The other day at lunch, I overhead two women in their prime at the next table engaging in a loud and lively chat about work.
Joanne, a spirited, redheaded gal in a bright pink jacket, said her current boss was about 25 years her junior, and he "literally couldn’t know less about good leadership." She said she felt like an outsider, hated wasting so much time in meetings, felt totally overqualified for her job, and she absolutely dreaded going to work. Her friend sympathized and asked her why she stayed.
“Oh, I’m not going to leave. It’s fine. It’s not that bad. My boss is young and stupid, but that’s just how work is,” Joanne said.
EEEEK. Now, naturally I could have donned my career coaching cap and butted on in to their conversation, but clearly not the time or place. After all, this might have been a healthyish form of venting. Maybe just having her friend’s ear made Joanne feel heard and validated.
But it’s tough to say. Is that really the case or is that a copout for not being bold enough to make a move? Of course, we don't know the whole story. If YOU truly felt the way the Joanne says she does, might you be on the lookout for a better opportunity? Are you in a role that has more genuine negatives than plusses? Do you agree with Joanne that work is naturally that way? Or would you be proactive and make a smart move before you're too unhappy, out of energy, bitter and behind in your skills?
Vent At Your Own Risk & Know Why You're Doing It
The fact is people LOVE to complain about work. Their boss is an idiot. They are underpaid. Too many meetings. Their desk is too small. Their coworker whistles all the time. Too long a commute. Their work doesn’t add value. The organization isn't run well.
Expressing concerns or amusing anecdotes about work is fine as long as negative comments aren't shared with the wrong people and bite you in the bottom (as in colleagues who gleefully repeat your gripes); as long as it doesn't make you act in self-sabotaging ways; and as long the listener is trustworthy and doesn’t mind. (Naturally, sharing valid concerns to the right people, ie your supervisor, HR, etc., in the right way is crucial.)
This lunchtime convo reminded me of a recent, robust exchange on a popular career site for women. The woman who started the thread said she was struggling to land a job she really wanted. She’d been trying for months. Dozens of women chimed in with similar grievances.
One woman said she’d even been to five interviews with no job offers. Another said she wasn’t getting interviews from the dozens and dozens of resumes she’d been sending out. Another said she’d “been looking” for 18 months so she was thinking of completely revamping her goals, her resume and her entire life.
Again, we’re not hearing the whole story, but on the surface, those approaches don’t exactly sound like proactive, effective strategies.
What are some better steps to take? When we get plenty of interviews and no offers, odds are our interviewing skills need improvement; are those dozens and dozens of resumes carefully tailored to each position? What exactly does “been looking” entail and have the right steps been taken in the right order? I’d sure hope so before considering a total life revamp!
Here’s where I thought it got interesting. Last I looked, over 120 women had chimed in, and only a few of the comments were from women like me offering sound advice. The response to those who offered gentle, encouraging and effective solutions? CRICKETS.
Are Comfort & Commiseration The End Goals??
It makes me wonder if people not only love to complain about work — and have no intention of making a change; do they also gain comfort in venting about not being able to LAND a job — and ignore free guidance and support from professionals who help others overcome the exact problems they are complaining about??
Is it just easier or somehow more appealing to grouse and receive attention, a lot of understanding and sympathy around that than taking active steps to fix the situation? Is the feeling of commiseration that powerful? Did the venters not believe the strategies being offered would help them? If so, no one said that; the input was just ignored. What else is going on here?
Now, believe me, I get how unpleasant it is to be in work you don’t like; I’ve been in jobs that were such bad fits I’d get a stomachache over weekend just thinking about heading into work on Monday.
And I know how there’s definite comfort in having empathic listeners on my side; I’ve complained to people I was right to trust and who acted as a sounding board, and I’ve vented to people I shouldn’t have been blabbing anything to.
I also know that finding work that’s an excellent fit IS challenging. It does take a lot of work. It can be extremely confusing and frustrating when you don’t know how to approach it right. It also can be so incredibly rewarding when there’s an ideal match with your skills, goals, work style and personality. And it can be pure joy when you get support finding this match from someone who has devoted years to perfecting a dream-job landing methodology that is mindful and strategic.
And that’s why I do what I do — I love helping people thrive because I don’t wish my bad-job experience on anyone. There’s such a significant quality of life difference between being in work where we are heard, valued and allowed to shine vs being in work where we’re not appreciated, challenged or respected. Life’s too short to settle for a blah or bad work experience, and the world becomes a better place every single time someone lands their ideal job.
Vent, Then Act (Or Act Before You Feel The Need To Vent!)
In that spirit, if you’re considering pursuing new, meaningful work but you’re not sure where to begin, grab my free Love Monday Roadmap.
Or, if you’re like the ladies in the online chat in the midst of a job search and feeling stuck, let’s look at that for a minute.
When a client comes to me frustrated with their job search or career change, 99% of the time, there is one of two challenges at play: 1) They are either stuck somewhere specific in the process or 2) They aren’t making much headway at all and are focused on haphazard tactics versus taking the right steps in the right order.
So, together we analyze precisely where in the process they are hitting a roadblock, and we get them unstuck, whether that’s their interviewing skills, branding, resume, body language, networking or alignment with the jobs they are pursuing.
This solution is called Laser Coaching, which is a really focused form of Career Coaching. Usually all it takes is one or a handful of sessions to help a client pinpoint where they’re stuck, work on improving that area, then getting them rolling smoothly again in the rest of their job search journey.
If the challenge is bigger than that, we look at what they have done to find new work up to this point, and we work together to identify all the right steps they need to take in exactly the right order.
So, regardless of why some people seem to prefer venting over taking action, I still hold out hope many will reflect and find the input that works for them (that includes you, Joanne!). And I hope you find the solutions you need too and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.
Trie Angeleva LOVES helping people Reimagine Monday. A Mindful Dream-Job Career Coach, she's a proud adopted-dog mom, former CIO and COO, travel-happy yogi and founder of The Love Monday Method. She developed and taught Career Success Preparation for The Media School at Indiana University, where she taught 21 classes. Trie has two Master's degrees, six coaching certifications and a certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. Follow her on instagram at @reimaginemonday for tips and strategies on how to land work you love and thrive personally and professionally.
If you're stuck in YOUR dream-job search, Trie's got you covered! For recent and soon-to-be college students, she's got a free checklist you will LOVE. For pros in their prime, who need a little clarity figuring out what to do when in their search, Trie has a short, sweet and super succinct free roadmap that maps out all the steps to take in what order. Best wishes and reach out with any questions.