Today I'm discussing how to get out of a job you hate — even if it pays well — and into one that better fits your interests and skills.
When I graduated as an English major with a liberal-arts B.A., I couldn't find any adequately paying jobs. I settled for a secretarial job in an environmental organization. Because I wanted to get ahead, I took science classes in the evenings and worked my way up into a program coordinator job two years later.
I've lasted in this job for a year, and I absolutely hate it. Science bores me, but I'm making a fairly healthy salary. I don't feel I have any options.
Answer: You always have options. Like many, you fell into a job and then made the best of it. You now have a great reason for career planning. Career planning makes sense whenever your life changes, your work bores you or you need more money and greater benefits than you can achieve on your current career track.
You’re right that when you first graduated from college, a B.A. in English didn't provide you with your pick of high-paying jobs. That doesn't mean you can't find or work your way into one now. You are no longer someone who just graduated from college. Now you're an individual with a three-year track record who's already received a merit promotion.
Here's how to start — make a list of what motivates you at work. Is it money and benefits, teamwork, challenge, the chance to learn or achieve, advancement opportunities, interesting work, bringing projects from start to finish, helping your community or interacting with others at work? You may say all of the above. You can also add to the list.
Rank in order all of these motivators. Which are your top three to five? You’ll use them as a yardstick against which to measure the job opportunities you find.
Career planning includes assessing yourself so you can land that better job. Ask yourself what skills you have demonstrated or developed in your current job. You're likely good with people, or your current employer wouldn't have promoted you. Are you organized, a clear and concise writer or a fast learner? Make a list of all of your skills, and add them to the list of qualities you bring to an employer. Clearly, you're someone who sticks to a job, even one that doesn't interest you, and has the willingness to study to further yourself. Be your own cheerleader, and make a long list.
Package what you’ve created into a functional résumé. While chronological résumés work well for individuals who continue on a linear career path, functional ones work better for those looking to jump from one field to another. If this is a new term for you, you can Google "functional résumés" and find several good templates.
Next, what interests you? Do you like reading, people, organizing, creating systems, being creative? Again, make your list as long as possible and then start cruising the ads on Craigslist, Indeed and other sites that advertise for employees. Look at jobs you now fit and ones you can stretch into. Remember, you have a year as a "program coordinator" under your belt and skills and qualities that employers will want.
Explore the options available to you — they're there.
Have a career question? Email Curry at email@example.com with the subject “SheKnows,” and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.
© 2016, Lynne Curry. Curry is the author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM). You can also follow her on Twitter @lynnecurry10 or access her other posts on SheKnows, www.workplacecoachblog.com or www.bullywhisperer.com.
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