What if the dream job you finally landed ends up being, while maybe not quite a nightmare from which you can't wake, at least not what you signed on for?
Maybe your job responsibilites aren't what they were advertised to be. Or maybe your co-workers are impossible to deal with or the company offers little room for advancement.
Whatever the reason, you are not powerless. Here are some tips what you can do when your new job isn't working out -- and what you should do in the event you can't do anything about it.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Before you do anything, Mike Connolly, a Yahoo! Voices contributor, suggested placing the following "5 sanctions of new job survival" on yourself before reacting to either real or perceived negatives of your job:
- Have faith in your abilities.
- Practice patience.
- Reflect on the reasons you left your last company.
- Lean on friends and family.
- Make a friend or two at work.
If you've employed the above strategies and the situation hasn't improved, then by all means speak up to your boss. Just be sure your concerns are expressed within the context of the job. Marky Stein, president of Parachutes, suggested in an interview in the New York Times that employees who fear they were misled about the job keep a log of their daily work activities for at least two weeks. This should provide detailed proof of how and where an employee's job differed from what it was supposed to be.
2. Keep An Open Mind
How flexible should you be, say, if your boss asks you to embrace an unexpected, or different, role? Bob Giambatista, an assistant professor at Lehigh University, made the point that accepting the new demand won't go unnoticed by your new employer. By being flexible as a job evolves, you could gain enough leverage to shift later into a job there you really want. In the short term at least, you'll have an opportunity to learn some new skills on the job, which can only serve to be helpful no matter what you end up doing.
Still, there has to be some give and take, said Carol Frohlinger, co-author of "Her Place at the Table: A Woman's Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success." If it's clear your employer shows no interest in working to improve your situation, it may be time to take fresh stock of the situation. "Once you've made an effort to clear things up, if it's not a salvageable situation, you need to move on," Frohlinger says in her interview with the New York Times.
How long should you give it? Ellen Ensher, associate professor of management at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, told the New York Times 90 days is a fair amount of time to give a new job. She noted that many employers use the first six weeks for training new hires, making this initial phase an unreliable representation of a job. "The first six weeks are always filled with problems," she said.
3. Different Doesn’t Mean “Bad” - Except When It Does.
If, after all this, you know the job isn't for you -- it's never going to be for you -- and "different" in this case really does equal "bad," then it probably is time to move on. Before you dust off your resume and begin perusing openings, you may want to seriously reflect on whether perhaps the problem wasn't that the particular job didn't live up to your expectations but rather the particular occupation.
It's possible that the field you trained to work in is not, in the end, a good fit for you. If you suspect this may be the case, despair not. It is never too late to retrain for an altogether different career, especially with all the on-campus and online education and training options currently available. You may even decide to remain at your current job and pursue additional education simultaneously.
An unsuccessful job experience shouldn't be viewed as a failure. It's likely you picked up some new skills and learned a few things (both what and what not to do) -- all of which you'll be taking with you, either to a new job or possibly a whole new career.
Michelle Filippini is an editor and writer based out of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She received her B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and enjoys writing nonfiction as well as on issues in the educational realm. She is also a contributor to OnlineColleges.com.