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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

What to do when you hate your job

16 min read
What to Do When You Hate Your Job
Artwork by:Evgeniya Skubina
When you hate your job, you might consider that it is time for a change, but is there anything else that you can do? Is it possible to escape this feeling of dread every morning?

People have different motivations to turn up and do a day’s work, but when our job starts to drag everything else down, any motivation disappears under a dark cloud. When we start to feel that we hate our jobs, our path ahead is far from clear.

“I hate my job.” What do you do when this feeling comes along? Taking a deep breath helps. Then you may wish to consider the next four questions:

  • I hate my job, but what is causing it?
  • What can you do when you realize that you can't take it anymore?
  • Should you tell your boss that you hate your job?
  • How do you leave your job in the most graceful way possible?

Hating your job can destabilize emotions and impair judgement, but the next steps need to be taken with thoughtful and dispassionate consideration.

Expert tip

 I hate my job. Are you sure? It is entirely possible (even normal!) to feel the deepest hate and resentment for a job that causes intense emotional distress. If it is really that bad, then you owe it to yourself to take steps towards a brighter future. Change always offers new possibilities.

What Is Causing You to Hate Your Job?

When you understand why you might hate your time at work, you at least have a chance of doing something about it. Self-reflection is a vital life skill, so taking enough time to weigh up your feelings is vital to make the right career decision.

If you are asking yourself: “why do I hate my job so much?” It is worth first considering the reasons before you act on the feeling as they can inform your next moves. Look within yourself as well as what is going on around you before you leap.

Is it time for a career change? What to do if it is
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Is it time for a career change? What to do if it is

If you’re tired, bored or unfulfilled at work, it might be time for a career change. This post will help you decide if time’s up on your current job and how to make a positive career change.

Here are five reasons why you might hate your office job and what to do about it:

You are not developing

When career development stalls, it is easy to get stuck in a rut. When you are not learning, you have the time and mental energy to notice all the less-than-ideal aspects of the job. Suddenly, you focus on the negatives of what is going on around you rather than the positives of your own journey. You gravitate towards others who are unhappy with their development and a vicious circle of self-pity begins.

What to do: Try to find the energy to find a new direction for your development. Self-study can bring fresh ideas and seeking a mentor at work is a two-way relationship that can often bring benefits for both parties.

Expert tip

Unsure if you are at the right place? There are many career aptitude tests that can help you find your top skills and get you back on the right career track.

Everything feels toxic

Everything about your job feels like it isn’t good for you. Everyone around you is stressed, there are impossible deadlines, your colleagues are off sick all the time and your management team really couldn’t care less. We all know toxic company cultures that are like this, so the question for a potential future employer would be “why did you stay?”

What to do: Leave. As soon as you can. Be brave and take the leap.

Your mental health is suffering

Whether you simply aren’t able to process emotions adequately because of burnout or whether there is a deeper mental malaise that has been caused by the constant knocks of a difficult workplace, when your mental health starts to suffer it can be a slippery slope. Although mental illnesses such as depression are increasingly understood, it doesn’t make them any less easy to live with.

What to do: If you feel that your job is affecting your mental health, consider seeking some therapy before making the decision to leave. A different perspective can often make all the difference, but you will likely need professional help to get there.

Expert tip

I hate my office job. What do you dislike about working at your company?

If you find yourself hating a corporate role, you’re not alone. More than 3.9 million Americans left their positions in April 2021, and many of those were office jobs. Whatever your reasons for first taking an office job, you may have recently discovered that it’s not the right fit for you. Check out our remote working guide if you feel like it's time to take the plunge.

The leadership / culture feels wrong

This is one external signal that is often not within an employee’s power to influence. Leadership teams and company culture can change over time for all sorts of reasons, so if you no longer feel that there is an alignment with how things are done at work, it is all too easy to feel that you hate your job.

What to do: It depends how many other options there are with drastically different cultures within your field or industry. You just might have to put up with this one.

You are struggling to perform

Sometimes you come to hate your job because you simply aren’t that great at it. When you aren’t performing (for whatever reason), those around you won’t be so happy to have you around and an unpleasant atmosphere soon follows. Don’t be scared to ask others for help and continue to try your best - not everything that you do will turn out badly. Live by the mantra of learning from your mistakes.

What to do: Either do something about it and improve or be honest with yourself and change jobs / companies. If you are struggling to perform, just doing the same job in a different company likely won’t help. You often have to change yourself first.

Expert tip

One way to press the reset button on your mental health: Spend your downtime doing things that you love. If you hate your work, you might come home and want to slump in front of Netflix, but actually it would be best for you to find a hobby or activity that you truly love to do. Banishing negativity with positive thoughts (and beneficial hormones) is a great way to flip the switch on your mental health. Replace "I hate my new job" with "I love going out into the fields with my metal detector."

What to Do When You Hate Your Job?

“I hate my new job, I really do. You can’t persuade me otherwise. But what can I do?”

Don’t moan at work if you are unhappy

If you are not enjoying your job, the likelihood is that others around you may be feeling the same thing. Hating your job is contagious; but try to refrain from sharing your feelings about it, hard as that may be. 

If you moan to those around you and they moan back, it can offer validation and your feelings of hate can become stronger. Sure, talk things through with people from outside your work environment, but ask them to be objective and balanced in their responses.

Analyze the reasons and think what you want to change

As per the thoughts in the chapter above, getting to the bottom of why you hate your job lies at the heart of taking the next step. If you can’t quite put your finger on the reasons for your unhappiness, then you risk the same horror story in your next role.

These feelings of workplace hate are often complicated, so think about the things that you can influence and try to avoid the things that you cannot influence.

Expert tip

I hate my new job.

Hating a new job is one of those tricky situations where you may have to wait a bit to find out the real cause of your emotions. Maybe you miss the great collaborative space of your old position or the freedom that came with your previous life as a freelancer. Take some time to seriously evaluate why you hate your new job and what you can do to improve the situation before simply jumping ship. After a while, you might not hate everything.

Be decisive when the time is right

Festering in a pool of hate and resentment is not a recipe for a happy existence, but when you get to the moment of change you can often persuade yourself that things aren’t that bad after all. The salary comes in every month, right?

It is all too easy to succumb to such feelings, but if you understand in your heart that you should start looking for another job, don’t hesitate and be decisive. There is no time like the present and as long as you conduct a thoughtful and patient job search, you will definitely find something better.

Expert tip

What to do when you hate your job and can’t leave? 

If you are contractually obliged to remain in a role, then there is often little choice. If you are in this sort of position, you will likely be aware of the situation and not allow yourself to get to the point of hating your job. Even small positive changes can make a difference. When running away isn't an option, stay resilient and make the most of the enjoyable moments.

Consider sharing with your boss in writing

When you do not enjoy something about your role, you should consider sharing the fact with your boss. They are there to help you to develop and it may be that they are entirely unaware of your feelings.

Rather than spring a conversation on them out of the blue, maybe drop them a quick message to let them know that you are not enjoying a certain aspect of the work and ask if they are open to have a meeting to discuss this specific thing. A brief written note stops an unexpected conversation from getting emotional and it will give them time to think the situation through before responding to you. Some bosses may take this personally (why don't you love everything about your job?), so allow them some space to get over themselves.

Example

Dear Caroline,

I write to mention that I am finding the auditing process particularly time-consuming every month. 

I am losing sleep over the rigorous demands and I feel that it is negatively impacting my mental health. The worries are starting to affect my other work.

Would we be able to sit down and discuss, as I have a few ideas in terms of streamlining the process. I don't think that I am alone in these thoughts, so any improvements that we come up with may be beneficial to others.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards, Sally

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How to Leave Your Job Gracefully

Don’t let your hate get in the way of leaving the job in the right way, at the right time and on your terms. If you make the decision to leave, you are in charge.

Don’t leave before you are ready

“I hate my job” is one of the rawest emotions that you can feel, and once you have internalised it, it is all too tempting to act upon it. In this sort of impatient mindset, you can jump out of the frying pan and into the fire of an equally unsuitable new role. 

Just because someone wants to hire you doesn’t mean that you should accept. Just because you have been unhappy for three years doesn’t mean that you can’t put up with it for another three months. Take your time and make the best decision.

Expert tip

Try to leave on good terms and don't burn any bridges. You never know when you relationships may come in useful in the future. That way you can always ask for a letter of recommendation.

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Manage your job search carefully

Keeping things as quiet as possible until you absolutely have to inform people that you are leaving is crucial to a smooth exit. 

Try not to take too much time off for interviews – evenings are often acceptable, especially for Zoom calls . If you do have to slip out for phone conversation with recruiters, do it during lunchtime and make sure you talk where you are not likely to be overheard. Gossip travels fast, so don’t make yourself the topic of conversation.

When you do need to resign, do it gracefully and without sharing any of the reasons why you are leaving. It might seem tempting, but this really isn’t sensible.

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Keep working hard until the last day

There is a tremendous temptation to press the brakes the moment that you have secured a new job – especially if you feel that your workplace has brought you nothing but grief in the past.

Resist the thought of coasting to your last day and keep up the work ethic. You never know who might join your new employer in the future and you never know who knows who. Keep your nose clean and let the thought of a lovely new employer sustain you through those few final weeks of your notice period

Expert tip

Don’t blame yourself. Yes, you may hate your job, but don’t be overly hard on yourself. It is unlikely to be your fault, so don’t blame yourself. Feelings of self-loathing are common when people are unhappy at work, and it sometimes feels soothing to wallow in self-pity; but stay positive. Better days are on the way.

Key Takeaways

It won't take long to understand that you hate your job, but getting to the bottom of the reasons and working out what you can do about them will require a lot more thought.

Leaving a job that you hate is always a tempting option, but you never know what your next job might bring. Work to change things - either external situations or within yourself. Such changes often have unexpected effects on other areas and you might see that you hate softens and becomes a little more bearable.

We all need to work to earn a living, and we spend a long time doing it. Hating your job is often a temporary feeling - I hope that you can find the courage and personal insight to do something about it. Leaving should only be the choice when you have tried everything else.

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