You've been at your job for a while, and, on paper, it looks great: your job pays well, the benefits are good and you've negotiated a flexible schedule.
All of these things are great and you're grateful for them but there's a problem: you're bored. Maybe you've been doing the work long enough that it's not fulfilling. Maybe you've risen as far as you can at this job. So what do you do when you don't want to leave your benefits but your boredom makes you dread going to work? First of all, take heart because you're not alone. According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report, of the 100 million workers in the US workforce, 67 percent are disengaged.
That means that only third of the workforce loves their job. The rest (16 percent, exactly) actively dislike their job, or are just... there.
Just because you're in the majority doesn't mean you should just submit to the boredom.
If you're stuck in a job that pays well but bores you, here are some things you can do to get you interested in work again.
Volunteer your talent
You might associate volunteering with building houses, working at soup kitchens or phone banking; however, there are many types of volunteer work.
Nonprofits need developers, programmers and other IT professionals as much as they need other kinds of volunteer work. Bonus: you can volunteer right from your desk. Helping a cause you're passionate about while using the skills you've built during your career is a way to give back to the community while fighting boredom. There are a number of ways to find nonprofits that need volunteer IT help. VolunteerMatch, which is a kind of job board for volunteers, is a good place to start. So is Benetech's Code Alliance, a group which pairs experienced developers with open source projects for nonprofits. Or you can simply contact a charity group you're interested in and ask how you can help.
Position yourself as an expert
You spent a long time honing your skills at your job. You probably have opinions about your work. Why not share them? A long work history in a certain field means you know a lot about it and others in your field may be interested in what you have to say. It's also a great way to meet interesting people in the same line of work.
There are lots of ways to gain traction as an expert. Do you like to write? Consider blogging or writing an e-book and publishing it on Amazon. Do you love social media? Tweet about your field or your profession. You can start a podcast or a YouTube channel or ask to be a guest on someone else's show. Or, if you prefer to go the old-fashioned route, you can do in-person speaking engagements. You don't have to start big; it can be something as simple as speaking at a local Chamber of Commerce event, to a church group or to class about what you do. You can also keep it in the company buy asking your organization's marketing department if they need a speaker at their next event.
Managed right, speaking or writing about your field may become a separate revenue stream but before you buy that podcast mic, make sure you have your employer's blessing. Some companies encourage their employees to be entrepreneurial, some are indifferent and some do not want their employees talking about anything that might be perceived as their job outside of work. Do your due diligence and find out first.
Become a teacher and mentor
Does standing at the head of a classroom appeal to you? What about nurturing the skills of a less experienced colleague? If so, you may want to consider teaching, something that you can do both outside of work and on the job.
You may not think that you're qualified to teach but your years of experience may qualify you to work as an adjunct, or part-time, instructor at local colleges. While the requirements for adjuncts differ from school to school, many colleges require either an advanced degree or a bachelor's degree and a certain number of years of relevant experience to teach a course.
If working a second job doesn't seem appealing, you may find fulfillment through mentoring a younger colleague. Mentoring is an important way of fast-tracking a new worker's career. Check with human resources to see if there's a formal mentoring program in place at your organization. Volunteering to serve as a mentor for those colleagues who want one, may renew your love of your job as you champion someone else's career.
Take some time off
Are you unhappy with your job or are you burned out? A recent Gallup study found that burnout is on the rise, particularly in younger workers and that organizations aren't managing worker burnout well.
If you've been working too hard, it can be difficult to know if you're burnt out or if you actually don't like your job (although the two are certainly not mutually exclusive). Taking some time off may go a long way to giving you the break you need and some perspective on your career. You may feel less trapped in your job when you've taken some time to clear your head.
Become a consultant
If you're bored at work because you've been at your job for a long time and have risen as far as you can but you're worried about taking moving to a more interesting job that pays less, it may time to consider consulting.
You might recoil from the idea because you think of consulting as a risk. There's no guarantee you'll be working, right? You'll lose your benefits. You'll have to find your own clients. That's not necessarily the case — you don't have to fly solo as a consultant. Agencies are dying to find workers like you.
Your years of experience — the same years that qualify you to teach, mentor and speak — mean you're an expert that companies will want to hire. In fact, switching to consulting may increase your earnings, because you grow your skill set when you consult. Agencies often pay to train and certify their consultants so that they can take on a wide range of problems for clients.
That variety of problems will prevent you from being bored as well. Every assignment is different when you're a consultant.
There's also no one way to be a consultant. A good agency will allow you the freedom to consult in a variety of ways — you can work as a W-2 hourly contractor, a 1099 hourly contractor, you can work through your own LLC, for example.
Consulting is a great way to meet new people, solve new challenges, and increase your earnings without being bored. Think you're cut out for consulting?
Contact our recruiting team to talk about finding opportunities that are right for you.