Miserable at Your New Job?
Introducing Our Newest On-the-Job Advice Series
You go to school, graduate from college. You’re taught how to think critically, how to code, how to write an inbound marketing plan, how to balance a ledger, and so on. You have great skills and you’re eager to showcase them on the job.
And so you start your first job after graduation – or even your third or fourth – and things are going well in the “showcasing your skills” side. But then….trouble! Something happens:
- The first person who befriended you is a drama queen and tries to envelop you in the drama, too.
- Your boss is a bona fide nasty person.
- That same boss shames you publicly.
- You’re asked to do something that’s not illegal, but it just feels “off” to you.
No one told you about this!
No one told you about how to navigate the real world of work, the work of gossip, backstabbing, conflict, and so on. The stuff of getting along with others when they:
- See the world through a different lens than you do.
- Believe that it’s a dog-eat-dog world so get it while you can before someone else gets it (or, conversely, everyone is kind and wants the best for everyone else).
- Don’t have the same work ethic – or easy going ways – as you do.
- And so on.
Don’t get us wrong: there’s a lot to really like and enjoy about the workplace. The camaraderie. The skills-building opportunities. The satisfaction of working as a team to finish a critical project that your boss loves and which was completed early and below budget.
But there are landmines hiding in the workplace field. And no one – not your parents, not your professors, not your career advisor – told you about them, possibly even never hinted about them, let alone taught you how to handle them when they come up and snap at your heels, causing stress, angst and worry.
In other words, you didn’t even know what you didn’t know!
That ends now!
This post is the first in a series of twelve over the next year that will help you learn “what you didn’t know you didn’t know” about the workplace and how to handle these different situations should you encounter them.
And our first topic?
When you’re a month into your new job and you’re miserable
It can be hard to tell how much you’re going to like a job before you’re actually in the job. After all, the recruiters and hiring managers you meet during the interview process are on their best behavior. So are your potential new colleagues.
You’re at the office interviewing for maybe two to four hours, tops. You can’t ascertain with any accuracy what it will be like to work there, toil beside your colleagues, perform your actual duties on actual projects, etc.
So, don’t be alarmed if this happens. And – hint – it happens a lot: as much as 33 percent of new hires leave their jobs within 90 days. In fact, as many as 16.45 percent of people quit within the first week!
They leave because:
- Their boss was a jerk.
- The work was different than they expected.
- The work wasn’t enjoyable.
- They changed their mind on the type of work they wanted to do.
- They didn’t receive enough training.
What you didn’t know you didn’t know
While it’s true that starting any new job is stressful and could have you worried that you made a bad choice, and that most of us are trained by parents, teachers, coaches, older friends and family members, etc. to “finish what we start,” you don’t have to stay in a new job just because you started it.
Yes, it is best if you give the job at least six months before deciding you need to leave. But if it’s truly a bad fit, there’s a good chance you’ll know so within the first month. Even within the first week, especially if you were “catfished” during the hiring process about what the job entailed.
So here it is: It really is Ok to leave a job within the first few weeks. Really. It’s Ok. (Just don’t make a habit of it.)
You’re probably worried it will look bad on your resume to have a job for only a few weeks. You needn’t be:
- If you were unemployed for several months when you accepted the job, if you quit quickly, don’t worry about putting the short-term job on your resume. Just list your job before this awful job as your previous job.
If you quit a job to take the new, awful job, things are a bit more difficult, but not a disaster. List your previous job as your last job and make sure to list the month/year you left. (Don’t lie and say you’re still there.)
As you interview, you’ll probably be asked why you left the last job in such a short time:
- Tell the truth, but professionally: “It wasn’t what I expected and I felt it best to cut my losses quickly.”
Which does bring us to an important point:
- If you quit a job to take a job that turns out to be terrible, it’s truly best to stick it out as long as you can…while making your search for a new job a juggernaut so that you can get out of there ASAP.
You’ll no doubt be asked, “Why do you want to leave a job after just X months?” Your answer? The truth:
- “It isn’t what I expected and it doesn’t utilize my skills and knowledge to the best of my abilities.“(Which probably is true, by the way.)
More “what you didn’t know” posts coming up
As mentioned above, this is the first of 12 posts on how to handle workplace situations no one told you to expect.
Our next post will discuss why it’s important to be friendly at work, but not too friendly.