Toil­ing at a mind­less, soul-suck­ing job? Stop clock­watch­ing and use your time to amass the mad skills and killer con­tacts you need to say “buh-bye.”

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - You, You, You -

Good on Pa­per At her con­sult­ing job, Lizett, 25, worked with top com­pa­nies and made se­ri­ous bank, but she hated the slav­ish hours and mean­ing­less tasks. “I started day­dream­ing about break­ing my leg so I wouldn’t have to go to work,” she says.

Her exit strat­egy She got trained in gen­eral of­fice skills, like making pre­sen­ta­tions, which could be ap­plied any­where, and stock­piled cash by mov­ing to a place with two room­mates. The biz smarts and sur­plus scratch en­abled Lizett to cre­ate her own fash­ion brand. “Many of my for­mer col­leagues have told me I’m brave to do this,” she says, “But if you’re really un­happy in your job, it’s not go­ing to get bet­ter, so don’t be afraid of the pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

the take­away Treat your job like busi­ness school. Push your­self to take on new roles, and show up for all those com­pany-spon­sored sem­i­nars on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, net­work­ing, and strat­egy. Those skills will help pre­pare you for your next gig.

Abused As­sis­tant Jessi’s boss didn’t wear Prada, but she did make life hellish. “She once told me to take notes at a speak­ing en­gage­ment, but said I wasn’t al­lowed to talk, that I should be ‘the peon in the back of the room.’”

Her exit strat­egy Jessi, 24, let her boss’ in­sults roll off her back as she did her work— and looked for a new job. When her cur­rent em­ployer asked if she could han­dle dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, Jessi as­sured him it was no prob­lem. “When you can say ‘I have worked at a high-pres­sure or­ga­ni­za­tion, that’s mar­ketable,” says Michelle Good­man, au­thor of Crap Job: How to Make the Most of the Job You Hate.

the take­away Night­mare bosses teach you how not to man­age peo­ple. The gofer years are the time when you learn to man­age bloated egos, dis­pel drama, and just get stuff done. Un­der­lings also be­come very good at read­ing rooms and know­ing when to as­sert them­selves—and when to keep their mouths shut.

The Dead End Em­melie, 24, was a so­cial me­dia copy­writer, work­ing in her field but not lov­ing it. “Ev­ery day was the same, and I knew I didn’t want my boss’ job,” she says.

Her exit strat­egy She ramped up her tech and graph­icde­sign skills and started schmooz­ing at in­dus­try events, where she landed gigs and clients—one of whom later of­fered Em­melie her dream job. To max­i­mize net­work­ing events, set up cof­fee dates with power play­ers be­fore you get there. “At the event, peo­ple will be rush­ing around and they’ll be harder to pin down,” says Good­man.

the take­away If you’re stuck in a rut, you’ve prob­a­bly got some free time on your hands. Use it to have fun and ex­plore new pos­si­bil­i­ties. Clock out at five and take a salsa class. Mix busi­ness with plea­sure by meet­ing peers and power play­ers in your in­dus­try over mo­ji­tos. Mine your new friends for in­for­ma­tion—where do they think your in­dus­try is go­ing? What op­por­tu­ni­ties are they stoked about? Make the most of this “down time” to meet, greet, and get newly in­spired.

Call Cen­ter Slave Jose­fina, 30, was trapped in a cube farm, an­swer­ing calls and on­line chats. Then she re­al­ized she had the per­fect get-out-of-jail card: the com­pany direc­tory.

Her exit strat­egy Jose­fina stud­ied her mar­ket­ing col­leagues’ work and then in­vited them to lunch. Later, she asked to shadow them, and started help­ing out dur­ing her breaks. “That made them re­al­ize they needed a ju­nior per­son in the depart­ment,” said Jose­fina. She got the job. Good­man says that reach­ing out to col­leagues who are slightly higher on the totem pole than you is a great es­cape plan, but it’s im­por­tant to do your home­work. “Don’t ask them things you could have Googled,” says Good­man.

the take­away When you’re jock­ey­ing the phones, you’re at the front lines of the com­pany—in some ways you know more about what’s go­ing on than the CEO. The helpline is also a great place to hone your sales­man­ship and de­velop one of life’s most use­ful skills: the abil­ity to con­verse and make peo­ple happy, even when you can’t give them ex­actly what they asked for.

Are you this­close

to giv­ing up?

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