Looking for a Job While Having a Job. Why Are We Never Happy?

So your job hunting was successful, and you got that job you wanted. Things go great up until now— Eek, except that they don’t. You get bored/unsatisfied/unfulfilled by it within months. Back to job hunting, it is! You try to justify your decision with many excuses on why you’re not right for that place (or why that place isn’t right for you), but then you realize this is not the first time you’ve been there. You tend to change jobs a lot, and that’s a fact. If you struggle to find a connection between the reasons you started looking for a new job while already having one, then read on.

Here are some possible reasons why we’re never happy with our current jobs:

It’s not us, it’s them

They don’t appreciate us

We often realize we’re stuck in a dead-end job when we are offered no appreciation or acknowledgment for our work. As a result, we feel undervalued. When we work harder than most, we feel appraisal is due. A promotion or increase in pay would be welcome, but we’d also be satisfied with just acknowledgment for the profit we’ve brought the company. When this is overlooked, we don’t feel motivated to do more for the company, so we go and look elsewhere.

The thing is, we like to be respected and we want people to be impressed with us. It’s called praise addiction. We’ve been raised to get a good grade after we study hard, and that is passed on the workplace: we like a reward of some sort for our contribution when we know we deserve it.

The environment is toxic & affecting our mental health

Work stress is normal and exists in every job, we know that. But some work environments can be straight on toxic. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology shows that incivility in the workplace affects our mental health negatively. They examined the correlation between toxicity in the workplace and symptoms of insomnia, which is a common symptom of depression. This toxicity also stimulates negative rumination, or the ‘mentally replaying of an event or disturbing interaction with a co-worker long after the workday has ended.’

Further research has found that toxic work environments are associated with increased depression, substance use, and health issues among employees. Organizations suffer from this as well, though. What happens, as a result, is: productivity is decreased, lower levels of employee commitment and more people quitting. To be frank, writing that resignation letter when circumstances are not satisfying seems like the best things to do in these cases; after you’ve found another job, of course.

We don’t share the same values with the company, or they aren’t respectful of our beliefs

Among signs one is in a dead-end job, Forbes also lists misalignment of the employee’s and the firm’s values. As they quote a national workplace expert saying, “Maybe there are cultural differences; clashes in environmental aspects of its operations; civic responsibility or work ethic issues, et cetera.” If both sides know that there is a mismatch and there is no way of meeting halfway, then the best thing for the employee to do is to start searching for a different job with hope to be a better fit there.

It’s not them, it’s us

We’re too ambitious

We’ve taken what we could out of the current job and now we’ve gotten too comfortable and bored. We don’t feel like an important asset of the team/department anymore. Our thoughts and contributions are not being valued enough. We want to go somewhere where our voices are heard, and we have a say on making decisions since we know we ARE competent enough.

We’ve made it clear we want a higher position, but we’ve been passed over for promotion before, and don’t want to stick around waiting for that to happen anymore. Not when there might be a company we feel better in. We just want to be compensated fairly, after all.

Or sometimes, the company is not doing well, and we don’t want to watch it sink. They are not being transparent with the employees and don’t ensure us we won’t lose our jobs. So, we feel the necessity of starting to look for another job. Just so we have a backup plan if something happens.

We can’t stay in a place we’re not growing. Constant self-improvement is too important

Another reason for us to grow cold on our current workplaces is that we don’t see any opportunities for growth. Everyday tasks seem like a burden, and going to work doesn’t excite us one bit. We have offered to take on more challenging assignments and want increased responsibility. Work doesn’t offer a change in routine; it’s become mechanical.

Moreover, our skills are not being used to their full advantage. After not being listened multiple times, at some point we realize that the effort and energy could be better placed towards searching for a new job.

We haven’t yet found our career path

In these cases it’s all on us, the workplace has absolutely no fault for our dissatisfaction. It’s us who have not yet determined what we want to do with our careers. We’re just juggling job after job to see which sticks… only to find out that finding one’s dream job is harder that one thinks.

We want to find our happy (work)place

This happens often with newly graduated students who have recently joined the workforce. They’ve now stepped into the big bad world of “doing the things you don’t have an option not to.” They know that’s how everyone starts, and your first job rarely coincides with your dream job aspirations. So they’re en route to finding that dream job to which they’ll go willingly every morning. As the saying goes, You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.

On the other hand, there are also cases when people don’t find their passion until later stages.  As a middle-aged worker tells of his career journey,

‘I’ve worked as a teacher, in the film industry, financial planning, social services, and now as a software tester. I do well in roles but get bored and want to try something different. The problem is, at 44, I haven’t found my calling. I don’t want to keep switching jobs and doom myself to a lifetime of entry-level employment.’

Solution: Finding one’s dream job is often a complicated path. Career manager Peter Caven suggests to reflect on the jobs we have had and to identify the skills required in each. He continues,

‘Identify the skills that, when exercised, put you in “the zone” – you were fully absorbed and focused, time stood still and you were energized. Identify roles that require those skills and leverage your skills to get those jobs.’

We lack intrinsic motivation

Sometimes when we feel miserable in a job, it’s because we lack intrinsic motivation. This internal drive for work does not come naturally to us and we don’t know why. Well, this even seems to be a reason why millennials get fired. Not being motivated turns out to be the reason we experience sadness and confusion in the workplace and also why we don’t find satisfaction and success in it. It might be our fault for this, but when we’re not happy, we get ourselves back in the job market to search for a job in which we hope to flourish.

We want a job title that people are impressed with

Sometimes, if all you care about is a job title, once you get it you will not be happy. Even when you become CEO, it’s still won’t be enough. That praise addiction mentioned before comes in again. We like to impress people and we like to be liked; it gives us a temporary feeling of happiness.

The problem is we end up making career choices just so we can impress other people. We might quit a perfectly good job, just because we want a higher position in another company. We make wrong career moves just for the sake of other people, and we only find out what we’ve done after the hype of validation lowers and we’re left with a job position we don’t feel capable of. We need to always remember that our job title doesn’t define us and we shouldn’t feel pressured to do what doesn’t suit us in the long run.

We actually are happy, we just want to see what’s out there.

There’s even an article called Why You Should Look for a New Job While You’re Happy in Your Current One. The truth is, one never knows what tomorrow might bring. Even though we’re happy with a job right now, things might change. That awesome boss may get transferred, resign, or retired. Your department may go bankrupt. Good times usually do not last forever, ‘so by going on interviews and keeping your skills sharp, you’ll have an active, robust network to tap into (and you might even find a role you like).’ Moreover, it’s a good way to check out what you’re worth and what your options are.

In the end, most jobs are just jobs, and although we shouldn’t settle until we find the right one, there will always something we won’t be satisfied with. But then again, work defines us as people and when we aren’t happy at work, other areas of our life suffer, too.

Dafina Zymeri, SAHMjobs

Dafina Zymeri is a writer for SAHMjobs.net. SAHMjobs is a job portal designed to bring together stay at home moms and recruiters. The platform also brings helpful articles in the Blog section regarding mothers who want to return to the workforce.