If you’re like most professionals, you had to go through some trial and error to get to a job that was right for you. Most of us have had at least one really rotten job in our careers and many may still be complaining about a current bad situation. But successful professionals learn how to turn lousy situations into opportunities. The following tips can help you make lemonade out of the career “lemons” you have been handed.

1. Think outside your cubicle.

Mark Mehler is one of the founders of CareerXroads, a recruiting technology and consulting firm. Mehler says that often a person with a bad job is unhappy with the position and not necessarily the company. If your work problems stem from personality conflicts or issues isolated to your position, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Mehler suggests investigating other options within your company. “Find your niche rather than just giving up,” he says. He suggests using your time at the company to network with executives, find a mentor and learn about other departments with the intent that you can transfer into a better position.

2. Take what you need.

Every job, no matter what it is, gives you something very important: experience. Don’t write off the job as a situation that has nothing to offer. “Use it as a stepping stone, even if it is a bad job,” Mehler says. The trick is to look at this experience in the right way. “You need to look at what skills you are learning or what’s around you to enrich your job,” he says. For example, you may just be answering phones and running errands all day, but this means that you are gaining valuable communication and organizational skills. You’ll be able to beef up your résumé and be more valuable to a potential employer.

3. Take note of what you do not like.

One of the best things you can know when you are searching for a job is what you do not want. Yes, you might be working for the boss from hell, but the struggle will teach you what to stay away from the next time. If you’re employed by a company with questionable practices, you will learn how to better choose an employer. Or, you also might learn what job descriptions to avoid. You may want to run screaming from your nightmare, but don’t do it without knowing what makes the job so bad.

4. Take advantage of opportunities only available in the workplace.

Many companies offer training classes, seminars and other professional development opportunities to employees. Take advantage of these career boosters. Mehler says you should try to learn additional skills to enhance the job you’re in and the job you hope to get. Sign up for company-sponsored training sessions and courses and ask for more responsibility to learn new skills. “Try to expand on the things you want to do and like to do,” Mehler says. The key is to not sit around waiting for opportunities to find you. “Go get what you want,” he says.

The bottom line is that every situation is what you make of it, Mehler asserts. You can choose to go to work every day and wait for a better opportunity, or you can proactively learn from the experience.

From MSN Careers

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