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  • Writer's pictureMike Hanna

What to do if You're Stuck in a Job You Don't Like

Okay, so we’ve all been in a place like this. When you’re a teenager, it’s easy to throw off the apron and walk away from the restaurant. There are a million jobs like that everywhere (at least, that’s what you think as you walk away). But when you’re older, you can’t just call it quits. You might have greater financial responsibilities like a mortgage, car loan, or a looming retirement. You might have other people you need to provide for. Whatever the case may be, sometimes you cannot walk away from a software sales job you don’t like. So what do you do?

  • Make YOU time.

  • Pinpoint what the problem is.

  • Celebrate the pros, and minimize the cons.

  • Work on yourself.

  • Find something better.

Let's take a look at them all now.

Make YOU time.

Software sales is a higher energy job with lots of competition. You might be placing too many demands on yourself as you reach for the best sales metrics. Perhaps it’s time to make a little time for you. Can you take a step back and sacrifice some professional development for much needed personal time? Perhaps there is someone you can speak to who can assess if you're putting too much into the game, and if you can tone it down in a certain area for the sake of your health and happiness on the job.

Keep in mind that making you-time to recuperate is not about using up your accrued vacation time for a one-off, one-week getaway. Self care time is an ongoing process that might involve an hour of quiet reading every evening, or a weekly hike. It might take a few weeks or even a few months for the positive effects to show. But as it turns out, your dislike for your current workplace or situation might just be coming from the fact that you’re burned out. Of course, there may still be things that bother you Monday after a weekend of kayaking, which means you need to...

Pinpoint what the problem is.

It can be easy to roll all your frustrations with work into one big snowball of unhappiness. But you can also sit down and write out what is actually bothering you. Are the inside sales reps passing you unqualified leads? Is a particular sales engineer ignoring your calls and responding to emails three days late? Do you find that you and your sales manager just don’t have personalities that click, or (if you’re the sales manager) that a certain rep on your team is not pulling their weight?

Figure out what’s bothering you, and then figure out what you can control—and what you can’t. You might be able to talk with that sales rep about how to bring in better leads. Maybe you can tell that sales engineer that your clients need more timely communication, or bring it up with your own manager and see if you can work with someone else. Perhaps you can ask to be switched to a different team or discuss with a fellow manager some strategies for motivating your sales reps to be team players. Of course, there are some things that you can't control...but you can control how much they bother you. Which brings us to our next point:

Celebrate the pros, and minimize the cons.

I don’t mean put up posters of your favorite athletes (although that can help). What I mean is making a list of what you like about work, and what you don’t. Of course, if you leveraged the point above, you should already have a list of things you don’t like. Now it’s time to find some positive points. Believe it or not, in most cases, if you work in North America as a software sales professional there should be some good points to a job you dislike, even if they’re hard to find. Clean workplace with electricity and running water? Check! (If not, please contact me right away.) Reasonable compensation? Check! (I’m hoping that one is true for you). Close proximity to lunch places you like? Check!

Whatever the case may be, stretch yourself and find good points. Some good points may be hidden, such as the fact that even if you hate the corporate culture of your workplace, at least it provides you with a social outlet to mingle with other human beings. But try to find at least ten. Maybe your job is located in a city that's great for life outside of work. Meditate on those good points and be grateful for them, and you will magically find that you start to find more (there’s no magic: psychology tells us that we can rewire our brains).

Work on yourself.

When you’re becoming the best possible you that you can be, it becomes harder for external factors to pull you down. Call it selfish or self-absorbed (it's not) but it sure works! Get books about sales that help you turn into the best software sales rep you can be. Get books about personal development that help you overcome life issues you may face like anger, unhealthy eating habits, negative relationships, or limiting beliefs. Whatever it is, just grow and grow some more.

Amazingly, as you turn inward and focus on yourself, you will find that the things people do and say outside of you won’t bother you as much. One reason is that development builds your confidence, and that all the work issues stemming from a lack of belief in yourself will now be weakened. Another reason is that people can just tell when someone is supercharging their own life. Level up! They’ll respect you more, and you’ll have more patience for them, which smooths over a lot of interpersonal work related issues.

Find something better.

And of course, you saw this one coming. At the end of the day, you should still not put all your eggs into one basket—that is, the basket of staying at a job you don’t like. While you can work on yourself, maximize the pros, address the problems, and take self care time to recuperate, there may be some deeper issues at play for which these solutions are just a Band-Aid. Perhaps you really deserve better compensation. Perhaps the corporate culture is not a good fit for you. Perhaps you really should be somewhere else in the sales cycle.

Whatever the case may be, disliking your job with any level of intensity may mean it’s time to talk to a software sales recruiter. They can take the burden of a job search off your shoulders, so that can be running in the background while you continue to make the most of your current workplace. You might find that if you take the job search burden on yourself, it will become another thing you dislike about life, and just another source of constant stress.

I’ve been a software sales headhunter for almost four decades, and I know the industry well. If you think the time might be right for a career change, but you want to remain in software sales, send me an email at and let’s discuss where you want to go. Alternatively, if what you don’t like about work is the dynamic of the team you manage, or you’re a growing startup with a lack of talent, I can fill the gap there as well. Let’s connect!

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