What to do when you’re stuck in a dead-end job?


My wife, Kat, works in a local supermarket; she's been with the company for the better part of 14 years. Over those years, she has been in 2 different stores, countless managers, and only a few small raises.

Currently, Kat makes only slightly more than NYS minimum wage and works anywhere from 15 to 40 hours a week. Like many companies, her company jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that allows an employer to deny benefits to part-time employees. At that time, all non-essential positions were automatically dropped to part-time, since a full-time employee would be eligible for company paid benefits.

In an understaffed supermarket, having a reliable crew is essential, so some weeks, Kat gets a full work week, working 8 hours a day for five days, alternating between a few areas of the store. However, if she works more than a certain number of hours for more than 3 weeks, the company is forced to consider her a full-time employee, once she gets almost used to a larger paycheck, her hours take a nose dive and she'll suddenly start seeing a few weeks where she is scheduled 15 hours at best.

It's disheartening to receive such a lack of appreciation for your hard work, and even worse to feel like your financial well-being is of no concern to the company you bust your ass to serve. It's even worse when you feel like there's nothing you can do to climb out of such a hole and find something that will give you the respect that you deserve. First, there's a matter of breaking out of the comfort zone; since she's been with the same employer for so long, even being unhappy, there's a certain sense of not wanting to move on, even if any possible new opportunities might be a better fit with superior benefits.

Secondly, there's the lack of experience in order to find something substantially better. I know that Kat never intended on making a career out of working in a supermarket, however, after spending most of her adult life there, she, unfortunately, doesn't have much that can make her a top-tier candidate for a better position at a different company.

Finally, there's the fear of falling into the same trap that she's already in. Unfortunately, in today's economic state, there's little to no reassurance that any new job that she might take would offer her a higher salary or a more stable schedule then she is currently receiving. Add to this that as a supermarket employee, she has union protections keeping her from losing her job for anything short of a severe policy violation, it's easy just to allow yourself to stick with a lousy job that's secure versus taking a chance on a potentially great job that offers no guarantees.

So there we have it; the ultimate in employment conundrums. How do you escape from such a hellish employment scenario? Is it better to just accept your fate and remain with an employer who makes you miserable? Or should you take a leap of faith and hope for the best elsewhere? But what if you can never find that opportunity elsewhere? How do you continue in a miserable job and not let the lack of better opportunities weigh you down in despair?

Sometimes breaking out of our comfort zone is what we have to do to find a job that will pay us what we deserve.

It may not be easy in many cases, but it is surely not impossible. What options do you have? Well, that is going to vary on the person and situation they are in.

The first option is attending school for something you are interested in. Now college is not for everyone, sometimes cost and time can get in the way. However, there are more options out there today if college is something you are considering. Some states such as Rhode Island, Tennessee, New York, and Oregon offer Tuition-free College programs. Of course, this may or may not come with a catch or specific requirements to attend, but nonetheless it is an option that is out there for many who want to give it a try. But what if college is out of the question completely? Well, there are some fairly decent to high paying fields that will hire you even without a degree. We hope to see that number increase as some college curriculums continue to lose relevance, as many more begin to believe that in today's world your skills and knowledge, and not a piece of paper, are what truly show your worth.

Companies such as Google, Ernst and Young, Penguin Random House, Hilton, and Apple will hire for roles such as Product Manager, Recruiter, UX Engineer, Software Engineer and more according to Glassdoor.com. According to a recent article, they will still take education into consideration but they will not have a strict policy on where you are educated.

Not everyone wants to spend their lives working for a major company. If that is the case, the best course of action may be to get a start at your own dreams during your free time. We believe with the rise of social media and technology there has never been a better time to do this. The amount of options can be endless, as it's really about doing what you're most passionate about and sharing it with the world. You can write about what you love in a personal blog, or you can even talk about it aloud in a Vlog on many websites.

Once your work gains a following, the possibilities are endless. You can work towards gaining sponsorships and begin to earn some small revenue. There are several excellent books available, by experts such as Gary Vaynerchuk, which can help you learn the necessary tools to become an entrepreneur through social media.

We believe the key to ultimate happiness it to do what you are passionate about and turning that into your career. What are you passionate about? We’d love to hear! Let us know below in the comments below!