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Small Business Digest


Hating Your Job Calls for Self-Examination

Half of U.S. employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, up from two-fifths 10 years ago.

If people are seriously dissatisfied, it's going to affect their attitude. And that may show up in their performance. It could also put them at risk of losing out to others who are more satisfied with what they do.

But are people really in the wrong job or business? Or is it just a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? Are they dissatisfied or unfulfilled for little or no reason? How can they tell?

Vaughan Evans, author of Backing U! A Business-Oriented Guide to Backing Your Passion and Achieving Career Success (Business & Careers Press, 2009) offers these tips:

People should think of themselves as a business. Would they back themselves? Would they invest in They, Inc.? If the answer is no, they're in the wrong job. To invest in a business, or in this case, in themselves, people need to be comfortable on three main fronts: that market demand for services is buoyant, that competition is not too tough, and that they are reasonably well-placed to succeed.

Consider market demand for They, Inc. People need to be sure that demand for themselves isn't about to fall off a cliff. If they worked as a travel agent before the dot-com era, long-term demand for their services wouldn't have looked promising, given the looming threat from e-booking and e-ticketing. Is there something happening in their industry that could affect future demand for the services?

See who's competing. People need reassurance that there aren't too many people competing for jobs the same or similar to theirs. For example, if they work in the printing industry, they may find that jobs like theirs are being outsourced to Asia. Some manufacturing companies have moved their entire operations overseas. Who's lined up to replace the services?
Check how they measure up. How well-placed are people in your marketplace? How well do they meet the capabilities needed to succeed in the job? Do they have the right skills, knowledge and experience? Are they efficient enough? Is their attitude right? Is their heart in what they do? If not, they're in danger of becoming unbackable.

Become more backable. If people find they are in the right job, how can they become more backable? People need a strategy. Which of their strengths can they build on? Which of their weaknesses can they improve in? What study, training or related work experience can they undertake to reinforce that strength or negate that weakness?

Consider moving on. If people find they're unbackable in their current job, it may be time to move on, to a job where they would be backable - preferably in a field that brings out the hwyl in them, the Celtic concept of passion, fervor, and spirit that can lift them to extremes of success. But how to find such a job, and how would people know whether they would be backable there?

List and screen jobs that ignite passion. People should make a long list of all those jobs and businesses done by friends, family, colleagues, people in newspapers or on TV, fictional people in books, movies, etc., that they find exciting, and rate them on a scale of one to five by the amount of hwyl they would feel if they were doing them. Take the top dozen and screen them for gut-feel backability. How promising are the market conditions, and how well-placed would they be in such a job? If none look promising, move on to the next dozen, always moving in descending order of hwyl.

Do a reality check. Take the two or three most promising jobs that emerge from the screen and subject them to the same rigor of analysis that was done on their current job earlier (market demand, competition, position). Of course, people won't know as much about these target jobs as they do their current job, so they will have to do some research. Talk to practitioners, talk to their customers. What entry strategy could be deployed?

Evans offers an example:  "Take Raquel, a Los Angeles bus driver. She was in a job where demand outstripped supply, with vacancies cropping up regularly. She was an excellent driver and had 18 years of experience. Raquel should have been highly backable-well placed in a buoyant job market. There was only one problem: Her heart wasn't in the job. On the contrary, she was becoming ever more stressed by both the Los Angeles traffic and the rude drivers - and passengers. Raquel found she was becoming irritable and oversensitive. She was in danger of becoming unbackable. So she went through the process as set out above. It revealed that gardening was her passion, even though she had never considered it as a possible source of income. Raquel went to evening classes for two years before quitting her driving job and setting up her own garden design and maintenance business. She hasn't looked back since."

That could be you. One of the problems with feeling discontent in a job is that people don't know what to do or where to start. Evans believes Raquel's example shows that these basic steps will get people moving on the right track to finding the right job - or feeling good about their chances of success in their current job.


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