Five Common “Worst Job” Scenarios


By Maureen McCann.

Some days our clients may feel that they have the worst jobs in the world. Every once in a while we are there to remind them that perhaps when compared to other jobs, their jobs aren’t as bad as they might seem. As career professionals, we know there’s no such thing as the “worst job” or “best job” because both are subjective.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

What might be horrible from one client’s perspective is an amazing opportunity for another. The only “worst job” is the one that’s the worst fit for one particular person.

That said, five common themes stood out in our practice at ProMotion Career Solutions as we looked back on some of the most common problems our clients had asked for our help in resolving.

Misaligned Values

Imagine the values our clients hold. These could be related to faith, the treatment of others, the value placed on relationships, money, intelligence, or hard work. Now imagine those clients working for organizations whose values are in direct opposition to what they fundamentally believe. Their values and the organizations’ values are misaligned. This can wreak havoc with even the best employee/employer relationships.

We worked with a client who loved his job, loved his colleagues, loved working for the public service, but struggled because something felt “off” and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He desperately wanted to leave his job, and he couldn’t understand why he felt so strongly about it. We worked together for a few sessions and evaluated his core beliefs. It didn’t take long for us to find out that his beliefs were in direct opposition to those of the government of the day. In his mind, he felt like he was working for the enemy. His core values were misaligned with those of his employer and it made going to work – for him – next to impossible.

Toxic Work Environments

Drama, infighting, backstabbing – some workplaces are full of competition and politics (not in a good way). Toxic work environments make even the happiest of employees shudder at the thought of going to work.

A comprehensive workforce study, undertaken by the recruitment firm, Hays Canada, suggests that 47 per cent of Canadian professionals are unhappy in their jobs.

Toxicity catches fire in an office when it goes unchecked. Think about that – the remaining 53% of employees are working in environments nearly half full of people who are unhappy at their jobs. Imagine what that might feel like!


The ole bait-and-switch! Is there anything worse than hearing clients tell you about how they were lured away from great jobs by unscrupulous employers? Imagine being promised an amazing opportunity, making life-changing decisions based on that information, and then finding out the source was unreliable. Argh! This year we worked with a number of clients who were wooed away from good employers to what they were told were stellar senior-level opportunities where they would do amazing work with amazing people.

Fast-forward three months – the corporate cultures are messy, the roles are too junior, and these clients have no influence or direct contact with the decision-makers they were told they would be working with to create those stellar opportunities for the company. Each kicked themselves for not trusting their instincts when they sensed a couple of “red flags” during various interview stages. Now these clients feel stuck and a bit paranoid about making the same mistake as they look for an exit out of this job and an entrance into a new one.

Feeling Stuck

This is the one we hear most. Maybe it resonates with you and the clients you work with in your practice. Clients know they can do more; heck, they can feel it in their bones. They want to do more, but their managers don’t recognize it in them and/or they are grossly under-employed. They stay with what they know. We have clients who annually reach out saying “This is the year I’ll make the change,” and then another year goes by. They are so busy at their jobs that they forget to work on their careers.

Not all clients understand the distinction between a job and a career. As career professionals we teach our clients that they have a job (a place where they go every day and the employer pays them to do work towards the mandate,  vision, or bottom-line of the business). These clients also have careers that need management and fostering.

Many people think if they have a job they’re good; they don’t need to think about their career because they have a job. That’s not always true. Jobs come and go. Employers lay off employees, emergency family situations arise – there are all kinds of reasons why it’s important that careers be carefully and mindfully managed.

Feeling Overwhelmed / Burned out

There were quite a few clients this year that worked really hard and felt that regardless of what they did, their employers had no issue at all asking them for more, and more, and more! There was little, if any, appreciation, gratitude, or validation of their efforts, which left a bad taste with these clients. Each knew they were amazingly talented and that someone somewhere could put their talents to good use (and value and appreciate the work being contributed).

We loved seeing a number of these clients go on to find meaningful, joyful work where their new employers were glad to have them, and they felt valued for their contributions.

Career Professionals Can Help!

As your clients are getting back to work in this new year, encourage them to think about whether any of these five situations exist at their places of work. In many cases, there are solutions to help minimize the negative effects on them; talking with a career professional is the first step. In other cases, it may be time for them to make their mental and physical well-being a priority and leave a toxic work environment.

That’s where we, as certified career practitioners, can help. There’s proven value in hiring a career professional.


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Working with a career professional gives hope to those jobseekers looking to move forward and explore other opportunities but paralyzed by the process. Like many things in life, some things are just too big and overwhelming to tackle alone and require the contribution of a trained professional to guide one along the path.

…sometimes, for our clients, knowing there is someone to listen is all a client may need to feel supported enough to trust themselves, their instincts and what they know to be true.

Often they look around and see others at work who are content; they then question themselves: “why can’t I make this work? what’s wrong with me?” When in fact there is nothing wrong with them, they are simply out of alignment with what they WANT to be doing.

You’re right Christine, that may take a trained professional to help them see and understand. Thanks for reading this post and sharing your comment.

Another issue that I have run into with unhappy clients is that ” the grass always looks greener on the other side.” Researching career options and the labour market by doing informational interviews, clients can receive a reality check and re-evaluate their situation. Sometimes small changes are negotiated within their current employment for them to regain their enthusiasm for their work.

Thanks for the article – I have run into all of these common problems over the years.