Shedding That Lame-Duck Feeling

If you've lost your enthusiasm for your job and are looking to leave, use your remaining time to enhance your résumé and build contacts

Dear Liz,

I saw your response to the reader who has gotten a warning on the job and has to get out quickly. My situation is a little different. I don't hate my job, but I'm completely unmotivated and really tired of it, and I need to start looking for something else. That might take a while. Any tips on how to stay focused on my current job while I'm launching a full-scale job search?



Dear Jason,

Whenever you have a period of time and activity "forced" on you (in this case, the last three to six months at your current job) it's important to focus on putting that time to work for your future goals. In your case, you're going to be at this job until you find a new one, and rather than drag yourself in every day, cursing your fate, you can find the energy you need if you think about what you can accomplish—for your own benefit—in the months still to serve on your "sentence."

If you're a typical burned-out, unmotivated employee, you're hurting yourself in two ways that can affect you down the road. One, it's likely you're not doing the kinds of projects and work that will give you bragging rights on your résumé. (This can be a real chicken-and-egg scenario: Are you unmotivated because your assignments don't thrill you anymore? Or does your burned-out state stop you from tackling the challenging stuff?)

Employers want to see recent accomplishments on a résumé, so look on the time you're still there as a chance to fix any problems. Focus on adding an important bullet point or two to your résumé in the time you've got left. Do it for yourself, if not for your boss and your co-workers.

The second way you could be hurting yourself is in your relationships with your colleagues. I wouldn't be surprised if your relationships at work are not what they might be, given your lack of excitement about your job. What if you took the time now to cultivate relationships so that when you do leave, your team will bemoan your loss and your boss will become a trusted reference down the road? Stranger things have happened.

Don't treat these last few months (and it might even be weeks) on the job as the end of a long and painful era. Think of this time as a chance to get from this job what it hasn't given you so far: résumé fodder and terrific connections for the rest of your career. If your colleagues wonder, "What made Jason the top player on our team all of a sudden?" they'll get their answer soon enough.

Best of luck to you,


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