How to thrive in a less than ideal job

Due to situation, location or circumstance, there are many of us who don't end up in our dream job role.

For example, I have taken on administrative roles, bar work, cafe jobs - all of which were a means to generate an income whilst at university, but hardly my future career choices!

Whilst working in such roles may seem unfulfilling, there are many ways to use the situation to your advantage and develop beyond a less than idea job!

1. Fulfillment doesn't have to come from your job alone

I know a couple of people who simply see their job as a way of filling their time in an interesting manner. They take pride in their work, however they do not make their day job the source of their personal fulfillment. 

In fact many of them have interests outside of work which give them immense satisfaction and a sense of purpose. This ranges from playing in a band, painting and crafting, even writing a secret novel (which I am dying to read, hint hint!!)

Human beings are capable of so much more than just economic output! You are not singularly defined by the job you do, there are a multitude of activities and interests that you can pursue outside of your work.

I know many bloggers who follow this principle - as their writing fulfills a creative need which is not met by the demands of their job. Blogging is just the start of the multitude of activities and interests you could pursue!

Here is my short, but by no means comprehensive list of ideas!

- Writing: poetry, fiction, blogging, journaling, 

- Sport & fitness: join the gym and set yourself challenges, try a team sport, hiking, climbing

- Creating: Crafting, sewing, crocheting, writing and playing music

- Join a club for an even more social experience!

- Gardening

- Research a particular topic of interest, write up and record your findings!

2. Ask for more

A lot of my frustration in some of my less than desirable jobs came from simple boredom and a feeling of powerlessness.

In any workplace, there are always more tasks than time, any manager will be acutely aware of this and should be receptive to any help offered! A good manager should also be keen to develop the skills of their team and help people move up the ranks!

If you are after more responsibility - identify a discreet task or area which you could take on, e.g. cashing up, managing a social media account or ordering stock. 

Talk to your manager and state that you have an interest in taking on this area of responsibility, go prepared with an action plan and details of any training that you feel would be useful. If they are hesitant, ask for a trial period of two weeks, which gives you time to prove yourself and also gives them the option of saying no, without having to say it there and then!

If you are looking to develop your role and move up the ranks, it is worth speaking again to your manager/supervisor and stating clearly that this is something you are interested in. This is so important, as so often in life it is a case of don't ask, don't get!

Ask them about the steps you need to take to get to where you want to be - e.g. experience requirements, training courses, qualification. On the back of this you can then ask to be put forward for any relevant training courses.

Even if you don't want to stay within the organisation or sector, it is worth getting as much training as possible when it is on offer! Firstly it gives the organisation a chance to impress you and hopefully keep you on in a more suited role. Secondly you can use your training to help you appear more attractive to your ideal employer!

3. Develop skills outside your job

If you are feeling trapped in a certain job role or industry, this can be a great way of moving on to something more enjoyable and relevant to you.

Blogging again is a great way to develop transferable skills outside of work and develop your portfolio, especially if you are looking at going into journalism, copywriting or marketing.

Learning a language is also a great way of really boosting your CV and can be done in the evenings. If you are worried about the cost of traditional courses, look into online resources and also consider looking for a language trade with a foreign exchange student (you help them learn English and they help you learn their native language.)

Volunteering is also another great way to develop different skills and boost your CV. What is great about this is that you are also often helping deserving organisations and contributing to the work they do! 

 Many organisations have the capacity to allow you to volunteer at the weekend, which will enable you to continue in your job and earn whilst you are developing.

When you are looking for a volunteer role, ask about the training opportunities the organisation can provide, as you may be surprised at how much they can offer!

4. Finally, remember that this doesn't have to be forever!

If you are sure this is not the job for you, create an action plan and a time frame for moving on.

Identify where you want to be and research how to get there. Don't be afraid to reach out to people in similar roles and ask them for advice on bagging your dream role!

Having a time frame is also important as it will focus your mind and efforts on a tangible goal, e.g. in six months I want to have the skills needed to start applying for graduate roles.


I hope these points provide practical and actionable advice for anyone feeling stuck in a job rut!

If you have any more advice, please do let me know! 

You can email me - bethan@bethanvincent.com

Or tweet me @bethanvincent