There may seem only two good reasons for hanging on in a job that has become as appealing as shoveling excrement in torrential rain: i) you need the money and ii) there are no other jobs on offer.
However, if you’re feeling trapped in a job you dislike simply because it pays the bills and there don’t seem any real alternatives, then you can buoy yourself up with this thought: there are some excellent reasons to hang on in a job, and they have nothing to do with being trapped there. Regardless of unpleasantness. careers specialists said you should stick in a job when...
Karin Peeters, a life and executive coach in London, said it’s foolish to leave a job on at a low point. “You want to get to a place where you can leave with your head held high,” she said. “Don’t leave a job at a point of defeat and despair – if you do, then in years to come you may still feel anger and resentment because you were forced out. You need to look back and think that made the choice to leave when it was right for you.”
Don’t leave a hated job if leaving a hated job is something you've done a few times already. “You can get stuck in a habitual pattern,” warned Peeters. “You may find that you always end up in a job with a manager you don’t get along with, or that you always feel envious towards colleagues, or that you always leave because you don’t feel up to the task.
“Instead of perpetually moving jobs, you need to resolve your underlying issues,” she said. “Otherwise, it will be like packing your suitcase and taking all your bad habits with you to the new role.”
Angela Duckworth, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has researched non-cognitive predictors of success and has come up with the concept of 'grit' as an additional determinant of achievement.
Duckworth defines grit as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.’
“Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina,” said Duckworth in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”
In other words, gritty individuals won’t leave a job just because it’s become unpleasant.
Blaire Palmer, chief executive of leadership consultancy That People Thing, said it’s worth holding on in an unedifying job if you think you’re able to change it. “Do you have a mission to alter the product, or the solutions you’re working on?” she said. “If you think you can bring about change, it’s worthwhile staying.”
The disliked job may simply seem unpleasant simply because it’s testing you, said Palmer. “Maybe you’re unhappy because you’re learning too much?” she said. “Learning can be a painful experience. Sometimes you learn a lot in a short amount of time – how not to manage, how not to run an organization, how not to run a meeting, You can take this with you to your next assignment.”
In normal circumstances, Linda Jackson, a director at careers consultancy 10Eighty, said it makes sense to get out of jobs you hate: “Life’s too short.”
Sometimes, however, Jackson said it makes sense to stick around. “Only stay if you can plan a career strategy which will take you to a different place and you can see that by staying on in this role you can gain some additional skills,” she advised.
Most people who leave jobs do so because they don’t get on with their boss. However, if you and your boss have an affinity, it could be the foundation for something less horrible and more exciting, said Jackson. “If you have a great manager, but you find the job itself a bit boring, then think about what extra value you might be able to bring to the organization and discuss that with your boss,” she suggested.
“Employees often stay on in jobs they dislike because they feel a real sense of loyalty to the boss who recruited them,” said Lorenza Clifford, director of executive coaching firm Coachange. There’s nothing wrong with this sense of loyalty - but use your close relationship with your boss to make your role more palatable.
Finally, however genuinely unbearable your job is, it's unwise to quit too soon if - for reasons inside or outside your control - your résumé suggests you're not a sticker. "If you've jumped jobs every 18 months and you move into a job you don't like, you'll really need to suck it up for a while until your CV can demonstrate some solidity," said Jackson.
On the other hand, if the rest of your CV shows commitment and you have solid experience in past jobs, Jackson said you can move out an unbearable role whenever you like.
Ultimately there are no rules, said Jackson: "It all depends upon your level of distaste for the job. At the end of the day you need to weigh up how unhappy it's going to make you. If a job is so stressful that it will damage your health, get out as soon as you can - nothing is worth that."