Landing on your feet after a bad move


November 11, 1991|By Joyce Lain Kennedy | Joyce Lain Kennedy,Sun Features Inc.

Dear Joyce: I have learned a great deal from your columns but I haven't seen my question addressed. Three months ago I took a job against my better judgment because the pay is high, the benefits are good and the market is soft. I now realize I made a mistake and find myself hating to go to work in the morning, moving through the day on automatic pilot and counting the minutes until the clock strikes 5:30.

My wife, who is employed, wants me to wait until the recession is really over, at least until election time next year when the market may improve. I am not a job hopper but I don't know if I can hold out that long. Even my old job would be better than this incarceration. What do you think?-- A.B.C.

Analyze the source of your discontent. That's square one. It may be that you are exhausted with your occupation, not your current employment situation. The employer may not be the enemy -- you may no longer find value in what you are doing. That's a different question.

But if your discontent is caused by your current position or your current workplace situation, can you reasonably hope to modify it to your liking? If not, by staying you may literally make yourself sick.

In the most comprehensive guide for career wellness I've seen, "The Career Doctor" (Wiley & Sons) by Neil M. Yeager, Ed.D., the wise young counselor/author says the longer you deny the reality of the problem, the worse things get.

If you can't restructure the job, see if you can make a move within the organization, Dr. Yeager explains. "Remember, they thought enough of you to hire you above all other applicants. It's safe to assume they still value your potential contribution and would see your leaving as a considerable loss."

If the situation is unsalvageable, develop a workable strategy that doesn't leave your self-esteem in tatters. One of Dr. Yeager's clients, determined to keep his discontent a secret until he found another job, created a mythological family illness to cover his frequent absences from work for interviews. Another raced down the street during breaks to make calls from a phone booth. He thought it was a secret until a colleague sarcastically asked him if he was trying out for the Olympics in phone calling.

Dr. Yeager believes in the direct approach. "Bite the bullet and let your employer know that things are not working out. Chances are your boss already knows and has been trying to figure out a graceful way to get rid of you.

"Your initiative will probably lead to a sense of relief for both of you. More than likely your employer will cooperate in helping you move on so you can be replaced with someone more suitable for the job. You can regain your self-respect in what can be a very dismal time. Admitting defeat is a humbling experience."

If the employer is willing, Dr. Yeager advises, see if you can negotiate a reasonable time period to find work.

In short, cut your losses. As someone once said, "If your cow doesn't give milk, sell him."

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