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What to do when your new job turns out to be a big mistake

So, you’ve taken the leap, left your old job and  joined a new firm. But what was supposed to be your dream job, is slowly revealing itself to be a grave error of judgement on your part. What to do? Don’t panic…….

1.Give yourself time for adjusting to a new job

“Generally speaking, it takes three months to get used to a new environment, so don’t rush to conclude that you should quit right away,” says Hallie Crawford, the founder of Career Coaching.

Crawford says it’s easy to confuse the discomfort of being new and alien, with hating your job. If you’re within the first three months, then the disastrous feelings could simply be the fact that you’re overwhelmed with the strangeness of the new role.

Resolve to push through your first quarter with an open mind, and don’t expend too much energy regretting your choice,” said Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career expert at SixFigureStart. “Decide that you’re staying – at least that first quarter – and focus on getting used to your new manager, your new responsibilities and your new work environment.

“Then when you hit your 90-day mark, see how you feel and decide again for the next quarter,” she says.

2. Maintain the relationship with your old employer

If you left a good job that you liked well  enough and were on good terms when you left, then you could contact your old boss and explore the possibility of a return. But you’ll need to be ok with being labelled a boomerang employee.

“There's no shame in becoming a boomerang employee as long as you are happy to  go back to any negative aspects of your previous employer. Plenty of people return to their old jobs or go back to companies that they’ve worked for previously,” says Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. “They left because they felt the grass was greener, but it turned out it wasn’t.”

Cohen suggests reaching out to former colleagues as a matter of routine, without a specific agenda. Check in, ask about the old place, project positivity and keep those professional relationships strong, says Cohen.

3. Learn how to communicate effectively with your boss

Whenever you’re in a troubling career situation, the key is communication, says Laura Mazullo, HR recruitment specialist at East Side Staffing.  When evaluating your job, try too identify ways it can be improved. Ask yourself if certain things were better, could you stay and really thrive?

“If so, share this with your boss or with HR and propose solutions that may make the opportunity more enjoyable for you,” says Mazzullo.

If you have analyzed all of those potential scenarios and recognize that leaving is the only option, then you can begin a new job search.

4. Learn the art of making better career choices

When searching for a new job after a negative experience, self-awareness is of paramount importance. Work on gaining clarity before you start a new search. Do you know what you want? Can you articulate what type of corporate environment suits you best? Do you recognize what was missing from the last job? What didn’t work?

You don’t want to repeat the same bad decision, so take some time to figure out what needs to improve in the future.

5. Recognise when you have become a victim of circumstance

Is it that you don’t like your new job, or is it that they really don’t like you?

“Sometimes when we join a new company, there’s a misunderstanding about what’s expected of you, or there’s a different boss than who we initially interviewed with. Sometimes there are political events at the firm, or financial difficulties which mean they’re not committed to you, the new employee,” Cohen says.

Recognising when to cut your losses is an important skill; don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself, spring into action and start looking for a new job immediately.

6. Ask whether this is a pattern of destructive behaviour

If you don’t like your new job, ask yourself if this is a pattern of behaviour you are repeating?

If it is, or if a potential employer could interpret it that way, you really have to consider whether it’s in your best interest to quit or stick it out for a reasonable period of time before looking for something else.

Cohen describes working with a “runaway job candidate” who regularly experienced chronic “buyers’ remorse.” The candidate in question interviewed well: he attended multiple interviews and hiring managers loved him; he always got an offer. However, with an offer in-hand, he started having second thoughts and started looking at another company he’d interviewed with earlier. Then he'd go back to the first company, restart negotiations and tell them, “I understand why I was reluctant before, but I’ve reconsidered and I want to accept your offer.” He joined, regretted his decision and asked Cohen to help him out.

“Because he had a history of doing that sort of thing, it really damaged his reputation,” says Cohen. “Too much pro-crastinating in the world of financial services, and people will have you down as a nutcase.”

7. Ask yourself how best to prepare for your next interview

The next time you find yourself in an interview for a new job, make sure you’re ready to ask the right questions that help you evaluate the appropriateness of the fit.

“The best advice I can give you is to specifically identify what wasn’t working in the last job, so you know what to evaluate on interviews going forward,” Mazzullo says. “So often, when candidates tell me a career move was a disaster, they say ‘I wish I asked XYZ on the interview.’”

8. Is trusting your gut feelings about a job a good idea?

Yes, says Mazzullo. “I’ll often hear candidates say their gut was concerned about XYZ, but they said still said yes to the offer anyway,’” she says.

Address those instinctual concerns in an interview and give the employer a chance to explain something further for you; you may learn that you want to walk away from the process, or that you feel better about joining the firm. And they will appreciate your honesty and frank approach.

9. Is it OK to take a vacation at a new job?

Yes! If you've given yourself a fair amount of time to settle into your new gig and you're still not feeling it, then find out how many vacation personal days you've accrued and request some time off. Hit the reset button, unplug from work and come back refreshed. Returning with a fresh outlook and a positive mindset could help you turn the situation around into a more positive one.

10. Quitting outright should be a last resort, but it’s not the end of the world

Traditional wisdom says you don’t quit before you have another job offer, so you can say you have left voluntarily. But increasingly there isn’t as much stigma attached to leaving a job without one to go to, and on Wall Street it’s quite common for people to be displaced multiple times.

11. Consider an outside-the-box career change

Maybe it's not simply that your new employer isn't a good fit. There's a chance you're burnt out in the financial services industry altogether. Have you ever dreamed of becoming a Hollywood agent or pastry chef, starting your own craft brewery or winery, or designing swimwear or robots? If so, and you can afford the time without a pay-cheque, then now may be the time to take the plunge and go for it.

Photo by David Pupaza on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Thompson Insider Comment
  • Ir
    Irish girl +2
    21 January 2024

    I wish this article had expanded a bit and talked about what to do when you find yourself starting a new job or a different career path and you find that the job was not what you were told it was or better yet, the environment is not at all what you were told it was.

    I recently switched careers and took a job. I was very thrilled about the prospect. I am almost four months in, so I’m past what would be considered the curve based on this article. Although I like the work, when I initially interviewed I was told that I would be taking over the office and that if I found a better way of doing things that I wouldn’t just hear that this is the way we’ve always done it. In fact, I hear that daily! Not just daily but repeatedly throughout the day. As a matter of fact, I have been told to refer to how they’ve always done it in the past. If I bring up a better way to do something, you know work smarter not harder, the go to each and every time is this is the way we’ve always done it.

    Not only that, but every morning I come into a litany of Post-it notes all over my desk of things that are “wrong”. By wrong, I mean this is not the way we have always done it….lol! The work is spot on, just not the way they always do it. I came in one day to find that my boss had gone through my desk, I guess he can, he owns it, found notes that I had written, and left me feedback on the fact that he didn’t like the color pen I was using for my own personal notes to assist me in my job.

    I’ve been told not to use Post-it notes when I used one Post-it note to jot down information that I would be referring to repeatedly throughout the day for the next few weeks. I did this to cut down on me having going back-and-forth having to look this info up. He just doesn’t like me using Post-it notes. A Post-it note, one!

    Since being hired, there have been in the past four months two weeks that he closed company the company down because it was the slow season. Meaning that I did not get paid for those two weeks. Both were right around holidays, which is difficult to go without a paycheck right after Thanksgiving or right after Christmas. That also wasn’t brought up to me during the interview process believe me hard pass! I also just recently worked the last federal holiday. Nobody else was in. He never told me that he was closing for the day. I reached out to him to see if we were open and he didn’t respond until after 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Why? Because he was up against a deadline. I was there working, so why should he say anything? So he allowed me to continue throughout the day told me that he was coming in and then texted me later in the day to say he wouldn’t be coming after all. I will absolutely guarantee you that I will not be being paid time and a half for working that federal holiday. I already know it. So, to compound all the other issues, he has no respect for my time on my family‘s time.

    With all of this being said, I absolutely turned in my resignation, effective immediately! And I have zero guilt about it. Before anybody goes crazy on me about being a millennial I am far from it. I’m closer to retirement age than I am to being a millennial.

    with that being said, what I would say is, if you start a position, after three months as this article, suggest if you see or feel that the position is not the correct fit for you you need to leave. You need to take action immediately, albeit getting your resume together, starting interviewing, networking, etc.

    I think that after the first three months, you should absolutely know whether or not it is the right position in corporate culture for you. After three months, if things are not improving, they are not going to.

  • My
    31 December 2022

    Is there a way to downvote this? I was looking for advice on how to feel better and this article has made me feel so much worse. Why does it need to be assumed that there is a destructive pattern of behavior? Sometimes things simply do not work out. We find that there are mis-representations and toxic environments that were not apparent during the interview process. Having a new job not work out is a very difficult thing to go through, and I do not feel the tone of this article acknowledges that. Of course we need to examine where we went wrong, but anyone can make this kind of error, and it's likely to happen at least once or twice over the span of a 30-year career.

  • MA
    23 July 2019

    I just changed jobs and after day 2 really don’t feel good about it. My boss is an MBA who manages like she is reading out of a textbook of what she learned.
    I liked what I did before but just the area I worked in not the whole place but that job I left is gone. I will give it a few months and hope for the best.

  • Be
    Bella Betcher
    18 July 2018

    I experienced the same. I just changed the job. Sometimes reality differs from our expectations, and it's normal. You are always able to change the situation.

  • D
    4 May 2018

    Also, a co-worker was recording me working on the computer with her iPhone. Is that legal?

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