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Top Five Mistakes Unhappy Employees Make

Updated on March 28, 2014

Mistake #1: Quitting Your Job

The biggest mistake made by unhappy employees is QUITTING. Unfortunately, Hollywood has glamorized the notion of marching into your boss's office, slamming down your ID, and shouting 'Take this job and shove it'. In reality, it's the biggest mistake you can make and here's why:

  • By quitting, you give up your right to Unemployment Benefits in most cases. Forfeiting unemployment benefits can cost you as much as $700/week in some states. Unless you have a substantial nest egg or a new job waiting in the wings, DO NOT QUIT. Financially, you'd be better off making them fire you!
  • Unless you have a job lined up, your weekly income will immediately bottom out at ZERO. Going from a few hundred (or thousand) dollars a week to zero is likely to result in financial stress that is sure to exceed whatever work stress you were feeling on the job.
  • By quitting, you're going to lose your health insurance and other benefits. Without significant forethought, in retrospect it may appear to have been an impulsive decision your family may soon come to regret.

Mistake #2: Not Looking for A New Job

It's hard enough dealing with the stress and anxiety of being stuck in an unhappy workplace -- most employees' thoughts revolve around clock-watching and fantasizing about large objects falling on co-workers' heads. But the second biggest mistake made by unhappy employees is the failure to devote the appropriate amount of time to finding a new job.

Candy Crush is great, but it's not going to pay the bills. If you're not on LinkedIn, you need to get on there and get your resume up for the world (and headhunters) to see. Check out Monster and Indeed to look for jobs and spend your down time at work asking around about other opportunities your co-workers may have heard about. Go to job fairs on the weekend and bring plenty of resumes to hand out.

The best way to leave an unhappy job is to find a place to make a soft landing. If you think things are magically going to get better or just don't want to deal with the prospect of starting over someplace new, you're not just stagnating -- you're procrastinating. If that's a problem for you, check out the book 'How to Stop Procrastinating' below.

Mistake #3: Not Having a Killer Resume

The key to escaping your dead-end or miserable job isn't spending $20/week on Powerball Lottery Tickets and praying for a miracle. The real key is having a Killer Resume. If you don't know how to absolutely crush this task, you're killing your career. A resume is a lot like a profile -- strengths are emphasized and modesty isn't rewarded.

If you're not capable of creating a resume that makes you sound like an incredibly qualified job candidate, you need to farm out this task to someone who doesn't know you and can craft a visually-appealing, neatly-organized, career-highlighting document that will make your candidacy JUMP off the paper.

Believe it or not, a killer resume is often the difference between landing the interview and getting tossed into the recycling bin. Don't skimp on this very important investment. Check out Killer-Resume for a reasonably-priced resume service that has proven to be golden.

Mistake #4: Getting Fired for Cause

Let's face it: Unhappy employees are looking for a way out. One of the ways in which unhappiness manifests itself lies in self-destruction. An unhappy employee may begin slacking off, coming in late, leaving early, taking long lunches, refusing to follow orders, or picking fights with fellow employees. Time and time again, I've seen employees irrevocably damage their careers by engaging in self-destructive behavior that results in 'for-cause' termination.

What is 'for-cause' termination? In most states, an employee who is fired 'for cause' or 'with cause' is ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. This often winds up having the same effect as quitting but without the glory of slamming down one's uniform or equipment and screaming 'I quit!' in your boss's face.

Unhappy employees must keep their emotions in check at the workplace. Passive-aggressive tactics like showing up late, skipping mandatory meetings and taking 2 hour bathroom breaks are liable to give your employer the perfect excuse to fire you 'for cause' -- ridding the company of an unhappy employee and putting you on skid row.

Mistake #5: Giving Two Weeks Notice When Leaving

Some employees continue to be under the impression that there is a law that requires an employee to provide his or her employer with two weeks notice. In fact, it is a courtesy that employers have encouraged employees to provide to them. Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies provide NO SUCH COURTESY to their employees when terminating their employment.

Many companies consider an employee who has provided two weeks notice to be a security risk and will have such an employee immediately escorted from the premises. Worse yet, rather than reward the employee for providing this courtesy, more often than not the employee finds himself punished by being immediately cut from payroll.

What could possibly be worse than losing out on two weeks pay by attempting to be courteous and thoughtful? The expression 'No good deed goes unpunished' comes to mind.

Again, remember that less than 1% of companies will provide one with ANY notice when terminating an employee, unless it's a planned reduction in force (RIF).

If you were thinking that providing a two-week notice would be a two-way street, you'll be sorely disappointed.

At the very least, try to find out if your company has a policy of immediately dismissing those who resign. Unless you can afford to lose two weeks of salary, you're better off working right up until your next job starts.

About the Author

Author Jason Stern is an employment attorney in New York City, who represents employees fighting for their legal rights. He has been featured on or quoted by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Good Morning America, CNN, Headline News, ABC News, US World & News Report, Bottom Line Personal, Men's Vogue, BBC UK, John Tesh and countless other media outlets. His popular video series, 'Your Rights in the Workplace' has educated more than 250,000 employees and HR professionals around the globe and his book 'From Layoff to Payoff' is available for purchase through Amazon.

He can be contacted through his website Severance Attorney or via email at Mention Hubpages for a free 20-minute telephone consultation.



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