I talk to candidates daily, some of whom are waaaaaay too open about how unhappy they are in their current situations. Let's face it, work is tough. Regardless of the position, there are going to be days, months, even years (for some individuals) that are off the chart with challenges and negativity. You can't necessarily control that. But you can control your response. Like the new-age therapist that offers up controlled breathing exercises to help you keep it in control, the Career Capitalist is here to tell you that I (like all interviewers) want to hear about the positives you took away from that tough situation. The learning experiences, the career growth, etc...
In an effort to share the wealth and the resources I run into, here's a great post from Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation. Entitled "Open letter to employees across the Corporate World", its a take responsibility for yourself, bootstrap entry designed to get you out of your funk. From Pam's entry:
"I have met you in meeting rooms, hallways, on conference calls and on the internet. You work for large corporations which you detest. You arrive at your cubicle every morning with a vaguely sick feeling in your stomach and begin your day of work. You have too much to do. Co-workers left and no one replaced them, so you have inherited their job and all the work that went with it."
When I read that, I had a flashback to watching Brad Pitt talk about materialism in Fight Club or Neo talking to the machines from the phone booth at the end of the original Matrix. Favorite Pitt quote from Fight Club by the way - "We're the middle children of history, man...."
Before you think this is a post about talking about how bad it is, it's not. After that intro to get you nodding your head, Pam kicks in with a list of your responsibilities to get off the floor and into the game from a career standpoint, which is sage advice. Here are my three favorite things she offers up:
"Pay attention to who you go to lunch with. It is therapeutic to bitch and complain about your job once you are out of earshot of your manager or coworkers. But are you spending all your time with people who just complain and never do anything to change their life? You are what you eat, say and who you hang out with. If you want your life to grow in a positive direction, surround yourself with people who are eager to learn, problem-solve and support each other. I don't mean you can never complain - just don't get stuck whining all the time.
Always have a Plan B, C and D. Even if you have a great job right now, you should always know what your next step is if everything blows up tomorrow. Network with people inside and outside your company to know what kinds of jobs or businesses you are interested in. It is perfectly ethical to scan job boards even if you are happily employed (just don't do it all day on work time - a little tacky). I know how busy you are. That is not a viable excuse when it comes to something as important as securing your livelihood.
Don't think of your job as a paycheck, think of it as a learning opportunity. Learning should be the primary thing on your mind at all times. You can be in a hellacious job situation and still learn from it. I was once on a great team inside a company that had questionable management. When our recommendations were shot down for reasons we knew were wrong, we would discuss the implications and try to guess the outcome. Most times we were exactly right, and would learn a lot from the experience. If you have taken the time to create a long term life plan, you should be clear what things you need to learn to get there."
Check out the rest of Pam's post here, and don't be a victim when talking to recruiters no matter how down you are - they are judging your negativity and are projecting that you will carry it into their company like a favorite paper clip holder. Get positive and get in the game...