Unhappy After Six Months? How to Troubleshoot Chronic Job Hopping

For most people, the job hunt itself is stressful. It’s hard to get your resume just right. It’s hard to get the interview.The offer is even harder.

For others, though, the process is a little too easy. They blast through the job hunt process and accept the new offer, only to find themselves unhappy and looking within six months.

We all make mistakes, so realizing a job isn’t a good fit early on isn’t a bad thing. However, if you find yourself falling into a pattern of accepting jobs and becoming quickly dissatisfied, it may signal a mismatch of expectations and goals.

If that sounds like you, here are four questions you should ask yourself during your job hunt to  help you zero in on an opportunity you will actually enjoy:

1. Where do I fit in?

Finding the right culture fit can be very difficult. And that often contributes to high turnover and job-hopping as you figure out what you like and don’t like. It makes sense that this would be difficult because it’s hard to get a true feel for a company’s culture from an hour-long interview.

For this task, you have two tools at your disposal. First, use your computer to investigate each company’s employer brand. This will give you a sense of how the company approaches its culture and how you would fit in before you take the tour. You can also set an expectation for the environment itself and see how it measures up to your in-person interview.

Second, Simply Hired’s recent partnership with eHarmony offers a tool to track down job opportunities based on culture fit rather than location or openings. Check it out.

2. Who do I enjoy working with?

You need to find “your people” whom can help you enjoy a working day and de-stress when the day is done. Take a piece of paper and consider all of your former coworkers. Who did you connect with right away? Who did you have trouble connecting with? Try to see beyond roles and positions and into character and personality. Write down the traits that come to you and use that list to help you identify the right work environment for you.

For example, perhaps you felt very closely connected to several people in different  offices because of a random shared hobby of bike racing. Why not connect with a local bike racing group and see where the happiest people work? You don’t need to follow their lead and apply to their company, but you may discover some actionable trends that you can apply to your own job hunt, such as everyone working at small companies, large companies or startups. That’s the kind of hint that can help you pursue a job you can enjoy beyond a few months.

3. Who do I want to serve?

Every job is a service job. Whether you’re on the executive team or in the warehouse, the ultimate purpose of your job is to help the company’s customer do something better. Who do you actually want to help? Which industries and causes speak to you? You may not end up in a nonprofit because of this desire, but it can help you identify groups of people you want to serve that will help you connect with the job you’re doing.

For example, if you love pets and animals, consider looking for work in an industry related to them. Look at corporate positions at companies such as Petco or Care.com, or use Simply Hired’s custom search for dog-friendly companies. Working a job like accounting or account executive will be easier if your values align with the company’s overall mission.

What is this company really offering?

If you follow these steps and identify a great opportunity, don’t jump on it just yet. If all of these values align, it still might not be the right opportunity for you. Be careful about assessing the opportunity and the responsibilities accurately to make sure that the reality will align with your expectations of the position.

To better align your expectations with the day-to-day, ask every question that comes to mind. Ask about the job’s responsibilities, daily schedule and biggest frustrations. Ask why the last person moved on or what this role is typically like five years from now.

Give the interviewer every opportunity to paint a detailed picture of the position so that you are well-informed about the downsides as well as the upsides. You may hesitate to “cause a fuss” in an interview, but this works both ways. HR managers want to connect with thoughtful, confident employees who want to work for them. Asking questions in a professional and respectful manner will establish your transparent and detailed work ethic.

Have you taken a new job only to find out it’s not a good fit a few months in? Leave a note in the comments to share how you plan to avoid this scenario the next time around.