Hating your job

A recent Gallup poll reports that 70% of Americans really don’t like their jobs. In fact, according to the poll results, 20% of Americans hate their jobs so much that they actively interfere with the work of the organization. (You can read about the results on the Raleigh News & Observer site.)

How does this happen? Well, in bad economic times, many people are forced to take whatever job they can find, and when they discover that they don’t like it, they may not have a lot of options for finding something different.

So what can you do to avoid this problem? If you’re just starting out in your career, there are some things that you can think about as you do your job search that may increase the chances that you end up with something you like. I recently asked a small group of college students to think about the aspects of a job that could affect how much they like it. The list they came up with was actually quite long, but the following are some of the more important points.

Fair pay for your work: But what is “fair”? There are a lot of factors that contribute to that, including the experience the worker brings to the job, the amount of competition for the position, and the geographic location of the employment. (Tips 9, 13, and 14 and in my book can help answer this question.)

Congenial coworkers: It’s hard to know what people are really like until you start working with them every day, but you may be able to get a sense of this when you go for an interview. Do people seem happy? Do they seem to enjoy their work? Many years ago I interviewed for a job and each person I talked with seemed cranky and unfriendly. I wasn’t all that upset when I didn’t get offered the position! You can also check the organization’s website (or ask in an interview) about any type of social activities, such as a softball team or after work events. If workers choose to spend time together outside of the office, it’s a good sign that they like one another.

Office environment: This can mean different things to different people. For some it’s the actual, physical setting of the work and for others it has more to do with atmosphere. Regardless of how you interpret it, only you can know what makes you comfortable, and you should certainly check it out when you interview. (Tip 11 in my book helps you think about some of the aspects of office environment that you’ll want to consider.)

Location: This is a big one, as it can mean geographic location (e.g., what part of the country as well as urban, suburban, or rural), but it can also mean how near (or far) from family and friends or how long a commute from where you can find safe and affordable housing. Some people want to stay close to home after college, but others see this as a time to explore and be independent. (Tip 8 in my book has some suggestions to help you figure out where you want to live.)