What to Do When You Hate Your Job

This illustration includes six positive tips on what to do when you don't like your job including "Keep your 'I hate my job' thoughts to yourself," "Know that it can happen to anyone," "Try to make the job work before considering quitting," "Start your job search," and "Resign gracefully, with two weeks' notice."

Emilie Dunphy © The Balance

Does this sound like how you feel?

  • "I hate my job."
  • "I hate my company."
  • "I hate my boss."

Many people hate something or other about their work. Most of us probably hear someone complain about their job or their boss nearly every day.

It's not just them—or you—who aren't happy at work. The Conference Board's Job Satisfaction 2020 survey showed overall job satisfaction at 56.3%. While a CNBC / SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey reported that while 73% of employees were happy at work, 27% were not.

Gallup reports that even though the number of employees who were "actively disengaged" and miserable at work was low at 14% in June 2020, the overall percentage of engaged workers who were attached to their job and company was only 36%.

But while hating your job is a pretty common human experience, that doesn’t make it any less difficult to handle. After all, you spend upwards of half your waking hours at work. If you can’t stand what you do, it’s hard to feel good about your life. 

What to Do When You Hate Your Job

What can you do if you hate your job, your company, your boss, your industry, or even everything about your working life? First things first: don’t broadcast your feelings.

Complaining about your job can backfire, whether you vent at the office, to colleagues while you’re out to lunch, or online on your off-hours.

Speaking badly about work compromises the level of professional integrity you convey, and might even lead to you getting the boot.

However, you don't have to stay in a place you simply feel is not a good fit:

  • If you have just started the job, there may be things you can do to salvage it.
  • You may be able to work with your employer to switch things up, so you're happier at work.
  • There are also steps you can take to move on if you hate your job, and you're not happy at work.

Too many people spend too much time in jobs or work environments they dislike or even actively hate. It's worth the effort it takes to explore other opportunities.

It’s in your best interest to try to find work that’s a better fit. You’ll be happier, sure, but you’re also likely to perform better at your job. That could lead to better opportunities later on, including promotions and raises.

Keep Your "I Hate My Job" Thoughts to Yourself

If you do hate your job, keep it to yourself and your family or close friends. Don't blast it out to the world on social media; the more you broadcast your distaste, the more likely it is that the wrong person will come across your complaints and share them with co-workers, supervisors, or even company executives.

But employees aren't the only ones using social networking sites; employers do, too. In a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers said they use social media to research potential employees.

You may be surprised to learn how easy it is for employers to see your social media, even if it’s relatively locked down.

Tweets, for example, can show up in Google search. And, if you aren't careful about your Facebook privacy settings, you're opening yourself up for the wrong person to stumble across your frustration there, as well.

It’s easy to avoid losing your job by not complaining about it. It makes more sense to strategically plan your exit from the company when the time is right.

Know It's Not Just You

Any of us can wind up stuck in a job we hate. It happens. The job might not be what you expected. Or, the job itself may be okay, but your boss or co-workers are awful. Perhaps you don't like the schedule or your customers, or something else about the work environment.

Reaching the point where you have acknowledged that you hate the job actually isn't a bad place to be. At least you know, and you can plot a course for your next steps.

Don't Just Quit

Don't just quit your job. The frustration of working at a place you can't stand can be hard to handle. But most of us can’t afford to resign in haste—not without another job waiting in the wings.

Begin by considering options for making the job work:

  • Are you sure you really need to quit, or could you just be going through a tough time?
  • Is there anything you could be doing differently to be happier at work?
  • Could you ask for a transfer or a shift change? Is there anything that would make a difference and convince you to stay?

Perhaps there's a way to turn things around so you at least like, if not love, your job. Consider the alternatives before you make a decision to leave. Finding a new job isn't always easy. If there's a fix, it's worth pursuing. If not, then it's time to move on.

Get Ready to Job Search

If there's no way you can stay, that's fine, too. Again, at least you know. Still, don't quit your job yet. It's easier to find a job when you have a job, and you probably won't be eligible for unemployment if you quit.

The better prepared you are before you actually start looking, the easier your job search will be.

Take the time to create or update your LinkedIn profile. Write a great LinkedIn profile summary that will get noticed by hiring managers. Update your resume. Get some references lined up. Build your network by connecting with everyone you know on LinkedIn and the other top networking sites.

Start Your Job Hunt (Carefully)

Start a job search, quietly and discreetly. Don't broadcast the fact that you're job searching for the same reasons you're keeping quiet about hating your job. You don't want your boss or someone else to know that you're planning to leave until you're ready to share the news.

Job search engines are the perfect platform to see what jobs are available for candidates with your background. Spend some time perusing a few, then test the waters. Start applying for jobs and talking privately (via email, Facebook, LinkedIn messaging, etc.) with your contacts about your intentions to make a move to a new job.

Still unsure how to proceed? A few helpful pointers may be all you need to get your job search started and to keep it on track. Do keep in mind that it might take a while to find a new position, so be prepared for the long haul.

Be Careful About What You Say and To Whom

When you think you've finally found that new plum position and you've been asked to interview, you'll probably want to shout it from the rooftops. Even if you do share your good fortune, don’t broadcast the fact that you hated your last job. Companies check references. They ask about previous employers in interviews, and what you say matters.

Recruiters and prospective employers look for people who are going to build up their businesses and reputations, not tear them down. Talking trash about a former employer during a job interview says more about you than the company. What's more, you never know who your interviewer might know.

Resign With Class

Resign gracefully, giving two weeks' notice. Offer to provide assistance during the transition and leave the company behind with no hard feelings.

Aside from costing you opportunities, a scorched-Earth approach to separation isn't worth your time. You're better served by focusing your energy and perspective on your new job and improving your experience this time around.

Article Sources

  1. The Conference Board. "Job Satisfaction 2020." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

  2. CNBC. "CNBC and SurveyMonkey Release Latest Workforce Survey." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

  3. Gallup. "Historic Drop in Employee Engagement Follows Record Rise." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

  4. CBSNews. "Why So Many Americans Hate Their Jobs," Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

  5. CareerBuilder.com. "More Than Half of Employers Have Found Content on Social Media That Caused Them NOT to Hire a Candidate," Accessed Nov. 6, 2019