Careers advice

What to do if you hate your job

It’s time to take control.

What you’ll learn:

  • What to do when you hate your job 
  • Things to try before you quit your job 
  • How to quit your job gracefully

“I hate my job, I need to get out of here.” At some point in our careers, it’s likely we’ve all had a similar thought. When it comes to jobs, it’s likely you’ll have to kiss a few frogs before you find your Prince Charming.

But what do you do when you’re there, in the moment, hating your role? Well, you have a few options, so we’re going to go through them here. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer idea of the actions you need to take to get things moving in the right direction.

What to do when you hate your job

1. Don’t act on impulse

When you’re really hating your day-to-day, it can be easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and say or do something you later regret. This is especially true if you’re working in a high pressure environment, or if you have a colleague or boss who’s treating you unfairly. 

We know it’s easier said than done, but try to stay calm, and don’t vent in public. We all know that workplaces are small worlds – and word will soon get around if you’re bad mouthing your employer or sounding off about what you’re not enjoying. 

Getting your feelings off your chest is important, but do it with your friends and family outside of the workplace. 

Importantly, don’t get angry with yourself for feeling how you feel. Many people go through these phases, and it’s crucial to explore why.

It's important not to vent your thoughts in front of colleagues, and definitely not in front of your manager.

2. Work out what you hate

Knowing that you’re not happy with your job is easy, working out why is something entirely different. 

This is the most important step, because the reason behind your feelings will determine what actions you need to take.

For example, if you’re hating work because you feel underappreciated, it could be as simple as a conversation with your manager about pay or other forms of compensation that fixes the problem. If, however, it’s something more complicated, like feeling that you’re no longer interested in the field you work in, then a change of scene might be the solution.

3. Start to make a plan

The name of the game here is subtlety. Whether you’re thinking you need to change jobs, or if you’re planning a tough conversation with your manager about why you’re unhappy, it’s vital to have time to plan your moves before acting. 

If you’re veering towards leaving your current company, you’ll need to think about updating your CV and Trade Me Jobs Profile, practicing your interview skills and searching for jobs in your desired area. 

Even if changing jobs is the route you ultimately end up taking, don’t just make up your mind and quit. It might take longer than you’d expected to find something new, and even if you hate the job you’re doing, at least it’s paying the bills in the meantime.

If you think you need to move on, subtly stategise your next move.

Things to try before you quit your job

It might be that your mind is already made up, and you know that the only positive step you can take now is to quit your job and move on. This is a totally legitimate decision, and you might want to skip this section and move on to our advice on how to quit your job gracefully. 

However, if you think that you could make the current role work for you, if certain things change, you might want to try some or all of the following before you decide to quit:

  • Talk to your boss: if you think something like a change to your hours, or more opportunity to work from home could improve your situation, a discussion with your boss is the best way to move this agenda forward. You need to keep this talk professional, and not vent about your feelings towards the organisation or make threats that you’ll quit if you don’t get what you want. 
  • Look at your work-life balance: do you hate your current job because it’s taking over your whole life? If this is the case, redressing your work-life balance could be a good place to start. This might involve setting boundaries with yourself, that you’ll always leave the office by a certain time, or that you won’t answer emails outside of work hours, among other steps. 
  • Change your routine: it could also be the case that your current dislike of your work is due to boredom with the same routine. Try switching things up by meeting friends on your lunch break, going to the park to sunbathe or get some exercise. 
  • Look for more opportunities: this is another good boredom buster. If your daily tasks are always pretty similar, it might be that you’re craving a challenge to remind yourself why you took the job in the first place. Again, your manager could be a good place to start in looking for more opportunities to grow and develop your skills.

How to quit a job you hate gracefully

If, after thorough reflection, you’ve decided that leaving your job is your best move, you need to go about it the right way. It doesn’t matter if you hate the company, the boss or everyone in the room, it’s still best to leave with your head held high, and with the best possible relationships with the people who will remain at the organisation. 

You never know when these contacts will come in handy and, in the short term, you’re likely to need a reference for your next job application. Here’s how to quit a job the right way:

1. Check your employment agreement

This will have details of how much notice you need to give before leaving your job. In New Zealand, the normal notice period is four weeks, but this can vary, so make sure.

2. Arrange an in person meeting with your manager

You’ll need to give written confirmation that you intend to leave, but it’s courteous to talk to your manager in person first, rather than send an email out of the blue.

In this conversation:

  • Be positive and polite: don’t say anything negative about the company, or anyone involved with it. If they ask you why you’re leaving, talk positively about where you’re going, rather than going on about what’s wrong where you are currently.
  • Be brief: while you need to be polite, you don’t need to apologise or make excuses for yourself. It’s your choice to do what you want with your career.
  • Be helpful: a good way to score a positive reference is to tie up loose ends and offer to help your team recruit your replacement.

3. Don’t gossip about leaving

It can be tempting, particularly if you’re really looking forward to getting out of a job, to start telling people you’re going to leave, or that you’re searching for roles. 

It’s advisable not to do this prior to telling your manager and handing in your notice. If the word feeds back to them from someone else, they could feel undermined and think you haven’t dealt with the situation professionally. 

While it’s okay to break the news to other staff members after you’ve handed your notice in, do this in a neutral way. Don’t tell them how excited you are to be leaving, or how much better your new role looks.

4. Hand in your written notice

Once this conversation is complete, send your manager an email with your written notice of resignation. Let them know when your final day in the office will be, and thank them again for your time with the company (even if you don’t mean it!)

5. Be constructive in your exit interview

Not all companies conduct exit interviews when members of staff leave, but, if yours does, remember to keep your criticisms constructive. 

By all means, if you think the organisation could do more to, for example, provide career and personal development opportunities, say this. But don’t use this as an opportunity to vent or make personal comments before leaving.