Stuck: Deciding Between Resignation, Perseverance and Acceptance in Your Career

I worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years before transitioning into career coaching. I did not make many job changes because I did very extremely well during the boom times. It was only during the busts in the economic cycles when clients disappeared (and a lot of my income because firms weren’t hiring) that I changed my professional employers. That included divorcing a business partner, closing a business and joining the first search firm I worked for in 20 years and then the few job changes I made.

As I look back at it, I realize that the people I was recruiting often made a smarter decision than I did. I looked at things purely from the financial side. How different my career and life might have been had I made had I not been resigned to tolerate feeling miserable as a condition of my work and gone out and changed jobs more frequently.

Are you tolerating things in your career?

Is that true of you, too? Are you tolerating things in your career because you have become resigned that this is how it is everywhere?

I was coaching someone not long ago who struggled with their travel schedule. 25% travel became 50% travel and soon after 100% travel with no end in sight. He rarely saw his children, his wife treated him like he was a stranger. “Only three more years until I make Director,” he told me as we plotted his next course of action.

“What happens if it takes four years or five years? What then?”

“It won’t.”

“But what happens if it does?”


I sat while wheels started spinning between his ears and his circuits fried, realizing that maybe he would be giving up too much . . . or need to adopt a different strategy for himself.

When I worked in recruiting, I remember being contacted by someone who spent almost 40 years with one of the oil companies. He spent his entire career with this firm starting in a relatively junior role and moving up at a snail’s pace that financially did not keep up with inflation.

“I gave my life to this firm and I am now sitting at a desk with nothing to do and 90 days to find a job.”

Before you jump up and say how foolish he was to trust this firm, every day, you (and I certainly did back in the day) and your employer enter into a bargain. You do what they tell you to do and they will give you a certain amount of money and benefits.

Unfortunately, many job hunters attach certain additional things that the employer does not or no longer agrees to.

  1. If I do a job and work hard I can “get ahead.” Where do you see that in your offer letter? It isn’t there.
  2. Your work will be interesting. Maybe your first assignment or assigned work will be but, after that, who knows? You could be assigned to do work that the last three people have resigned after doing for 6 months. You don’t know. Why? On average, turnover is at 25% or more at many employers. Why? “They were recruited to a better opportunity,” is one explanation. Exactly!
  3. We care. Despite all the pictures of happy people in the benefits brochure and on the website, look around. How many people are smiling let alone looking happy? Try asking this question of your future boss. “Tell me about a time when you defended your people to your boss or your management.” They ask behavioral interview questions of you. Why can’t you ask a simple one like this?

When you think back upon what you were told about the job before you were hired and what it and your employer have become, would you have taken this job today?

On a podcast interview I did recently, the host, Jeff Hyman, started a question by commenting that half of all hiring managers have buyer’s remorse within a year of hiring someone (I’ve heard as much as two thirds). I will tell you from experience that it doesn’t take most job hunters to come to the same conclusion about their manager and the decision they made to join.

It starts with becoming resigned to the fact they are stuck for fear that they look like a job hopper, so they try to persevere and “tough it out” through the adversity and, then, develop acceptance that like every job they have ever had it won’t get better (resignation). A little death in their heart converts them into being excellent cogs in the apparatus.

It is so important to be in an environment that supports you at your best, rather than converts you into more of the same mediocrity they already have . . . and that includes firms you would include as being among the best.

It Starts with Courage

It starts with courage—the courage during job interviews to ask questions as tough as the ones they ask you, instead of being nice docile sheep; authenticity when interviewing instead of being “nice” (To be clear, to me, the opposite of being “nice” is honest). Demonstrate your ability to serve others, how you can be truthful and show care for everyone while being effective for them.

Look around your workplace. Ask yourself, “If knew then what I know now, would I have taken the job?” If your answer is, “No,” it is time to stop being resigned to your situation and make a change.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017