A bad job is one where you see no further hope of learning anything new, and where you feel that you’re no longer making a positive contribution. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think a bad job is one where your boss is an ass, or your co-workers are incompetent, or the work itself is horrible. All of these are symptoms of a bad job, but they’re not the reasons the job is bad.
One of the reasons I work is to improve myself. I want to learn new things so that I can better prepare myself for whatever may happen in the future. I also want to do work that’s helping other people in some way, whether it be through selling them a product or providing a service. This not only boosts my self-esteem, but it also gives me a reason to go to work every day.
Without these elements, the bad boss, co-workers, and/or work are highlighted. Not only are you not getting anything out of the job for yourself, but other factors are driving your job satisfaction down. That’s when it’s time to find a new job – when you’re no longer able to identify benefits to staying on.
So a bad job can be found anywhere. That guy driving a Porsche and making $150,000 a year could be stuck in a job that he sees no future in and derives no enjoyment from. It’s not obvious to the casual observer that his job sucks since he has all the trappings of success.
At the same time, the cashier working at a McJob may consider that she’s in a good job because she’s learning about customer service, inter-personal communications, and being part of a team. Sure, the pay’s low, the customers surly, and the food crap, but she knows that she’s improving herself for the job market later on.
I think a bad job is what you make of it. If you’re able to find positives in the work, then you’re obviously learning something of use. Take as much as you can if you’re in this position to ready yourself for a new job. Only when you’re no longer anything new is it time to quit.
But you know, having said all this, I recognize that sometimes it’s not humanly possible to tolerate the rantings of an insane manager or the ramblings of inane co-workers for any length of time. The delineations of a bad job are fluid, and the all depend on your personal tolerances. Ultimately, if you can’t take it any more, that’s probably the time to look for a new job.