Between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays, I often will speak to a number of young professionals who express a lack of satisfaction with their jobs. The reasons are numerous and varied, but the underlying causes often stem from:
- Routine – the honeymoon is wearing off and one is settling into routines at work. For a generation that thrives on multi-tasking and high levels of stimulation, work routines can drag on one’s energy level.
- Dec. 26th – for the most part, recent grads are used to having a multi-week vacation in late December/early January when school closes. Now, many are expected to show up to work on Dec. 26th – rude welcome to the working world.
- Finals – I don’t think anyone would say they want to be forced to take finals again, however one benefit of a final is the closure they provide to a class/project. Not have a sense of closure on one’s work, or the not having closure after a 3-4 month effort, is a new challenge for recent grads.
In the past, January meant new beginnings for students – new courses, new content, new schedules, new routines – this January is met with the same projects, same clients, same schedules. When one is used to having the slate wiped clean and starting fresh in every 3-4 months, coming back to work after the holidays to the same old projects, tasks, clients, etc. can be motivation killer.
Disliking one’s job is not healthy and while not every day is going be roses and sunshine at work, one should feel an overall sense of satisfaction from one’s career. Whatever the reason for the lack of enthusiasm for one’s job, individuals have to be proactive in correcting the situation. Accepting the malaise will only lead to larger problems, so consider the following tactics:
- Talk with your supervisor: If you have been performing at a high level on your current projects, ask your supervisor if there are new projects that you could take or new level of involvement (ex: attending the client meetings). While the new challenges may not happen right away, you are planting a seed of an idea with your boss. It should be noted that one should have mastered his/her current position and have a record of success before asking for greater responsibilities.
- Seek out areas of growth: You’ve been in your position for 18 months, have been rated a top-performer at performance reviews, know how to do your job well and feel like you have hit a ceiling – it is time to seek out areas where you feel you could develop professionally. Is there a class your employer would pay for so you can learn a new technology or grow in your management skills? Can you volunteer to help on a project outside your department in order to impress others and/or learn about other departments within the company?
- Look outside: Take a look to see if there are better career opportunities with other companies. If there are better career paths out there, you may need to move into job search mode. However, you may find that the grass is not greener somewhere else and in this case you may come to appreciate your current career even more.
Be pro-active in your career management because no one else will look out for your best interests!