How to Deal With Job Dissatisfaction

Updated September 30, 2022

At some point in your career, you may experience job dissatisfaction. In fact, this feeling is not uncommon. There are certainly varying levels of dissatisfaction and many factors that can cause unhappiness in the workplace. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to avoid telling your employer, “I hate my job” and to instead find a professional way to express yourself and resolve the situation. In some cases, you may find that the best option is to move on to a new opportunity.

In this guide, we’ll cover some steps you can take to alleviate stress or dissatisfaction, and how to know when it’s time to pursue a new job.

Stages of job dissatisfaction

If your job doesn’t feel like a good fit, it can be appropriate to search for a new job at any point. Whether you decide this is the right move for you or not may depend on the level of dissatisfaction you’re feeling. The issue may be something you can resolve and if it’s not, reflecting on the source and degree of the problem can give you helpful insight while you seek a new position.

Consider the following scenarios and whether your situation is related. While you may fall into just one of these categories, job dissatisfaction can also be experienced progressively through all the categories. Whatever your situation, it is important to remember the following when addressing job dissatisfaction:

Practice appropriate venting

Be careful when telling people about your workplace frustrations—it can be healthy to vent but choose your audience wisely. Family or friends who aren’t associated with your workplace are often good options. Avoid sharing your work frustrations on social media or elsewhere on the internet. These could be seen by current or future employers.

Be professional

It is important to maintain good relationships with employers and colleagues. You may come to rely on these connections if you’re interested in other opportunities with the same company or for positive references in the future.

Stage 1: “Work is just okay”

If you’re in this stage, you might notice feeling unexcited or apathetic about work. If this is the case, you could consider the following actions to make your work more fulfilling and satisfying:

Write down your goals

Consider where you want to be in five years. Is your current role helpful in progressing you towards that goal? If not, how can you work with your manager to make your workload more fulfilling?

Pay attention to the duties you enjoy

Do you find that your time passes quickly when you’re performing a specific task? Being able to contribute more time to projects or initiatives you enjoy can help improve your overall experience at work.

Talk with people in roles that interest you

Is there another department or position that interests you? See if there are opportunities to work on extra projects related to those areas. If there aren’t current opportunities, it can still be worthwhile to develop relationships with these teams or people in case something opens up in the future.

Stage 2: “I’m feeling slightly dissatisfied at work”

In this stage, you might notice that your feelings of discontent have persisted for several weeks or months. At this point, it could be helpful to make a list of people, duties, processes or cultural elements that make work stressful or frustrating.

Once you’ve identified these factors, it might be possible to address the issue yourself. You can do this by taking your list and suggesting an organizational improvement for each issue. For example, if one of your frustrations is that many of your colleagues come to you for answers, you could develop a plan to train them to resolve issues for themselves. As a next step, you could suggest to your supervisor that overall productivity could be improved if you were given time to provide this training.

With this approach, you might even be able to make a positive change for your team or company as a whole, since others might be experiencing the same dissatisfaction. Addressing a problem and suggesting solutions is a trait many employers value in employees.

These are also valuable accomplishments to remember when updating your resume and applying for new opportunities. Stories like these are perfect answers for common interview questions like, “Can you tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle?”

Stage 3: “I’m unhappy at work”

Once you’ve identified the problems that are causing your unhappiness and have tried addressing them yourself, it may be appropriate to bring your concerns to a supervisor. In many organizations, managers need and want to know about the issues you’re experiencing at work. They may be able to identify solutions you haven’t thought of yet. Other members on their team may even be experiencing the same feelings, and hearing your feedback could help them understand the larger issue.

If you’re having trouble pinpointing the issue(s), try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are there certain tasks you dislike doing because they are inefficient or unproductive?

  • Are there any colleagues making you uncomfortable or unhappy?

  • Is there anything about the company culture you don’t agree with?

  • Is your manager supporting you and the team?

  • Do you feel unrecognized for certain tasks or accomplishments?

You might also consider if your dissatisfaction at work is being caused by external forces. It may be the case that you actually do enjoy your job but are experiencing stress or frustration from something outside of work. You may also consider other times you’ve been dissatisfied at work or school. If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, it might be helpful to research healthy ways to deal with stress.

It can be uncomfortable to lean into feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction but reflecting on the source can often lead to personal growth and understanding—which in itself can lead to greater overall satisfaction. Moreover, knowing what is causing your unhappiness can help you avoid entering another stressful workplace.

Stage 4: “I hate my job”

If your feelings of dissatisfaction have continued even after careful self-reflection, identifying the causes and communicating with your employer, it may be time to pursue other opportunities that are a better fit for you.

Consider the following steps when you’ve decided it’s time to look for other options:

Write down your goals

Before you begin searching for other opportunities, it can be helpful to frame your job search by writing down your personal and professional goals to ensure your new opportunity helps you achieve them.

Review frustrations you experienced in your current role

Take time to review the reasons you’re looking for new opportunities. Identify what you’ve learned from these experiences so that you can reframe them when you apply and interview for other jobs. You can also look out for these factors while you’re evaluating potential employers. Indeed’s company review pages are a great way to research companies that might be a better fit for you.

It is important to remember that your frustrations could have come from being in a position or field that doesn’t fit your interests, skills or abilities. If this is true for you, you could begin your job search by exploring jobs that are better for you.

Update your resume

Add your most recent accomplishments to your resume. You may also consider re-prioritizing information based on the options you’re considering. If you want to explore different roles or industries, look at resume samples to learn which skills and experiences are most relevant. Consider drafting a tailored resume to apply for those positions.

Explore opportunities within your company

If you like your employer but are dissatisfied with your specific role, it may be worth considering jobs in other departments within your company. If your frustrations are coming from the company as a whole (leadership, culture, etc.), you may want to skip this step.

Search for opportunities outside your company

You can start with Indeed to search for openings in the location of your choice on desktop or mobile. You can filter by salary, job type, experience level and more.

Leaving an unsatisfying job

While it can be tempting to leave an unsatisfying work situation promptly, lining up a new opportunity before you quit can provide more flexibility. This gives you time to explore new jobs and industries, research new companies and find an opportunity you’re excited about while having a steady income.

When leaving your job, it is important to follow any procedures your company has in place including notifying your manager, providing two weeks notice or completing an exit interview. Leaving your workplace in a positive way is important as you move into new opportunities.

Related: How to Write a Resignation Letter

For many people, their job is one of the most important things in their day-to-day lives. It provides income to support you and your family, and requires large amounts of your time. As a result, being satisfied at work can have a positive effect on many other aspects of your life. Finding a job where you are can grow and thrive is something worth searching for.

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