Maybe you’re the sole breadwinner. Maybe you’re saving up to start your own business next year. Maybe you’re trying everything you can to get a new job, and things just aren’t panning out.
In any case, you’re not happy at work, you’re ready for something new, and you’d love to quit your job—but you can’t (at least, not right now).
If this sounds familiar, then we have something in common. I was there once, too—and my advice to you is this: Ask for a change. Before I resigned from my job to pursue my own business, I did just that—and I managed to reduce my hours, double my salary, increase my perks and privileges, and become a full-time telecommuter, all in a not-so-great economy.
No, your boss might not go for all of these changes, but the truth is, you’re in charge of your career, and you always, always have options to make it better. And if quitting your current job isn’t one of them, here are three other moves that can help improve your situation.
Problem: You’re Underpaid or Undercompensated
Solution: Ask for More (and Ask Until You Receive)
You’ve gone above and beyond, put in crazy long hours, and maybe even asked for a raise—but you’re still not being paid what you know you’re worth.
Unfortunately, hard work doesn’t automatically result in deserving rewards, and that’s a huge cause for job dissatisfaction. So, ask for what you want. Regularly.
Start by setting up a one-on-one with your boss on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis. During this meeting, discuss your performance, not project updates. Talk about the specific value you bring to the table, ask how you can make it better, and request specific actionable feedback for improvement.
Then, think about something that would make you happier. Is it better hours, or more pay, or better benefits? Pick one and bring it up at the end of the meeting. Mention that you believe you are performing above and beyond, and you are asking for this in return.
Repeat this process at your next periodic meeting. The truth about those difficult conversations around perks or compensation is that you have to have them more than once to see real results. If your boss knows you’re serious, he’s more inclined to work with you.
Problem: You’re Burnt Out
Solution: Ask to Telecommute
If actually going in to the office every day is what’s making you cringe, and you can perform at least some of your work remotely, consider asking to telecommute. It’s a great way to get yourself physically out of a stressful workplace, plus get a couple more hours in the day (good-bye, rush hour traffic).
Think your boss won’t go for it? Here's a little known secret about telecommuting: As a general rule, it cuts business expenses. Plus, if you would be more productive—and more sane—if you telecommuted even once a week, it’s a win-win for your company.
So why not give your boss a proposal he can't refuse? Ask for a meeting, present the facts as to why you would be more productive at home, then ask him to give it a trial period. He may just surprise you.
Problem: You’re Bored
Solution: Take on New Projects
If you’re bored, underutilized, or not feeling challenged with your current workload, see how you can shake things up.
No matter what the size of your company, there are bound to be some different tasks or projects that can play to your abilities. Think about your core strengths, or areas you’d like to build upon, and see if there are new projects, either within your team or in other departments, that sound exciting to you.
Then, sit down with your boss and tell him that you’re ready to expand upon your current responsibilities. If you want to continue working for him, ask if you can take on a new project. Or, if you really don’t see a future within your current department, ask for his help in exploring other projects or roles within your company. Generally, if you’ve been in your role for about a year, you can move around without guilt. This is a natural part of moving through your career, and a good boss should support you if you ask.
A word of parting advice: You always have options. Whether you stay at your job or leave it, you are the one in charge of your career, and if you go about it with kindness, firmness, and professionalism, you can rally your boss and others to support you.