The worst job I've ever had was when I was a Customer Liaison Officer at Centrelink... and, yes when I say "worst job" I’m including the retail assistant job at Kmart where once a 3-year-old called me the ‘c’ word and the Commonwealth Bank call centre operator job where a caller once masturbated to the sound of my voice.
Without a doubt the worst job was Customer Liaison Officer or CLO as they called it because Government services love an acronym. The job title makes it sound official and extremely important but, basically my job was to go up to people in the reception line at the Hobart Centrelink office and ask them why they were there.
My job pretty much went like this:
Me: Hello! What are you looking to do today?
Customer: Hi! I’m just wanting to lodge this form
Me: Okay, just stay in line and the receptionist will book you in to see someone
Customer: Can you lodge the form for me?
Me: No, unfortunately I can’t because I don't know how... but, the receptionist will book you in to see someone who can
Customer So, I just have to stay in the line? Your job is to tell me to stay in the line?
Me: (awkwardly) Yeah, pretty much
Customer: (long pause) No offence, I mean, you seem like a really friendly person... but... what’s the point of you?
Monday through to Friday from 8:45am to 5:45pm I asked myself exactly the same question. What was the point of me being there? My feelings of complete inconsequentialism were not helped by the fact no one replaced me when I was sick or on holidays.
I was so miserable in this non-fulfilling and unchallenging role that every morning on my way to work I would wish to be involved in a light car accident. Nothing major of course, just a crash that would see me in hospital for a couple of weeks and therefore, unable to go to work. It's a weird feeling to walk through your office doors and be disappointed to still be in one piece but, that was my life....well, it was my life for nine months and then I quit.
Now, don't worry, I know I was fortunate enough to even have a job when there are so many unemployed people looking for work (trust me, I met some of them in the Centrelink reception line when they came to lodge their Newstart form) but, having a job shouldn't make you miserable either.
Unfortunately the Marie Kondo “does it bring you joy?” approach doesn't apply to the workplace However, I have noticed that regardless of the job there are some reoccurring patterns that might signal it's time to leave.
You hate your job
This is a pretty obvious one. Now, you’re never going to love your job all day, every day, 100% of the time (unless of course you work with baby pandas and in that case hook a sister up!) but, your good days should always outweigh your bad ones. If the sinking feeling of a depression pit hits you on Sunday afternoon because you dread returning to your soul sucking workplace prison dungeon the next day then it's safe to say you need to pack up your stapler and leave. Don't stay in a job you hate just because you feel guilty that it's someone else's dream job.... in fact, do them a favour because you leaving just opens the doors for them.
Your job feels like a bad relationship
Describe your job to someone - if that description sounds like you're a victim with Stockholm Syndrome making excuses and sympathising with your abuser then yeah, it's time to make like a banana and split. I know a lot of people, myself included, who have stayed in jobs they don’t like because they felt as if they “owed’ their loyalty to the company. Remember, work is a transaction - skills and time are exchanged for a salary. You can be thankful for the opportunities your workplace has given you but, you are never in their debt. In fact, those opportunities worked in their benefit too. You don't owe you workplace for the time and energy you spent, very literally, doing your job.
Money is the only thing keeping you there
I'm no expert but, I reckon one of the top reasons people stay in a job they don't like is because the money is good. I get that. Financial security is the luxury that supports the lifestyle that I have now grown accustomed to. However, if you're spending a good chunk of your salary buying things that will make you happy or on stimulants that make you forget how unhappy you are then is it really worth it? At the end of day, you have to ask yourself what the "good money" is costing you.
You’re not growing
As humans we enjoy being challenged, it’s why reality TV cooking competitions exist. A challenge is an opportunity to unlock your potential and if you’re not satisfied at work then chances are you’re not being given opportunities to challenge yourself and grow. Ask for more challenge and responsibilities but, if you remain stagnate remember that every workplace has a vertical structure and if you're not climbing the ladder then it's time to jump off your rung.
You're workload is getting bigger but, your salary is not
Doing the odd job here and there is to be expected in any workplace, helping pick up the slack is what they call being a "team player". However, you should never be expected to continually do the workload of someone multiple levels above your pay packet without being paid accordingly. Know your worth and ensure your employer respects it. Volunteer outside of work, not in it.
You don't think you're good enough to apply for other jobs
Now, the only person who can go from university cleaner to advanced mathematical genius is good ol' Will Hunting so, there are going to be jobs you're not "good enough" for ie jobs you're not qualified for. However, if you're not applying for similar jobs because you're convinced you're not good enough then that's workplace conditioning - maybe it's something they said to you or opportunities you keep being overlooked for but, every time it happens your work confidence is chipped away until you think you have to stay there forever because you're not good enough to do anything else. Yes, it will suck if you're unsuccessful in your application and receive that rejection letter but, it will suck more if you stay.
Every morning on your way to work you wish for a light car accident
This is a real no brainer. I’m actually disappointed it took me so long to realise that wishing for a light car accident is not normal or healthy.
Unless you're the heir to a real estate fortune or an overnight Powerball winner then you're going to need to work... and, since you're going to be spending a big chunk of your life there you may as well be doing something you at least like.
Until then, drive safe.