One reader writes:

I took a storm of any port because of the pandemic and was wondering what’s next.

The background: After suddenly losing my job last year, I was thrown into an urgent job search. Four months ago I got a job with a decent salary, almost the same job as before, but in a sector I wouldn’t have chosen if I hadn’t been desperately looking for a job. It was definitely an “I’ll take the job because it’s the first offer” situation, but I was grateful to get it.

The people here are nice and have put a lot of time into training. They obviously expect me to stay in the job for many years, as is the norm with most former employees in my role. I would like to work independently in the future and am even thinking about a complete change of occupation, but that will take a long time and I have to stay in the job for several years in the meantime. I thought this would be a good setup for the next five years.

But I noticed that I didn’t enjoy the job at all. I’m used to working on projects that don’t set me on fire, but that was by far the most stressful job I’ve ever had. Part of this is due to inefficient work practices that I should have some control over over time, but I don’t think they will go away completely. My department – and therefore I too – shoulder an enormous workload that has nothing to do with my role and should be taken over by a completely different department. It really affects my ability to do my main job and I work long hours during busy weeks. I’ve been told that due to the pressure from the pandemic, that won’t change for the foreseeable future. I also encountered some ethical concerns about the company’s work that I was not expecting.

I had told myself that my unhappiness was only part of adjusting to a new job and that I should focus on being thankful for the paycheck and it would get better when I settled in better. Perhaps that will be the case to some extent. But on Sunday evenings I have this “fear of going to work” feeling that I haven’t had in years and it really makes me feel insecure. So I wonder if it’s okay to just conclude that while it was a rescue job, it wasn’t a job for me in the long run.

If I choose how long do I have to stay? I know I have to work at least a year for my resume and the job hunt could take forever anyway. But I think my employer would be really disappointed if they left that fast, and I don’t want to look sloppy with recruiters and compromise my ability to find a job that I would enjoy more. However, life feels too short to be dissatisfied with my work life, and I feel sad at the thought of dreading Monday for the next five years.

You can read my reply to that letter in New York Magazine today. Go there to read it.



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