What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “corporate America?” For some, it conjures up exciting images of movers and shakers dressed in power suits, making executive decisions that drive their company’s success. Others get a feeling of dread as they contemplate long hours spent in office cubicles, workplace politics, notions of dark money, political influence, and lack of accountability.
As with most aspects of life, working in a corporate environment has both good and bad points. However, what should you do if you hate your corporate job and can’t wait to get out? In this post, we’ll discuss what a corporate job is, some of its pros and cons, and six tips to help you survive the corporate world (at least for the time being).
What Is a Corporate Job?
At its most basic level, you have a corporate job when you work for someone else. The term “corporate” also carries a strong implication of organization, bureaucracy, and “being a cog in the machine,” as it were. Some of the more common corporate jobs include:
- IT professional
- Call center agent/customer service representative
- HR specialist
- Team leader/manager
- QA auditor
The Advantages of a Corporate Job
There’s a reason so many people work in a corporate setting — it comes with many benefits that other jobs don’t have. For example:
- A measure of job security. In many organizations, low-level and mid-level positions come with a lot of stability. If you don’t want to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from, then a salaried job with an established business may be the right choice for you.
- Consistent work/life balance (sometimes). Many independent contractors and self-employed entrepreneurs find it hard to keep their personal and professional lives separate. They may have to work a scattershot schedule or constantly be “on call.” In that regard, a 9 to 5 corporate job offers a better work/life balance (although the specter of overtime is always looming).
- The opportunity to learn new skills. Many corporate jobs allow employees to learn new skills that could be useful later in life. These could be technical or interpersonal skills. This is especially true when the employer has a mentorship program for new hires or cross-training opportunities for employees that have been with the organization a while.
- Networking opportunities. The old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is absolutely true in the corporate world. Working at a big corporation can introduce you to people that you would never have met otherwise — and these contacts may prove to be valuable assets to you as your career progresses.
The Downsides of a Job in the Corporate World
While there are some definite advantages that a corporate job can offer, it may also come with some serious drawbacks. For instance:
- A toxic culture. If your company or department suffers from a high turnover rate, poor management, or a lot of negativity from coworkers, then it’s very likely that you’re dealing with a toxic culture. As the name implies, a toxic culture can make you feel like your soul and spirit are slowly being poisoned by the oppressive conditions at work.
- Zero loyalty. Realistically, everyone who works at a corporate organization is expendable. If you’ve given your blood, sweat, and tears to your employer only to find a pink slip on your desk when you come into work, then you’ll understand how crushing the “look out for #1” mindset in corporate America can be.
- Burnout. So much of the corporate world revolves around production metrics, sales quotas, and performance. In the drive to climb that corporate ladder, many employees get “burned out;” they lose sleep and energy, can’t focus, and develop a negative outlook on life.
6 Tips for Surviving in the Corporate World
If you absolutely can’t stand your corporate job, what should you do? Assuming that you can’t immediately find a new position, here are six tips to help you survive:
1. Focus on what you’re accomplishing in your current role.
Whether you’re answering inbound customer calls or troubleshooting software issues, you are contributing to your current employer’s success. It’s true that others may not praise or even acknowledge your work. However, if you take some time to think about the benefits that your work is bringing to the table, you’ll enjoy greater self-respect and maybe even find a small measure of happiness in your job.
2. Practice self-discipline.
Even if you can’t stand your job, you can still use it as an opportunity to cultivate self-discipline. Even the simple act of showing up to work on time, day in and day out, can be a huge benefit to you in the future. Who knows? A manager may notice your consistency and give you a reward one day out of the blue.
3. Develop strong communication skills.
One of the best ways to get ahead in your career is to gain strong interpersonal skills. The fact is, most people would rather work with a kind, polite, and respectful person who has limited technical knowledge than a rude and overbearing expert. Whether you’re dealing with an incompetent boss, an irritating co-worker, or an angry customer, view the situation as an opportunity to strengthen your communication skills for your next role (wherever that may be).
4. Pay attention to your image.
Promotions are often linked more to the perception of performance rather than actual performance. Of course, you want to do your best. However, don’t discount the importance of cultivating a positive image around your peers and supervisors. For instance, always wear proper attire, cultivate good personal grooming habits, and practice expressing yourself clearly, concisely, and respectfully. This will help you feel more confident and at ease in the corporate world.
5. Get a side hustle.
If you hate your job and desperately want to leave, there may be an alternative to immediately “cutting bait.” Try to find a job on the side with the potential to become a full-time position one day. Then you can view your current job as a way to finance your future plans instead of a trap from which you can’t escape.
6. Focus on the future.
According to a survey of baby boomers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average worker has 12 different jobs throughout his or her lifetime. The point is, your current job isn’t necessarily your “forever job.” When you keep that in mind and keep your eyes open for a better opportunity, it can help you to cope with the day-to-day grind of your current position.
In conclusion, don’t despair if you detest your corporate job. Focus on the positive, view it as a learning opportunity, and keep an eye towards the future. Eventually, your circumstances will change, and you’ll be able to enjoy your work once again. In the meantime, don’t forget to use helpful resources like Lensa job search to find better work opportunities — both inside and outside the corporate world.