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What to Do When Your Dream Job Turns Into a Nightmare

Secretary and her director at work

You’ve found your dream job — it’s in your target field, matches your skills and goals perfectly, and pays a great salary. Yet, you’re miserable.

Perhaps the work is more boring than you imagined it could ever be. Maybe you’re working under a micromanager or you have co-workers who are bullies. Perhaps your personal style just doesn’t fit with the company’s culture.

What do you do when your dream job becomes a nightmare?

First, set aside any “follow-your-bliss” thinking you may be engaging in and look at things pragmatically. Sometimes, what your heart is telling you to do isn’t necessarily the best thing for your career. You need to listen to your head to decide if it’s better to jump ship or stay put.

Before you start sending out resumes, evaluate the source of your unhappiness and what, if anything, you can do to improve your situation in your current job.

If your supervisor is a micromanager, perhaps you can learn something about how to work with someone who takes such a hands-on approach. Working with bullies? Talk to your career coach about how to handle problematic co-workers. Feel like your salary is too low? Research what others in your market and at your level are earning, and use that information to make a well-reasoned argument for a raise during your next performance review.

Rather than make an impulsive move just to end your misery, take the time to really think about what you want, how your current job is advancing your skills, and if your career will be better served by moving on or toughing it out a bit longer. You can learn something from every job, even if it’s just what you don’t want. Make sure you’ve squeezed every ounce of benefit possible out of a job before you move on to the next one. Remember the big picture; your goal is to advance your career, not just to be happy in the moment.

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