When All Is Said and Done, Keep It Classy

Capitol Hill got you down? Maybe you didn’t get the press secretary position you were so qualified for. Maybe your merit raise hardly amounted to a cost-of-living adjustment? Or perhaps the boss that loved you is retiring, or caught in some embarrassing scandal, and you’re done listening to people scream at you over the telephone.  

Whatever it is, it’s not your day. Or week. Or year.  

Hill Navigator has some advice for you, world-weary staffer. Hang in there. All careers have ups and downs. Even Barack Obama lost an election once. But he rebounded in due time, as you will. Hill Navigator has some tips to help you weather the storm, all the while maintaining your cool, calm facade.  

Do good work:  All the time. Even if you are in a job you hate, do the job as well as you can. All of your co-workers are witnesses to your awesomeness; if they see you sulking or playing Candy Crush, that’s what they’ll remember. These people are the core of your soon-to-be-expanding network, so make sure they think you’re outstanding. Remember that being a stellar employee is easy to do in your dream job , but how you operate in the dire circumstances says more about your work ethic and professionalism.  

Keep your standards:  Do not be tempted by a quick fix, a few bucks, or even a snazzy title if you know this is not going to be what suits you long term. If you are not going to rock the job, then wait and find one that you will. Hill Navigator understands that sometimes we take jobs because we need — not want — them. But come up with some standards and do your best to stick to them. Whether it’s working for a member you feel invested in or getting a salary you feel suits your talents, take your job search slow rather than jumping into anything that waves a dollar or fancy title in front of your face.  

Don’t make financial decisions on an empty stomach: Do not make any work-life-money decisions while caught up in the moment. Take time to think about what your options are — preferably in a situation outside of work when you’re well-rested and with a clear head.  

Avoid the drama:  You’re probably never going to get the "Jerry Maguire" “Who’s coming with me?” moment. You probably won’t even get the Bridget Jones or "Half Baked" versions either. Real job departures are quieter, more complicated and don’t involve goldfish. If you’re departing, there are loose ends to tie up, vacation days to cash out and health insurance to figure out. You don’t want to leave with a flourish; you want to leave with a plan.  

Don’t let one represent all: Say you like your job and work, but there just happens to be one person whose vision/actions/attitudes are making you want to bolt. Think hard before considering making a drastic move on the basis of one person. If it’s a toxic office, yes, try and get out of there post-haste. But if it’s one person who is too big for her or his britches in an otherwise pleasant environment, see if you can thrive despite him or her. Connect with the co-workers you do get along with; find ways to collaborate on projects with those whose work style best complements your own. You’ll always have an oddball co-worker. Focus on steering your energy away from that person and toward more productive and effective people.  

Recognize this is all part of the ups and downs of a career: You’ll kiss a lot of frogs before finding a prince, just as you’ll have stellar and dire moments in your long career. (Unless you’re Sheryl Sandberg, but most of us aren’t.) There will be a job well-suited to you, even if it’s not the one you have now. The bad doesn’t last, but the good doesn’t, either. Think of this as a test for how well you handle rough transitions. You’ll be glad you kept your wits about you.