Hate Your Job but Can't Leave? Here's What You Do

You hate your job, but you’re too busy to look, and you can’t quit your job to free up time for a job search because 1) it’s better to look when you have a job; and 2) you need to maintain your salary.

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You’re already working 80 hours a week – how exactly are you going to squeeze in a job search? You’re exhausted, frustrated and negative after work – how attractive are you going to be in this state anyway?

This describes the vicious cycle of a lot of professionals in demanding jobs: you want to leave your job but you need another one before you can, and you can’t find another one while you have this one.

The only way out of this loop is to somehow break the sequence. I would never advise a client to quit a current job to launch a job search. As a former recruiter, I know firsthand the big advantage an employed jobseeker has over unemployed candidates.

It’s also financially irresponsible and an undue psychological burden on your job search. Why place urgency on your job search – the pressure to start bringing in money – unnecessarily?

That said, if you keep doing what you’re doing with anything, career or otherwise, you will get the same results. So the only way to land a new job is to make time for your job search. When you’re already working 80 hours a week, this means cutting down on your work time.

You might argue that you’ll get fired – perhaps, but you were going to quit anyway. More likely, you will have several weeks if not months before your diminished effort is noticed – this should be enough time for your search. You need to find just a few hours a week to get started, and then you can build up to 10, 15, or more hours per week for your search.

But you’re too exhausted to carve out even a few hours! You’re harboring a bad attitude that makes you lazy because your current job makes you crazy. This negativity part of the bad cycle often has to be interrupted first before you can do anything.

Besides, even if you could muster the time for your search, you can’t launch a successful job search as an angry, anxious, or otherwise negative person. You’ll drive networking leads and prospective employers away. You need to be upbeat, energetic, and enthusiastic enough to attract people and opportunities to you.

If your job makes you negative, it means you have to find something else that will counteract the negativity. This “something else” is not your job search (the search itself can be tedious and frustrating). I haven’t met anyone who likes to look for a job; it’s a necessary evil.

What will counteract the negativity is something personal, something outside your current job and your future search. It could be a hobby or an activity from your Always Wanted To Do This list.

The goal is to get you doing something you actually like. You want to reconnect with that part of you that feels enjoyment. Fulfilling this personal desire counteracts the negativity. You will still hate your job, but you will have enough of a spark elsewhere (think of jumpstarting a car with another vehicle) to get started on your search.

You don’t need to quit your terrible job to find another job. Don’t add that extra worry to your already full list of things to be unhappy about. Don’t even worry about how you will make the time for your job search.

The time is there – right now it is squandered on feeling bad about your situation. Instead, focus on finding a spark outside your current job (and not your job search) that will inspire you to get started.

Some of my clients threw themselves into fitness goals, ate at all the restaurants on their Someday list, or finally read that novel they’ve been meaning to get to. They rediscovered something they liked, became far more interesting people, and then were able to launch a search.

If you hate your job and just can’t leave, don’t worry about leaving. Just do something fun. Remember what it’s like to like something. Break the vicious cycle.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart® (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and other leading business authors) of "How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times" from Two Harbors Press, 2010. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline has recruited for leading companies in media, financial services, consulting, technology and healthcare.