Talent Acquisition

Fake It ‘Til You Make It: A Lesson in Work Ethic

Occasionally it happens. You start a new job, only to realize it’s not what you had hoped. Perhaps the job was oversold by the employer, or it’s a new role you thought you would enjoy more. Or maybe you just weren’t in a financial position to turn down the job offer. Regardless, what’s done is done, and you’re now having trouble finding the motivation to give it your all each day.

Before you let your frustration affect your work, or decide to jump right into the next job opportunity that becomes available, here’s a piece of advice – fake it ‘til you make it.

As someone whose career path has taken a number of surprising twists and turns, I can attest to the value of putting 110 percent effort into your job, only to realize the unexpected rewards months or years later. Of course, we all need some amount of job satisfaction, and I’m certainly not suggesting you remain at a job where you’re miserable.

However, as you contemplate the next stage of your job search, here are a few reasons why “faking” enthusiasm by putting in the same amount of effort as you would for a job you love can lead to “making” a positive impact on your career.

Good Things Can Happen Right Where You Are

The biggest argument for not allowing your work ethic to wane at a job you’re less than passionate about is the uncertainty of what the future may bring. While things aren’t guaranteed to improve, they often do. Upper management may change. So may your job’s responsibilities. Your work on a current project may be noticed by another team or manager that may offer you a position that’s a much better fit for your abilities.

One thing is for sure – nothing great is ever accomplished with minimal effort. Don’t let an apathetic attitude toward the present affect a bright future.

Don’t Let One Mistake Ruin Your Tenure

Despite the recent controversy over how much tenure an employee should have before leaving a job, few would argue that leaving after only a few weeks or months never looks good. Resuming your job search immediately after starting a new role is a red flag to future employers that something went terribly wrong.

While you may think you can cover it up on your resume or LinkedIn profile with some creative maneuvering, employers know other employers in the same industry, and you may find them reluctant to hire you for fear of a similar outcome.

Leave for the Right Reasons, Not the Wrong Ones

Employers understand that not every hire will be a perfect fit for their role or the company culture. The best thing you can do is learn from the work, the company and your coworkers before moving on to a job that’s a better fit, while trying your best to contribute as much as possible along the way.

The worst thing you can do, however, is to allow your misery and frustration with the situation to affect your work performance and relationship with your coworkers. While your departure may be inevitable, it’s better to be remembered as a team player who tried their best than a toxic coworker who everyone couldn’t wait to be rid of.

You Never Know the Impact You’ll Make

Ever known someone who did their job so well that once they left, they were remembered, talked about, emulated, and even recruited by the employer of another former employee? Both employers and recruiters consider these people invaluable, as they teach and inspire others to be their best. Make every effort to be remembered this way, as you never know how those you impact will, in turn, impact your future career.

On the other hand, have you ever known someone who only does good work when the assignment interests them, but other times is unmotivated and unreliable? Do you want to work with them in the future? Neither does anyone else.

Few of us will ever follow a straight and narrow career path without a few wrong turns along the way. Ludwig van Beethoven once said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” Similarly, while accepting a job offer that turns out to be a poor fit for your skills or personality may be insignificant, refusing to perform the job to the best of your ability out of frustration or anger is inexcusable. And while true passion and motivation can’t be “faked,” sometimes it needs to be mustered from where it may not normally exist. Those who can display the same level of excellence at a job they love as at one they hate are the ones who will truly “make” it.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.