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Unhappy at Work, Not in the Right Career, Work Satisfaction at an All Time Low?

A recent article in The Age (2013) showed that only 51% of employees felt they were in the right career, with 27% not sure and the other 22% saying no.

Another article published by the Sydney Morning Herald (2011) showed that satisfaction levels were at an all-time low, with job satisfaction levels at only 56% in Victoria, 51% in NSW, and 46% overall in Australia.

Do you see yourself as one of these dissatisfied people, and are you thinking should I go or should I stay now? For many people it is not an easy solution to leave: financial commitments, fear of change, lack of confidence in your ability and skills, negative press and comments about the current job market can all hold us back.

In The Age 41% commented that they were in their jobs because they ‘fell into’ the role, and over 10% had made the choice based on suggestions from friends, family or teachers.  

A range of issues can contribute to a lack of satisfaction with your job, and these can include:

  • Problems in other aspects of your life. For example financial, health or relationship issues.
  • Inadequate recognition for your contribution in the workplace (financial incentives, promotional opportunities, positive feedback).
  • Long working hours and little work-life balance.
  • Working in a role where you are either over-skilled or perhaps you feel out of your depth.

So how can you answer the question ‘should I go or should I stay now?’ to improve your satisfaction levels and career choice?

First of all it is important to fight the fear. Fear is a normal part of the job search process, so instead of letting it hold you back you need to work through it. Block (2010) mentions that with the onslaught of the 24-hour news cycle, and challenging economic times, it is difficult not to be negatively influenced by what you hear. Yet Australia’s unemployment rate is currently 5.2%, with youth unemployment (15-19 years old) at 26.6%. Compare this to Spain with overall unemployment at 26.6% and youth unemployment (under 25 years old) currently at 56.6%. Australia’s position looks healthy by comparison.

In addition, your own conversations can have an impact: can I do this, do I have the skills, what jobs are there for me, am I too old to change?

When I started my medical degree at 30 I was one of the oldest interns, and sometimes I wondered if I was too old to be starting out. Yet my previous work experience often placed me in a better position to deal with patients then those who had completed the degree straight from school. (Kerrie, Physician 2012)

People around you will try and influence your decision by giving you advice; some of it good and some of it not so good. So you need to have the courage to select what advice and information is right for you. Zikic & Hall (2009) outline that career decisions can be strongly influenced by the relationship structure to which individuals belong, and that the relationship can sometimes serve as a barrier to career development.

When I was making my change from teaching into my own training organisation I found that my mentor gave me excellent support and advice that helped me to achieve my career goals. (Anthony – Director)

Secondly take small steps. I like the following quote:

“I am not there yet but I am one step closer than I was yesterday”

So how do we take these steps?

It is very important to have a project plan. Block (2010) outlines that successful endeavours are in most cases a result of following a well thought-out written action plan. Even if you are not sure where you are going a plan will help.

“I am not sure where I am going but I will know when I get there.”

You should be prepared to spend at least 20-30 minutes a day working through your project tasks.

Your project plan should include the following tasks:


Take time to assess your current situation. Are there things you can do to improve it? Can you have a career conversation with your management team at work? Review your current career profile.

Networking & Support:

Set time aside to build and make contacts by networking.

e.g: LinkedIn (online networking profile)
    Career Fairs (Reinvent Your Career)
    Business Chicks (professional networking group for women)

* “Networking helped me to move out of my accounting role and into Sports betting”. (Tom – Sportsbet Manager, 2013)

Make an appointment with a career consultant.
See (to find a consultant in your State). Career consultants can provide you with a range of career advice.

Get support from family and friends.
“I was able to move from IT and study teaching because of the support of my family.” Mary – Primary Teacher, 2013)

Let people know that you are looking for new opportunities.

“I met a women in a course and she mentioned that with my background I should consider working in the University sector. That afternoon I looked at the University’s website. Within a month I had secured a role that was perfect for my background. I had never considered this type of organisation before. (Lisa, 2009)

Read Relevant Sites and undertake market research:

Australian Jobs 2012 is a publication from DEEWR that is very useful in presenting information for people exploring careers or education and training options. The publication includes information about employment trends by region, occupation and industry, together with projected employment growth and job prospects.

Job Outlook provides career and labour market research information covering around 350 individual occupations. It has been recently updated with 2011 data and is an invaluable part of the career practitioner’s toolkit.

My Future

This website will provides a range of career development information and will help you to explore career ideas.

Look at company websites, read newspapers, blogs, listen to the radio.

 Ok, so when do you start? My advice is TODAY. You already have those links to read. By starting today “you will be one step closer than you were yesterday”.

Hopefully this information will help you move into the % group who have made the right career choice and are satisfied with their current role.


Lisa Happell is a qualified Career Practitioner. Further information can be found on her website



 Block, J.A (2010) 100 Best Ways to Land a Job in Troubled Times. 

McGraw Hill, London.

Zikic, J., & Hall, D.T (2009) Toward a More Complex View of Career Exploration. The Career Development Quarterly, 58, 181-191

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