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Unhappy At Work? 6 Signs It’s the Job, Not You, Sis

It's not the playa, it's the game.

Workin' Girl

When you find yourself counting down the number of days you can take PTO or how you can finesse calling off to start looking for another position in your first 90 days, you may be suffering from a case of saying "yes" to the wrong job. Here's an example: During the pandemic, Jorden Patterson, a freelancer in the Midwest, landed the perfect job. After being laid off from her previous gig at an insurance company and spending months surviving off unemployment checks, she happily accepted a call center position.

Her interview process went at the speed of lightning, and she got a call back before she could even get home. When she attended her training on the first day of work, she realized that she made a mistake. "What the trainer shared about the position was not what the recruiter told me in the interview," says Jorden. "Before lunchtime, I knew that the job wasn't for me and I had to have an exit plan."

Jorden is one of the 49 percent of U.S. workers who are not in love with their job according to Forbes. People feel stuck in a company or a position that may pay their bills but doesn't feed their passion to work.

Whether you are looking for a job to fulfill a sense of purpose or just crave a dope work environment until your next professional adventure, you deserve to be at a company that you don't have to resent later.

Here are six warning signs that will help you avoid a work nightmare and steer you toward the job of your dreams:

1. The Job Hired You Very Quickly

Beware of a company that's thirsty to fill a position via a short process. The average hiring turnaround time is 27.5 days because recruiters value finding quality talent. A fast hire may show that the company is looking to fill a role with a warm body by any means necessary. Being placed in a role faster than you can blink can cause anxiety and stress because it is possible that you can inherit problems that haven't been resolved (i.e. lack of processes, distrustful work environment, minimal training; the list can go on!).

2. They've Gotten Trash Reviews From Previous Employees

If you can browse on Indeed.com or Glassdoor on any given day and see more negative employee feedback than positive, you've got yourself a doozie. Researching employee experiences can give you an idea of the company culture and how management treats its employees. While some reviews may have a little bias or exaggeration, the volume of bad reviews might tell you everything you need to know.

3. There's A Misalignment Of Values

As Drake eloquently told us, "Know yourself, know your worth." Quiet as it's kept, what a company stands for can play a part in whether a job is a good fit for you or not. Employees who are satisfied with their company's values report 20 percent higher alignment with work culture. If you find yourself not feeling a company's values, you have to examine your own to make sure the stars are aligned for employment there.

4. The Company Lied In The Job Description

It's been proven time and time again that a job description may not always match the actual duties. If you find yourself often frustrated, bored, or confused in your role, the reality of the job just might not fit what you dreamed it would be. It is important to work in a position that fulfills your expectations so that you can bring your best self to work. Anything less can cause you not perform well and could damage your professional reputation if you don't do well at work.

5. You Don't Have Support From Your Supervisors Or Coworkers

Research shows that 44 percent of women feel unsupported at work. If you hit the ground running with no guidance from your boss or coworkers, that may be a sign that your company is not setting you up for success. Observe who trains you, how they train you, and how confident you feel in the role when (or if) you get any training at all.

6. It's Not The Company, It's The Job

Let's face it - sometimes, it's not the workplace or you. It's the gig itself, sis.

Jorden says that while she thought she was hired too quickly and wanted to skedaddle from her role, she realized that though she liked the company, she just disliked her position.

"After a few weeks on the job, I saw other roles that I got excited about," says Jorden. "My exit plan to leave the company turned into my blueprint to get a promotion to something that I think is a better fit."

Recognize the difference between being unhappy with the duties in your job description and being unhappy with a company. If promotion opportunities are available and you match the company's culture and vibe, stick it out to see if you can get another role. Otherwise, take the red flag for what it is and move on to the next job that's a better fit for your skills, aspirations, and experiences. Period.

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Featured image by Shutterstock

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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