I get it. I really get it. You stay at that job you secretly despise because you feel you have no other choice. Better to be working in an unhealthy environment than not working at all, right? Right?
Wrong. It’s all wrong, whatever your preconditioned thoughts on work are. Let me tell you, they are most probably wrong. Inevitably, any of us can end up working a job that we are not happy in. People stay for a myriad of reasons; out of comfort, laziness, financial commitments, fear of the unknown.
It’s important you understand the message I am trying to portray. I don’t want to inspire anybody to quit their job and end up broke, up to their eyeballs in debt, and quite literally broken. No no no.
Let’s face it, we spend the majority of our lives at work (assuming full time work). If you spend those days watching the clock, stressed beyond belief, feeling your blood boil; and every Sunday evening you get that sheer feeling of dread. You need to leave and chase your dreams. Time waits for no one.
Now I do understand the apprehension before leaving a job… you are walking out into the unknown. The act has to be executed, and planned well. Here are my top tips to ensure the transition runs smoothly, and you are promised a happier working life:
1. Saving face
If you are staying at a job you aren’t happy in, because of severe financial commitments – this can be very tricky. What I would advise is that you maintain savings as much as physically possible. Set yourself a goal, for example, give yourself three months to save as much as possible and start moving towards your leave. If your bills outweigh your wages, perhaps even try to find a second job (temporarily) just to get you out of your current situation. You could also try selling unwanted items on eBay (believe it or not eBay kept me going when I lost my job a few months ago), having a clear out will also help you to feel more liberated and envigorated. When the time is right and you feel secure, you can hand in your notice and start again.
2. Temp work
In London there are so many work agencies that can help you find temp work – and this can be in a variety of industries. This really helps when you are between jobs / careers. It gives a steady cash flow, and you gain experience. You may even find a company that you’d like to stay at long term. Temping is a really great opportunity for graduates and job seekers alike to make up money whilst searching for permanent positions.
Also, you can be a complete agency whore and sign up to as many as possible. Go with the one whom finds you a role first.
3. Apply, apply, apply
Even whilst you are at the job you want to leave, apply for as many positions as you can. If it’s feasible, speak to your manager and explain your situation. You cannot be fired for attending job interviews, you are well within your rights to do so. I know a lot of people feel very awkward about doing this, but I personally feel your manager should respect your honesty. Otherwise, you will continue to do so in secrecy – and this will make attending interviews very difficult.
Now when I say apply for as many jobs as possible, I think a lot of people misconstrue what ‘a lot of jobs’ implies. I’m not talking about sitting at your laptop and applying for ten jobs. No honey. This is London, there are millions of people competing for job roles. It’s dog eat dog. I would say realistically, every evening apply for 20-30 job roles.
You’ll start hearing back around two weeks later, this is when you’ll start organising interviews. You’ll also need to filter through and only attend the ones you feel are worth leaving your current job for. There are a lot of fabricated companies / agencies out there that are deliberately looking for staff to exploit. Don’t fall into the trap of leaving your long term job for a short term fail.
I would advise (and I only know this now after a terrible experience), before attending any job interview to thoroughly research. Research the company itself, and if you have any pejorative gut feeling about the job. Do not go to the interview – they’ll be plenty of others. You see, desperation often makes us deluded, we convince ourselves the situation at hand is fine because we are desperate for a job. It’s important to always keep your cool in this scenario – don’t accept what you don’t deserve. Patience is key.
4. Part timers
Another option would be to discuss your situation with your manager, and perhaps have one day off in the week. Or cut down your hours so that you are able to attend interviews – having time off your current role to attend interviews can be one of the harder tasks. Particularly when you don’t get the job, you feel disheartened at losing money by missing work and wasting your time. But you must plough through. There will be hella rejection throughout this process, you have to take the rough with the smooth.
5. Education is key
Depending on your situation, perhaps you feel you don’t have enough education or skills to get into the field you want to. Remember you are never too old to learn. If you want to leave your job to study, it’s a great thing to improve your knowledge and skill set.
Approach your employer and discuss the various options, maybe you’ll leave altogether, or continue to work part time until your studies are over? This really will depend on your personal situation. Another option could be temp work while you study, as there’s little commitment but it’s steady money.
6. Social security
Now this is going to be an unpopular option, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you do end up unemployed, either by choice or not; remember that the welfare state in this country is there to help you.
There is such a negative stigma surrounding job centres, and claiming benefits. You have to remember while you are out of work, this is money you are entitled to. It will allow you to have money to attend interviews, you can also claim housing benefit whilst unemployed if you are worried about not being able to pay rent.
It’s not nice, it’s not glamorous and nobody wants to sign on. But actually it’s a great reality check, and I think it pushes you harder to get a job.
When you think you have no options, this is always an option. It’s not a fantastic one, but it’s there to fall back on nevertheless.
Overall I would say that your health and happiness is what is most important. Chase your dreams, there is no point wasting your time in dead end jobs that make you miserable. I’m only 25, and I have witnessed individuals staying in jobs out of pure laziness, willing to put up with corruption, breaking laws and other terrible misdemeanours that you can’t even imagine. You really have to ask yourself, what am I worth if I don’t have the strength to leave this job, if I am willing to betray my personal morals and make myself miserable, whilst this company grows richer at my expense?
There is a big wide world out there, and it is scary. But your dream exists out there, ready to be captured. If you don’t chase it, you’ll spend the rest of your life helping others chase theirs.