“I Hate My Job, But I Don't Have The Skills I Need To Leave. Am I Trapped?”

Jane's miserable. She's going nowhere in the career she fell into (and suffering from major job-hate fatigue). But what do you do when you can't get out until you've learned how to do something else, and you can't stand another day where you are?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a customer service advisor at a financial services organisation. I've been here for five years doing pretty much the same entry-level job.

I fell into this job after graduating and then sort of drifting about, going through periods of bar work, temporary call centre jobs and a few months' travelling.

I didn't apply for this job with a career in mind – I just needed work.

How do you feel about your work?

I hate my job!

A trained monkey could do it. I feel miserable: I'm often bored, or I'll be frustrated and angry because I've had to speak to someone rude, or I've had to sit for hours in a meeting listening to people who love the sound of their own voices.

I coasted along quite happily at first because I loved my colleagues, but most of my friends have moved on now and I've realised just how much time I've wasted here.

The thought of being here another week makes me feel a bit desperate, but the applications I send out for similar jobs are getting me nowhere – who knows, maybe they can tell how I feel about customer service / administration work.

I feel like the last five years of my working life have been a waste. There are few opportunities for promotion where I work, and little to no opportunities to undertake formal training that might improve my skills without committing to stay here for another three years or pay for it myself.

I can't afford to pay for a course or go back to university, so I'm no more skilled than I was when I walked through the door five years ago, which makes applying for something above my current pay grade quite tricky.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I know that I probably haven't found the thing I love yet, but in an effort to get myself out of the rut I'm in I've chosen to learn web development.

I like the flexibility of the work, being able to work for myself and get out of the office environment, being able to create whatever I dream up – not to mention the opportunity to earn a decent income.

Plus, I can make my own rules. I don't have to adhere to lengthy HR policies and take my lunch at a certain time, or make small talk at the water cooler!

I've started to find out what it would be like, approaching some web developers at work to find out from them what their job is like and what they think it would be like to go freelance – so I can test out my shift before I commit any more time or money to it.

I've also started to learn how to do it, using any free or nearly free resources I can find.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

If you could plug me into some kind of matrix-style machine that would make me a fully trained up developer in five minutes I'd quit my job tomorrow! But until it's invented I'm going to have to take the long road and learn gradually like everyone else.

I'm a long way away from being able to earn money from my new skills and in the meantime the emotional roller coaster I ride at work is exhausting.

I end each day tense and unhappy and I feel like every minute of my life at work is water trickling down a drain – a waste!

Sometimes I feel like I'll never get there, especially when my day job makes me so miserable, all I want to do at the end of the day is curl up with a book or in front of the TV and forget it all.

I hate the thought of having to stay in my job for another year but I don't know what to do about it. Where do I go? 

Or do I just stay here and bear it until I can finally get out?

When training to make my escape is going to take time, do I really have to stay in a job I hate?

Can you help Jane?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Jane could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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