By Amanda Frank, Monster Contributing Writer
You’re not quite content at work, nevertheless you shuttle to and fro your job every business day. You know that nothing in life is perfect, so you do your best to placate the sneaking suspicion that something’s off -- that you’re in the wrong job. Is your job an ominous presence you should exorcise from your life? You certainly don’t need to be M. Night Shyamalan to see the signs.
Sign No. 1: You’re a Loner at Work
You’re not a social pariah, yet you have no friends at work. You’re not clicking with anyone in your office. You’re unable to forge a connection with your coworkers beyond exchanging the most rudimentary pleasantries. You go in, you do your job and you leave.
What’s keeping you from bonding? Are you too different in terms of age, culture or style? Be honest. Is the kitten appliqué on your colleague’s sweatshirt keeping you two from hitting it off? Shallow as it sounds, maybe you need to be in a work environment with colleagues who match up with you a little better.
Working without your peeps is long, dry and alienating. Your productivity depends on friends -- and so does your long-term happiness.
Sign No. 2: You’re Ashamed of Your Job
Here’s a sure sign you’re in the wrong job. You can’t bring yourself to tell people what you do. Think how much your shame will impede your ability to be effective in your job and how many networking opportunities you’ll miss if you hide behind euphemistic statements like “I’m in property management” when, in fact, you run an adult movie theater.
Whether you manufacture porn or toilet paper, take pride in how well you do your job. If you aren’t proud of your work you’ll never be able to derive satisfaction from it.
Sign No. 3: Your Workload Overwhelms You
It’s normal to feel a little frazzled now and again, especially amid pressure-cooker deadlines and quarter-end quotas. But it’s not a good sign if you routinely carry on like a decapitated chicken. You’re in the wrong job if you have more work than you’re capable of doing in the allotted time.
It’s also not a good sign if you’re so overwhelmed that you experience frequent bouts of anxiety. You’re agitated. You’re emotional. You have mood swings. One minute you’re on your daily commute laughing at something you heard on sports radio and the next minute you're sobbing inconsolably because somebody cut you off on the road.
Sign No. 4: You’re Stagnating at Work
You’re underutilizing your skills to the point of atrophy. This is not quite the same as being overqualified. You can still be in the right job even if it’s beneath your level of expertise. But it’s a bad sign if you’re losing the stuff that makes you stand out professionally. Unless you use and develop most skills regularly, you’ll lose them and fall behind.
What to do? Renew your membership to a trade association, keep current with required training or work a minimum number of hours in your specialization. You’re in the wrong job if you can’t or don’t have time to do these things.
Sign No. 5: There’s No Growth and Development in Your Job
Somewhere along the way you landed a job, and the company mistook you for a mere functionary. Or maybe you mistook yourself for a mere functionary. Your job contains zero element of discovery. In reality, you’re a student of life and have plenty left to learn. It’s your responsibility to continue your education. You’re in the wrong job if you’re not exposed to learning opportunities or aren’t taking advantage of them.
Opportunities don’t hide under rocks. They’re all around you -- at industry events, weekend seminars, Webinars. Most companies have budget to send their staff for professional development and training when it’s relevant to the job. Find out what your employer’s policy is.
If you can’t access company funding, take advantage of your fellow colleagues and clients. If you’re new to the job, learn from the tenured people. If you’re a veteran, learn from the newbie with the fresh perspective. The key is to keep an open mind and recognize the chances you’re given to grow and develop.
If you recognize yourself a little too much in these menacing signs, then use them as a wake-up call. You owe it to yourself to look around for something worthy of your time and energy.