Ask Arturo: Help! I Don’t Like My New Job

Dear Arturo,

I think I just made a huge mistake. I quit my previous job because a new opportunity came up, but this new position is not at all what I signed up for…what are my options?

John

This is a great question. People nowadays bounce around from job to job more frequently than they did 10, 20 years ago. In light of this fact it only makes sense that a person might find themselves in position that they’re unhappy with. Sure, we all have had a boring job before, but most of which we are able to “stick out “until we find something else. Every once in a while though we wind up in a position that turns out to be terrible fit. Is this an accurate description of your situation? If so, continue reading!

The first thing you need to do is figure out why the job isn’t what you thought it was going to be. Perhaps your expectations too high?  For example, if you’ve been there a week and are wondering why you’re not leading a team in an Agile Sprint or giving rousing pep talks at staff meetings, you might need to slow your roll a little bit. We see this a lot: New employees are eager to show what they can do but aren’t given the avenues and opportunities to do so right out the gate. If this sounds right, consider readjusting your expectations and changing your frame of mind.

If it’s not your frame of mind then, ask yourself: “What, exactly, did I sign up for when you took the job?” Do you feel like there’s a discrepancy between what you signed up for and what it is you’re actually doing? If so, is it that the job is still ramping up, or is it that you’ve gotten the lay of the land at the company and you’re feeling duped?

I’m guessing it’s the latter. Bad news there…you’re not the first (and won’t be the last) to be duped by a job. If you have a good relationship with some of your peers, you can subtly ask around and find out why the position was open. Technically, this would have been a good question to ask during the job interview, but then again, the hiring manager might not be completely honest with you. After all, they’re not going to tell you that the last three people to hold the position stormed out due to mind numbing boredom, now are they?

So, what can you do? Storming out or not showing up isn’t exactly good for reference purposes.

Firstly, let’s analyze where the real problem lies. Are you given new responsibilities that aren’t technically supposed to be your job? If so, do you really mind? If you’re still doing the job that you were hired to do in the first place just with added responsibilities, it might not be so bad to have some other bullet points to add to a resume. If this is the case, try to simply adapt to the situation. I know, I know, no one wants to do more work than they have to, especially if you aren’t being compensated for it, but sometimes you have to take one for the team. However, if truly feel the job you’re doing is not the job you interviewed for, let your manager know as soon as possible.

But if it’s not extra work and, instead, you’re feeling like a square peg in a round hole at your current company, talk to your manager. You want to know a secret? It takes a ton of time, effort, resources, and money to bring you on board. Hiring managers hate hiring because it’s time consuming and risky. So, when they do find the right candidate and the candidate comes on board…guess what? They want them to stick around! They don’t want to go through the screening process all over again. This means you have leverage! At the very least your manager will listen to your concerns and will probably be willing to work with you too.

It’s a slightly different if you’re employed with a company via a recruiter. You may feel a bit more…expendable, since the burden of replacing you falls to the staffing company, not the company you’re working at. But guess what? They don’t want to have to start over either. They want the position to work out. The beauty of this situation is that you have a middleman to help—you can call your recruiter and be honest. They’ll help out anyway they can and, if it means ultimately finding you something else, they’ll do that too.

If you’ve already made up your mind that you want to leave this position, and you’re on good terms with your previous employer, then it might be time to start thinking about contacting them. If you’re not on good terms, then I suppose it’s time to resume the job search. At this point, I’d like to give a shameless plug for reaching out to a recruiter or two because their favorite type of candidate is one who is currently working but looking for a new role at the same time. It gives the recruiter flexibility, but they know that if they take the time to find you the right opportunity, you’re not going to be starving.

Either way, use this failed attempt to move to greener pastures as a way to improve your approach to interviews. Let it help you ask the right questions. Next time, ask the hiring manager why the job is open. Ask how much of your job the “other duties as assigned” bullet point will really be. Ask him/her what they like most about their current company and what they like least. It’s not rude to ask these questions; it’s smart.

It a tough predicament to have made a career move only to feel like you’ve fallen a few rungs down the ladder, but it’s not uncommon. How you course-correct is up to you, but whether it’s sticking it out or cutting your losses and moving on, hopefully you’ll learn something from the experience. Good luck!

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