What You Can Learn From Awful Job Experiences

You can come away with something positive from just about any terrible experience you endure. That includes nightmare jobs that leave you feeling bitter and exploited.

A post at The Financial Blogger outlines lessons gleaned from working at bad jobs:

* You have only yourself to blame. Sure, you may have a terrible boss and waste your days doing unfulfilling tasks for laughably little money, but no one’s forcing you to work there. Decisions you’ve made led you to the point at which you arrived, and you’ll have to start making better ones to get out.

* You can learn what you need to learn. If a lack of a degree, technical knowledge or the right connections is holding you back from working a job you covet, you can use your dissatisfaction to motivate you to do whatever it takes to position yourself for something better. Example: Use your disgust of with your job to motivate you to take classes at night that will boost your options.

* A poor attitude does nothing for you. It’s easy to roll your eyes, grouse to co-workers, do half-hearted work and watch the clock, but you’ll only make yourself more miserable. Staying positive and giving your best effort will pay dividends, if not in this job then the next.

What I Learned From Working Crappy Jobs [The Financial Blogger]

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  1. brinks says:

    “but no one’s forcing you to work there.”

    This was clearly written by someone who has never lost a job. When I lost mine a year and a half ago, I applied to EVERYTHING – stuff I was overqualified for, under-qualified for, and everything in between. Hardly anyone called me back, and I sat idle for almost three months. I had to take the first thing that came my way, and I was stuck there for three months until I finally found something better. I’d consider that being “forced” to work there.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Maybe they meant “no one is forcing you to pay your bills.” That sort of makes more sense. After all it was the “decisions you’ve made” that keep you schlepping back to that horrible desk day after day.

      For the record I think this post reads rather state-the-obvious-ly.

      • moore850 says:

        Yeah, stupid decisions like wanting to have shelter, food, water, clothing… what the heck are we all thinking?

        • crispyduck13 says:

          We’re such selfish assholes aren’t we?

          • tooluser says:

            Yes, you are.

            There are hundreds of thousands of people on the street who do not have any of the things you listed. And yet they survivie each day,

            You are spoiled and selfish and your attitude sucks. Try helping others sometime.

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              You took a comment that had nothing to do with homeless people and made it about homeless people.Yes, we should all help those in need. But this article isn’t about that. Many of us are fortunate to have jobs. That doesn’t mean we’re insensitive to the need of those less fortunate; it means that we’re in a better position to afford the basic human needs for health, like adequate shelter and nutritious food.

    • AldisCabango says:

      There is a difference between having to take a job and staying in a crappy job without making any effort change the situation.

      If you hate your job and it is causing stress and you never make an effort to change, then you only have your self to blame.

    • Harvey The Wonder Hamster says:

      But but but… BOOOTSTRAAAAAAAPSSSSS!!!!!

    • cowboyesfan says:

      A lot of people are forced to stay for health benefits.

      • BennieHannah says:

        Yeah, whenever I hear a candidate talk about “free markets” I wonder — what about free markets for employees? Where’s the free market when we can’t negotiate for better pay, or venture out to open our own business or join a start-up or stay at home with a child or an aging parent because we FEAR LOSING OUR HEALTH INSURANCE FOR OUR FAMILIES? How is that “free market”? I guess “free market” is one of those phrases that mean what we don’t think they mean.

        • TouchMyMonkey says:

          That’s what labor unions are for. Too bad so many of your cow-orkers are too brainless to realize that Fox News is lying to them about organized labor.

    • Lt. Coke says:

      The only thing I hate more than that phrase is ‘If you’re having trouble finding a job, move!’ Go fuck yourselves. I’m not spending a huge amount of money and time moving away from my friends and family to work some shitty 9-5 for minimum wage. Eat a bag of dicks, etc.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        There are areas of Florida for one where there are employers & others expecting you to drive upwards of 30 miles oneway for jobs under 10$ an hour. and there stretches of highway at rush hour that take 45 minutes to travel 3 miles. So is that time,gas and wear & tear on your car worth it, heck no.

        There are also employers that won’t pay milage at all or wait until you hit like 50 miles then you start getting milage. Playing nomad or gypsy really doesn’t even for alot of legitimate contractors trying to follow work around the country. For one your certifications and licenses from old employers and locales might not apply. And the costs of moving will catch up unless your pay covers inconvenience.

    • smo0 says:

      This article is shit… however… I will share one lesson that’s helped me forrest gump through mindless work.

      Even if your job is shoveling shit – best the best shit shoveler you can be.
      Yes a positive attitude helps.
      I pretend I work for me, and really in my mind I AM working for me… that helps me keep going….

    • tooluser says:

      And what did your excuses get you?

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Three months working at a job you hated? Just three months? That’s all?

      Dude, I was in the ARMY. That institution is chock full of sh!tty jobs, including the one I did for various brainless lieutenants (West Point is for people who can work 18 hours a day, not people who have high IQs) for two decades. Three months ain’t sh1t. That’s barely a TDY trip.

      But seriously, this is the reason I’ve gone back to graduate school. I’m about to refine my strategery to minimize the number of credits I take in the last year, just so it won’t cost me as much if I jump ship. Not that my current job sucks as much as my last one were I wore the green suit. Just sayin’.

    • econobiker says:

      “but no one’s forcing you to work there.”

      Yeah, try to tell that to the ex-spouse who considers child support a method to maintain a lifestyle level. The courts (ie judges) don’t want to hear that you’ve quit your high paying but stressful job for a lower paying but fulfilling and non-stressful position. Judges don’t seem to fully grasp the recent general economic situation for regular wage earners since they are gov’t employees surrounded by gov’t employees.

  2. donovanr says:

    That age old manager’s expression, “My only regret was not firing him sooner.” Applies to most of my jobs. “My only regret was not quitting sooner.”
    If I started telling horror stories I would only look dumb for not having quit on the spot. For some reason it is too easy to put your head in the sand and somehow pretend the unreasonable boss/pay/coworker/commute/etc is not so unreasonable.

    • ARP says:

      Yep- When I look back on my career, I can remember the exact moment at my previous jobs, when my gut told me to leave, but I didn’t because: things will get better, they told me I’m in line for a promotion, just be patient, just work harder, etc.

      I need to listen to my gut more. Right now it’s telling me that I want Garrett’s popcorn.

    • kobresia says:

      So true.

      The sad thing is, while I’ve resigned from a few jobs when they just became painfully terrible and I had little other choice, the couple I was let go from are the ones I know I really should’ve broken-up with before they broke-up with me. Long before they broke-up with me, in fact. Looking back, getting the boot from them was the best thing for all involved, and I really wish they’d punted me a bit sooner so I wouldn’t have wasted the extra months or years of my life, losing my hair and just generally feeling bad about where I was at.

  3. BorkBorkBork says:

    I like number three: “A poor attitude does nothing for you.” Every situation is what you make of it.

    I like to look on the bright side (which I know is hard for most Consumerists here) – while your job isn’t the best (mine isn’t either), remember that there are people worse off than you.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Exactly, not to mention that a bad attitude will simply make it worse for you, and those around you.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      When I partially severed two fingers on my right hand, seeing a guy who’d cut off his thumb in triage ahead of me didn’t lessen my pain a bit.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I remind myself that I am in a relatively safe, warm office with my behind in a chair, while I could have a job hand digging up a broken sewer line in subfreezing weather, standing thigh deep in partially frozen sewage. That usually brings me back from any really depressing thoughts I might have about my current job.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The fact that some people are stuck just eating bread doesn’t make that shit sandwich any more appealing.

  4. sponica says:

    anyone have advice for when your most recent (and former) employer KEEPS making the front page of the local news due to lawsuits filed by former clients?

    I was there when the bad press started, quit when they fired my boss (and a couple weeks before they laid off everyone INCLUDING MY REPLACEMENT) so the state gave me UI

    these aren’t my former clients, but they were clients of the program where I worked just in a different location…

    • unpolloloco says:

      Skill: knows when to quit. Say in your cover letter that you realized the ship was sinking, so you left before you went with it. You learned X, Y, and Z and will be better able to identify issues that require immediate action.

    • who? says:

      Having been in that situation…I worked for one of the many large companies that imploded in very public stock scandals about 10 years ago. My advice? You don’t work there anymore. You saw what was happening, got a bad feeling, and didn’t want any of it, so you quit. My experience has been that nobody holds that against you. They’re curious, but it having worked there won’t be poisonous to your career unless you were personally involved in the problems.

      10 years later, occasionally someone reading my resume will make the connection. Mostly, though, people forgot as soon as it was out of the news.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    “but no one’s forcing you to work there”

    What a stupid comment. In this economy, with so few jobs, being stuck in a hated job is NOT unusual. If you are not independently wealthy, you ARE forced to work and often put up with horrendous crap for a paycheck.

    How many women have put up with sexual harassment and said nothing while they looked for another job, living in fear of being fired for speaking up. (And how many harassers use the desperation of the current economy to take advantage of those without money and power)?

    How many workers get cheated out of overtime and vacation, put up with being forced to work off the clock (coughWalmartcough) in order to maintain their meager paycheck?

    What I have learned from (past) awful job experiences it to be grateful. No job is perfect, but I’ve already had the worst job in my career, so it helps put in perspective the minor day to day frustrations in subsequent positions

    • brinks says:

      Thank you. I can’t stand people who still think you can just quit a job when it goes downhill. You have to take what you can get these days and if you complain, you’re easily replaced.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Exactly!!! I have been miserable since our company was sold to another company, and I’ve looked and looked for work. I’m not quitting this job to take a huge cut in pay, like down to minimum wage, just for happiness. I have to buy groceries, gas, fuel oil, electricity, and I like having insurance. I didn’t make the decision to work for this type of company, it was put on me when the original company which I loved working for was sold to someone else.

        So, I continue to look for another job while putting on my big girl panties and going to work every day, on time, and doing the tasks that I’m assigned.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        So when politicians say: if you’re unemployed, stop complaining, it’s your own fault….. , I’m guessing they are NOT wining your vote?

    • kobresia says:

      I think too many people rationalize things like “bad job is better than no job” and “might not be able to get another job” and “a new job might be even worse than I have now” and so on as they refuse to make a change. They all can be valid complaints, of course, and one has to make sure that they’re not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, but clinging to them without trying to make a change (which is probably more what the author is getting at) is just going to result in deepening disgruntledness.

      One thing that is more true now than ever is that it’s easier to get a new job when you still have a job, so if something is not working out so well from your perspective, it’s best to get that job search on and maybe take a chance on something else. If you’re unhappy, odds are good others are noticing (such as your boss) and you might be one of the first to be laid off if it comes to cuts.

      Also, you do have only yourself to blame for sticking with a crap job. Bad attitudes invariably come from bad feelings like being underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, passed-over for promotion, all that sort of thing. Either love the job for what it is (“a job that you are currently employed in”) or work hard to get the hell out of it. It might be hard to do so, but I think even trying will help keep one’s spirits up that there may be an exit ahead.

  6. StarKillerX says:

    “A poor attitude does nothing for you. It’s easy to roll your eyes, grouse to co-workers, do half-hearted work and watch the clock, but you’ll only make yourself more miserable. Staying positive and giving your best effort will pay dividends, if not in this job then the next.”

    This is an excellent point, I’ve long said that work, by it’s very nature, sucks and that most people could easily think of something they would rather be doing but making yourself, and everyone around you even more miserable will simply make things worse.

    • Snowblind says:

      Slight overkill, since he was referring to a much more serious situation than losing a job:

      The last of human freedoms – the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.
      Viktor E. Frankl

  7. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    It’s easy to roll your eyes, grouse to co-workers, do half-hearted work and watch the clock, but you’ll only make yourself more miserable. Staying positive and giving your best effort will pay dividends, if not in this job then the next.

    Bullcrap. I once had a job in state government, and the more work you did the more heat you got. If you were lazy, just showed up, did the minimum, then you were not only much more successful in the organization, you were happier because your work was much easier and more leisurely and you got paid the same (or possibly more because you were more likely to get a promotion).

    It was not fulfilling to be like that, but the job wasn’t going to be fulfilling either way. Poor attitude was expected and even rewarded.

    • ARP says:

      It’s the same in the private industry. There’s a lot of examples:

      1) They guy who asks for input from 5 different people, so he doesn’t have to do anything gets more kudos because he gets more visibility and people like to feel wanted.
      2) People who take the credit of others and get promoted.
      3) People who don’t do their real job and only work on special projects that get them visibility/recognition.
      4) People who act helpless/stupid or hide behind some idiotic process or policy, not to do anything.
      5) People who don’t explain what they do/how they do it, in order to keep their value.

      Yes, sometimes they are found out. Often not. Just as often they’re not found out for years, and after they’ve been promoted.

    • Lt. Coke says:

      It’s the same in the private industry.

  8. Tyanna says:

    You only have yourself to blame, and no one is forcing you to be there huh?

    Apparently he’s in a better field of work than I am. I had an awesome job that I loved going to every day, then the economy took it’s turn to Shitsville. The company fired half it’s staff, overworked the rest of us and implemented a horrific practice of calling out people who didn’t put in 50 hour weeks. We were salary so didn’t get paid for that OT, we didn’t know when we’d lose our jobs, and all of us hated working there.

    It took me 4 months to find a new job, and I needed to go to a different city to find it.

  9. acatchyscreenname says:

    Sure, “no one” is forcing you to work there… Except for possibly your children and spouse, who keep demanding that you put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Damn selfish of them, not putting your interests first.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. The bottom line is that most families need two incomes now, and even if you could survive on one income, you couldn’t necessarily put any money in savings or build an emergency fund. It’s hard for someone to quit their job when both incomes are necessary to be remotely financially healthy.

      • Alter_ego says:

        also, a lot of people don’t even have the potential for a second income. I don’t need two incomes to survive, but I live alone, so I certainly need the one.

  10. Cat says:

    no one’s forcing you to work there

    Yes, yes, I see what you’re saying. It’s all my fault.

    My job sucked this bad before new management took control, and I can find a job anywhere these days.

  11. u1itn0w2day says:

    You need to learn period. Even if you hate the job you have to learn alot of procedures, policies and HR policies related to that job. If nothing else what you learn on one job will give you perspective on another. I mean really set some aside to go over company policy, look for internet postings good or bad and try to follow the company in the news. Knowledge is power on any job even if it’s how to gracefully exit or deal with a butt hole boss.

  12. LadyTL says:

    Odd, he recommends doing your best in a job but that is what got me forced to quit. Showing up established workers who don’t want to actually work just gets you marked as a troublemaker.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I got chastised for having a 7 year perfect attendance streak long before it ended. I got questioned by fellow employees for working after lunch or not stopping work for the week by late Fri MORNING. I also got questioned why I was going to school part time at night. A non college supervisor actually started scheduling me shifts that conflicted with school on purpose. I already had a degree, not much really but the old was scared crapless even though their wealth of experience could walk circles around me.

      • tooluser says:

        So why did you choose to work for such a horrible company? Was it because you didn’t know any better? When you found out, why did you keep working there?

        This will not end well for you.

    • tinyninja says:

      This right here.

  13. Conformist138 says:

    Interesting combo: Think positive and remember, the fact that your employer has keep all employee wages stagnant for half a decade is entirely your fault. Just do extra work without getting more money and be happy about it!

  14. BrownEyes says:

    Yeah, nobody forced me to work there except the lack of other, better jobs and that I had to put food on the table and clothes on my kids’ backs with no help from anyone else. What a dumb article.

  15. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    I am lucky to get paid fairly to work. Some people do not even have that option. Everything else is gravy.

  16. moore850 says:

    This is an extremely theoretical point of view. As pointed out by practically every comment, in practice these suggestions at best may not pan out as expected, and at worst are literally the opposite of what you should do based on pretty much everyone’s personal experience in that situation. I was going to post my own experiences with this same thing in line with what everyone else is saying, but since we all agree and we certainly weren’t all working my exact job, doesn’t that pretty well negate the article’s premise on a practical level across the board?

  17. Dallas_shopper says:

    Whoever wrote that needs Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop cleanse to give his digestive system a break because he is quite clearly and pathologically full of shit.

  18. km9v says:

    You learn that you should have gone to college. Did take me long to figure that out.

  19. Firevine says:

    What if you like your job, bust your hump, stay late every day, your boss is awesome and actually appreciates your hard work and rewards you for it, but, you keep getting stuck with unbelievably lazy and stupid coworkers, who are utterly incompetent and completely helpless, even though they have done this longer than I have? It took me five hours to drink my morning coffee, because my coworker was just bumbling around being useless while I did everything and had to babysit her for a bit. I really think my boss is trying to sabotage his own business sometimes with these people.

    I swear, this job would be awesome if I could just clone myself. I don’t even get paid that much, but I like it otherwise. I really wish the guy that runs our other location didn’t live so far away, because he’s great and if he worked here we’d be knocking it out of the park every day.

  20. Cat says:

    It’s posts like these that bring out my inner Lewis Black.

  21. kataisa says:

    What did I learn from awful job experiences?

    From lousy managers I learned how not to treat customers and employees.

  22. aja175 says:

    “A poor attitude does nothing for you”
    This is the best piece of advise in this article.

  23. u1itn0w2day says:

    One of the biggest things I learned early on is that nothing last forever. And ANYONE that thinks, says or promises that is either ignorant or huge I mean huge LIAR.

    I’ve had too many supervisors and management say things like this is a great CAREER, they’ll NEVER lay off, you have nothing to worry about, what else are they going to do, who are they going to get etc . After being layed off several times myself and working for multiple organizations where management has gone through downsizing & restructuring I literally laugh at phrases like ‘career here’ or ‘this is a great company to work for-forever’. NO ONE, not even a senior executive should even lead someone to think they might have a ‘career’ at their company, NO ONE.

    But it is this mindset that all you have to do is survive or survive the current crap storm and you’ll be alright that leads to entitlement. Because when someone puts up with too much crap many start building resentment and distain for the job and other employees. So rather than leave or try something else the workplace becomes a game of getting away with as much as possible-”I’ll show them”. And includes doing as litttle work as possible. Management falls into this trap as well, they figure they’re being crapped on from above so they’ll crap on you.

    This means you don’t favors that might take YEARS to get recipricated because YOU or others may not be around or in a position to anything. You might even have to remind a supervisor of this on occassion. I had one job where they were giving out comp time instead of overtime less than three months before layoffs. By shear luck the supervisor made sure we got it within a week because he knew he might not get it either.

    It all goes back to you educating yourself academically AND about your company/workplace. There should be no surprises.

  24. u1itn0w2day says:

    No one might be forcing you to work there but the majority of people are working somewhere because they have to and not want to. Those who love it or found a niche are in the minority.

    Ignore the platitudes and just do the job as best you can including an honest full days work.

  25. framitz says:

    What I learned from the article, is that the original author is clueless for the most part.

  26. Buckus says:

    I learned that telemarketing is not for me. Glengarry Glenross is a fine movie, but phone sales is not my gig.

  27. Piddles says:

    The first one, “No one is forcing you to work there” always seems like a really simplistic thing to say. Think about all the people that have had jobs they can’t quit since the industrial revolution. Do you think all those factory workers making w/e could just quit their jobs without repercussions? They’d be out on the street with their 8 relatives. It’s not any less true here. So yeah no one is forcing anyone to keep their crummy job. However they probably like having a place to live and food more then they like the satisfaction of being out of bad employment situation. So technically no one person is forcing the issues, it’s more like all the other factors in life are like basic needs because the real world doesn’t put you on waivers when you lose your job.

  28. BettyCrocker says:

    I’m inclined to just tell the author “Fvck your platitudes!” and leave it at that.

  29. Saberpilot says:

    So having to take a (borderline abusive) full time job to get out of an abusive home situation, where I’ve been trying to get out for three years… is somehow my fault? When there are no jobs and I’ve done the best I can to get out/get into something else?

    It’d be nice if I could quit. But I don’t have any family to fall back on/anyone to support me should I want to quit. And that’s something a lot of people seem to take for granted when looking for jobs/etc.

  30. Mellowtunes says:

    I agree with all the points above. My bad job experience also taught me how to be a great manager by having a horrible one.

  31. u1itn0w2day says:

    Everybody is working in a job for things other than or along with money. Everybody has a different agenda. Some just want to get done precisely on time so they can pursue their outside activities and obligations. Some are building resumes. Some are there for the pot of gold ie overtime, bonuses, raises. Some are building a network. Some want to socialize.

    Some are strictly there for a paycheck. But many are incompetent people there for a pay check. Some treat it like a job and others treat it like a career. I think people expect too much out of their JOB. They don’t even know wether they are there for a career or A job. Problem is most companies and HRs want you to treat their JOB like a career. But learn to differentiate exactly why others are in that job. And figure out is your position/title a JOB or on your career path. Don’t try to live your life vicariously through your JOB. In the end it’s just ‘a’ paycheck unless you are just dying to volunteer.

  32. RvLeshrac says:

    “Get a fucking job, you lazy-ass hippie.” “The job you have is your own fault, no one is forcing you to work there.”

  33. Lisa W says:

    Common sense…. Too bad not everyone has it!