Don't Fall Into the Trap
Sometimes we get very specific about problems and pitfalls on this site. Resume mistakes, potential errors on cover letters, individual ways you can network more effectively.
But sometimes it’s good to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Many people say they’re unhappy at work, but fewer really take a deep and introspective look to figure out why. Look past your annoying boss and other issues on the surface, and figure out what you’re doing that might be negatively impacting you. That’s what we did, and we came up with a list of traps most people are falling into without even realizing it.
7. You Don't Know What You Want
If you don’t know what you want, it’s going to be hard to go out and get it.
Are you spending too much time at work? Are you not able to devote enough time to your job because of personal issues? Are you someone who wants to skyrocket up the career ladder with promotions every 6-12 months? Do you need a raise to feel validated or are you happy doing something lower paying that you love?
Whatever the case, you can’t achieve your goals until you’ve identified what you want. So many people are working without having an end goal in sight, so when you ask them what they want you can hear crickets. Figure it out and then work toward it.
6. You're Unhappy
Happiness is not overrated in the slightest.
Look, not every job is going to fuel your soul, help the planet, save orphans, or give you the warm and fuzzies. Nothing is perfect. But if you’re truly miserable in your job then you have to take steps to remedy the situation, because if you’re miserable then your job performance likely isn’t far behind.
Maybe you can switch jobs internally? It might be possible to relocate within the company or find another job. Perhaps you can work on an upcoming project to help get you out of your rut. Or try asking your boss to work from home so you can spend more time with your family.
Anyone who has ever worked a job in which they dread coming in to the office every day can appreciate how much better life got when they found something they liked. Whatever the problem is, there’s likely a few things you can do to better your situation. You just have to take action.
5. You're Not Working Toward Anything
Yes, you have a job and that’s great. But what’s next?
It’s not enough to know you want more, you need to have an idea of what “more” is. Do you want to be team leader? Do you want your boss’s job? Do you want to use the skills in your current job to jump ship somewhere else for more money? Or do you want to work toward a better work/life balance?
If you don’t identify what you’re working toward, you’re in a career limbo of sorts. Things always get a little easier with a plan, so make one.
4. You're Only Interested in Money
This is going to sound odd coming from Salary.com, but it’s not always about the money.
I mean yes, money is good. We all need it to live and getting paid what you’re worth is important. But sometimes people feel pressured to leave jobs they love because they don’t feel they can turn down the pay increase the new position brings. Or they take a job they know will destroy their work/life balance when they’re trying to raise a family, simply because it’s more lucrative.
Sometimes you just have to trust your gut instead of your wallet, and realize money isn’t the end all be all. Then refer to #6 about happiness.
3. Taking a Promotion Just Because It's Offered
I’ve seen this happen to a lot of people.
The good news is you’ve been offered a promotion. It comes with more prestige, a better title, and more money. However, it also means leaving the team you love, no longer doing the job you excel at, and managing people (which you’re not even sure you want to do). Your gut tells you to turn it down but then your head says “Are you crazy? No one ever turns down a promotion.”
So you take it. And you’re miserable. And your gut was right about not wanting to lead people, which means you’re not meeting your goals and your career is starting to suffer. Not to mention you’re unhappy everyday and wishing you could go back to doing what you loved and were good at.
Promotions can be great, we’re just advising people to think long and hard about what it’ll all mean.
2. You're Over/Undervaluing Yourself
Either way, it’s not a good situation.
If you’re constantly undervaluing yourself then you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. It means you’re probably not advocating for yourself or your ideas, and you’re less apt to put your name in the hat for advancement opportunities (assuming you want them).
On the flip side, if you’re overvaluing yourself then you might be hurting your professional reputation amongst colleagues and bosses, by talking about things you haven’t properly researched and for which you don’t have the background. If you’ve taken a job without having the necessary skills or you’re going for a promotion for which you’re unqualified, it’s going to hurt your career.
1. You're Afraid to Fail
Fear is an extraordinarily powerful emotion.
I’m not going to list the numerous celebrated historical figures who failed a whole bunch of times and then went on to greatness. You know those names and you’ve seen them a thousand times. But the point still stands – if you’re not willing to take a chance every once in a while, don’t be surprised when you don’t get what you want or meet all of your goals.
Get out of your comfort zone. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s still necessary. You still might fail because success is never guaranteed, but you can also learn from every experience and continue to take calculated risks until you succeed.
It’s better than never trying.
Never Mistake the Importance of Negotiation
Unfortunately for most people, fear leads to a failure to negotiate salary. But Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.
The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.