Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Burnout? Think Temporary Job

By: Marci Hilt, former Federal Communicators Network leader,
retired in 2010 with 43 years federal service
Photo of the author, Marci Hilt

Do you feel like you could do your job blindfolded and with your hands tied behind your back?

Do you dread coming to work every day? Are you losing respect for your agency, the government, and your profession? Are you tired of your job, even though it was exciting and challenging a few short years ago?

You, my friend, are suffering from burnout. It’s time for you to find a new job. But, in today’s job climate, that may be easier said than done.

Over the years, I saw a lot of people who had obviously burned out. Unfortunately, they didn’t do anything about it; they became the complainers, those folks who never did much of anything. Not only did they complain, many times, they actually went out of their way to keep others from doing their jobs.

When I faced burnout, I tried looking for a new job. I didn’t have any luck applying at different agencies. Then, I stopped looking for a new job in the standard way and started looking for temporary jobs where I could be detailed to another agency. That’s when I discovered a bonanza.

Feel You Could Do Your Job Blindfolded?
Photo of an office worker, a woman weating a red sweater, looking bored and tired
Photo courtesy Flickr user Jenica26, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
There are a lot of temporary jobs available, you just have to keep your eyes open. I started looking for cross-disciplinary or interdepartmental team jobs that needed my skills. My first temporary assignment fell into my lap. At first I thought I was being punished. It was challenging and a little scary. But, it was a new interdepartmental job and my new boss wanted my ideas. I found I liked special assignments – particularly where no one had done the job before. That way, I could define the job the way I wanted to do it.

Don’t worry if the job is only for a few months. Most of the assignments I got were temporary, but they presented me with new challenges and demands that recharged and re-energized me. One of my temporary jobs was for six months, but I ended up working there for more than three years because they liked what I was doing and kept extending the assignment.

Dread Coming To Work Every Day?
Photo courtesy Flickr user danoxster CC BY-SA 2.0
Be creative when you’re looking. Work your contacts to see who knows of any temporary jobs that might be right for you. If you see a possible spot, talk to the person in charge and convince them they need to ask your boss to borrow you to do the job. I did that more than once and one time, my new boss was willing to swap one of her employees with my boss so I could work for her.

Each temporary job you get gives you more job skills to add to your resume, which makes you more valuable to future employers. It also shows your ability to land on your feet in new situations.

We all need a sense of purpose when we work. We need to feel that what we’re doing is important and that what we’re doing makes a difference.

So, if you see a temporary job advertized, be sure to apply. Even if you don’t get that job, you’ll be ready for the next one. Don’t give up: one of those job leads will eventually pan out.

If other employees tease you about your details, remember they’re just jealous because you’re having all the fun.

This discussion is brought to you by the Federal Communicators Network. FCN members are government employees managing U.S. government communications. We've published lots more on this topic. Check out Training Government Communicators - How Do You Grow A Professional Workforce? and Study: Feds Overwhelmingly Want To Innovate, But Agencies Send Mixed Signals.

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