You landed a new job. Score!
Most of the time, you’re pretty psyched to start a new career chapter. But what happens if after a few days, weeks or months you realise your brand new gig isn’t such a great fit after all? Maybe the work culture isn’t what you expected, you’re really clashing with your new team or the actual work you’re doing isn’t what you signed up for. It’s a really tricky situation. Should you quit your job, stick it out or try to find something new? We tapped some experts to get their creative strategies for how to deal when you realise you wish you hadn’t taken that new job.
1. Try to fix the problem
Of course, the first thing you should do is check in with your boss to see if the problem can be fixed. “Understand why it’s not working out,” says Leila Hock, career strategy coach and founder of Alignment Coaching. “Remember that you can always learn something from any situation. This might be your time to learn how to work with difficult people. Make that your main work goal and trust that it will serve you in the future.” Fair enough. “If your work isn’t fulfilling or challenging, set goals and be proactive for the type of work you seek. If you learn quickly that it’s a poor culture fit, seek out others in the organisation that feel more like you.”
It’s definitely worth it to try to find any allies that you can, so you have people to connect with. “No organisation is homogenous, so chances are, there’ll be someone you can befriend and share your challenges with. If they’ve been around longer, they might even show you the ropes on how to deal with some of the challenges you’re facing.”
2. See if you can make an easy exit
If it seems like the problem isn’t fixable, you have a few options, according to Kathi Elster, career and executive coach, co-author of titles like Mean Girls at Work and co-host of the Podcast My Crazy Office. If not much time has passed since you started, and you were offered another job, see if it’s still available, she suggests. Also, if you liked your old job, it’s worth seeing if it’s still available. “If you left your last job on good terms, this might work. If you burnt a bridge or you quit without notice it won’t,” she explains.
“Let’s say that you left on good terms. See if your old boss is available for an early morning coffee, and when you’re face to face only (don’t do this in an email or text!), you can say something like: ‘Unfortunately I learned a few things about my new job once I was there that are in conflict with my values. Is there any way I can come back, either full or part-time or even on a freelance basis?’” The answer to this question might be no, but it’s worth a try if you feel there’s a chance it could work.
Another option is to try to convert your new job into a freelance one so that you don’t have to spend as much time in the office. “This can be tough to accomplish, but I’ve helped clients do it,” admits Elster. “Be sure to approach your new boss in person and, depending on why this job is not working out, you can explain that your personal situation has changed.” You can also tell them that you feel you’d be more productive working from home because of the working conditions at the company. After all, “Asking if it’s a possibility is not the same as saying it has to be that way,” she notes. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
3. Get back on the job hunt
If none of the above is working for you and you don’t feel like you can stick it out, the next step is to start looking for a new position. “Staying at a job that’s a bad fit can erode your self-confidence,” notes Elster, which is definitely not something you want. On the other hand, it’s ideal to stay in any job for a year if possible, Hock says. “Just focus on what you’re learning — about yourself, about organisations, about others or about your technical work. Focus on moving forward and staying engaged in your community outside of your new job to keep yourself open to other opportunities.” But, she does say that “If a perfect opportunity falls in your lap within the first year, don’t be afraid to take it.”
4. Prioritise self-care
If you hate your job, taking care of yourself in your off-hours becomes even more important. “Self-care is critical,” says Elster. “Be sure you’re sleeping and eating right and don’t forget to exercise.” Hanging with your friends is another must. “Stay engaged in your community outside of work so you keep your perspective,” recommends Hock. “Remember that you are not your job, and you are more than what you do. Pursue your interests and hobbies, volunteer and do your best to leave work at work.” We couldn’t agree more!