to stay at a job longer than we wanted. It’s usually because of these things:
 
1. Money
 
Yep, bills, debt, and the cost of living can put the fear of God in us all.
 
I hear it all the time:
 
I want to quit my job but I need money.
 
When there’s a lull in the job market or you realize you might have to take a pay cut elsewhere – it can leave you feeling trapped.
 
2. Feeling like all jobs are the same
 
Anyone who’s ever disliked their job has felt this way.
 
It leaves you questioning:
 
What if every job is like this?
 
or
 
I wonder if every boss acts this way?
 
It’s a normal feeling, especially when you’ve been burned in the past. Plus, you’re probably no stranger to hearing your friends and family complain about their jobs, too.
 
So the thought of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire isn’t exactly motivation enough to leave.
 
3. Fear of starting over
 
Your comfort zone is where your dreams go to die.
 
Applying for new jobs is scary.
 
Interviewing is scary.
 
The first day is scary.
 
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about successful people, it’s that they don’t avoid the “scary” thing.
 
When they hate going to work, they do something about it. It doesn’t mean they’re immune to stress, failure, or disappointments. It just means they take the next step to better their situation.
 
4. Feeling like a crappy job is okay
 
You hate your job, so what?
 
It’s life. Millions of other people hate their jobs too.
 
Besides, it pays the bills and helps support you and your family, so it’s worth the sacrifice, right?
 
While I admire the perseverance, I think that level of perseverance would take you much farther at a job you actually enjoy. So don’t let any of these excuses hold you back.
 
Start your plan and work your plan. What are you waiting for?

Thanks for reading.

Jamie Cohen is a Career Coach and HR Manager for EndThrive. After graduating with a B.A. in Human Resources Management, Jamie obtained his MBA from the University of Georgia. He became the lead HR Researcher & Engagement Manager for Operations, Inc. before branching out on his own as a career coach. Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn.

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2 thoughts on “What To Do When You Hate Your Job But Can’t Quit”

  1. Thanks for this, Jamie. I really need it right now. Great content.

    • You’re welcome, Maria. I hope it gives you the strength to take the next step in your career. Good luck!

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