Monday, 9 April 2012

10 Lessons to Take Away From a Bad Job

The difference between a mistake and a failure is whether you can learn something from the experience. From this point of view, my most recent job was a mistake because I have learned more than I ever thought possible. The following skills may not be bullets for my résumé, but they were necessary, tangible, and worth my time to learn. I have plucked these lessons from the depths of career despair, and would like to share them in the hopes that you can learn from my mistakes.

1. You can handle interacting with difficult people

Coworkers are like family. You don’t get to choose them, you may not like them, but you’re stuck with them anyway. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to work with people who are unpleasant or just different than you. Some interactions will go better than others, but the important thing is that you’re getting valuable practice without jeopardizing family ties or friendships that are important to you.

2. You can survive a disaster

On the days when it feels like everything is going wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it, know that you’re probably right. There isn’t anything you can do about it, and this is your opportunity to learn patience and acceptance.  No matter what happens, you will survive the day and you will be a wiser person for it. If all else fails, just remember that you’re getting paid.

3. You don’t have to have a dramatic exit

Letting everyone know exactly what you think might be tempting, but it’s not worth it. They probably have an idea as to how you feel, and making an ass out of yourself isn’t going to change your office’s problems. If you have a legitimate complaint, use the proper channels. Otherwise, accept that you’re leaving this place behind and moving on to greener pastures. Save yourself the embarrassment and quit with a bit of class.

4. Maybe, just maybe, you’re partially to blame

Don’t get me wrong, there’s an excellent chance that you’re a genius and every problem you’ve ever had was someone else’s fault. However, let’s entertain Occam’s razor for a moment and accept that perhaps the simplest answer is that you could’ve handled some situations differently. Somewhere between what you should’ve done and what you actually did lies the potential for growth.

5. You can recognize a lost cause

One day you realized that you were in a bad job. What happened next makes all the difference. It may have taken longer than you had hoped, but now you know a lost cause when you see one. You don’t have to drag it out for an extra 18 months next time. Quit while you’re ahead.

6. When it comes to benefits, you know what matters

Through the course of your employment, you’ve probably learned something about your priorities. Maybe a casual dress code means more to you than a stock option, or a decent medical plan is worth giving up the option for flextime. Whatever it happens to be, you’ve learned what to look for at the next job.

7. You know what it takes to be a great employee

Before you start over in a new office, take some time to reflect on your past experiences. Think about the things your colleagues have done to both annoy and impress you. Learn from them so that you can be the coworker everyone else wants to have around.

8. Money really doesn’t buy happiness

It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank if you spend 8-10 hours every day hating your life. Consider more than just the salary when selecting your next job. There’s no sense in getting a larger paycheck if you’re just going to blow it all on therapy and liquor.

9. You’ve expanded your network

Hopefully you’ve made at least some friends in your office. Not only have you expanded your social circle, you also added to your network of professional contacts. Just one more reason to make sure you leave behind a positive impression.

10. There’s more to life than work

Nothing means more to you than your free time if you’re stuck in a bad job. Think about the people and activities that brought you joy outside of work. Your bad job has just taught you what really matters to you. For me, that was the most important lesson I could’ve taken away from here.


  1. Number 3 would have been helpful for me in the past. I've flounced out of a couple of jobs.

  2. One of our readers has responded by email. He goes by The Magic Muskrat, or M2 for short. Here are his views:

    10 Lessons to Take Away From a Bad Job: The Editorial

    While reading the article on this blog, “10 lessons to take away from a bad job” I couldn’t help but shake my head. While I agreed with most of the points in the blog, and I understand where the author is coming from, some if it is just false. To find out how these lessons should be applied keep reading. This information will come in handy one day.

    The first point I disagree with is the third, “You don’t have to make a dramatic exit.” While maybe you don’t need to go out six guns-a-blazin’ into the sunset you shouldn’t just sit there mousy and continue to take everyone’s shit until you leave. If the reason you are leaving is your coworkers, tell them they suck. If it is because your direct supervisor and his supervisor and so on is incompetent in their abilities, tell them. They need to know they suck. Everyone thinks they are great until told otherwise. Just be sure you provide them with facts as to why they suck. “Mr. Bossman, you suck because you wear an ugly shirt and you don’t say hello to me every day and bring me flowers” isn’t going to fix anything. But pointed arguments backed up with actual events that showed their ineptitude may get it through their big dumb stupid head that yes, indeed, they do suck. At worst, you angered people whom you wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. At best you got through to them and have made the work situation for those not dumb enough to realize how bad their job really is.

    The next point, conveniently enough is point four. Maybe it is you, maybe. We all know that there are two sides to every story and that truth always lies in the middle. But sometimes you have done nothing wrong and for whatever reason whatever deity that controls the universe decides to punish you with that type of people who make Yankees fans look like decent humans. A good way to find out if the cause of the office tension is you or them is to ask your friends, loved ones, friends of the douche bag sitting next to you, whomever if the behavior of said douche bag is within the limits of polite society. If they respond in a way that makes you think you just asked to videotape yourself bathing their toddler, it’s them. Some people are just wastes. Some of these asshats are such dickholes that if their parents got wind of their actions it would cause instant arguments over which side of the family they take after, then a lot of crying as these parents wondered how they could fail so badly.

    Well that’s it for now. As these blogs continue to come out I will apply the truth to them and present them. Hope you enjoyed.


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