We all want to work in a job that pays us what we're worth and respects us for our many talents -- but the reality is, many people are stuck in unstable jobs that don't provide enough hours, have moody managers or are otherwise crazy. If you're one of them, your first instinct may be to cut and run -- and in some cases, that's the best plan. But if you need to hang on, look for ways to find sanity through yourself, your boss and your co-workers.
Find an ally with whom you can sound off about the problems associated with the job. Don't make a habit of dishing while you're on the job, but the lunch hour or an after-work happy hour can be great times to sound off about your mutual woes. If possible, find friends or allies in higher positions in the company; not only may they be able to provide information about the mechanisms in place that are making your job unstable, but they may also be able to support you when new opportunities for advancement arise.
Talk to your manager to look for ways to solve at least some of the problems you're facing. Don't try to do the manager's job -- that might upset him or her -- but let your manager know that you're committed to advancement and improvement and that you need the manager's help to make progress. If specific, glaring issues are making your job unstable, let your manager know about them and ask whether there are ways to improve. If the instability comes from not getting enough hours or a spotty work schedule, ask whether any change is in sight. Whatever the answer, talking about it will let you know where you stand and may encourage some change.
Find ways to get stress relief off the job. Take up a hobby, rev up your exercise routine or join a new club to give yourself a mental break and provide something else to think about besides your stressful, unstable job.
Seek job training that can help you get into a new field or up your ante in the job market. In some cases, it's not necessarily the job that's unstable, but the entire job market of your industry. If that's the case, the only solution may be to switch careers altogether. Look for community college programs, night schools or flexible training programs that will provide you the financial and moral support you need to train for a new career while you maintain your current position.
Look for other jobs. Since you're already employed, you won't have the desperation that unemployed people may have when searching the want ads; however, keeping your eyes and ears open can alert you to new opportunities as they arise. Sometimes simply looking at the job listings can give you a feeling that there are other, more stable, less crazy positions out there, opening you up to a sense of possibility and promise.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.