Beam me up Scotty – I think I’ve just landed in the wrong job!

Ever had that nausea-inducing feeling when you realize that the shiny new job you just spent all your time and effort to secure is not all it was cracked up to be? Should you persevere and try to make a go of it – or should you just cut your losses and move on?

Most jobs have a used-by date: either we’ve simply outgrown our role; or gone as far as we can through no fault of the employer. In fact, it may be beneficial for many professionals to limit their time with a single employer to around 5 years if they are no longer learning and progressing.

But what if you are already having negative feelings about your job or your employer during the typical 3- or 6-month probationary period? This has happened to many of us at some point during our careers. So what are the warning signs and what are the implications of staying in what is fast becoming the wrong job, when our better judgement is telling us we need to move on and fast?

Some warning signs include:

  • Discovering the duties of the role are not what was portrayed during the hiring process;
  • Seeing a lot of glum and solemn faces in the office;
  • Being frequently approached by other employees spouting a lot of workplace gossip and negativity;
  • Hearing more than one person describe company improprieties or management misconduct; or
  • High staff turnover or totally disengaged management.

An even worse sign is when you realise payday has come and gone and you didn’t get paid, followed by excuses that there is some glitch in payroll or that the company is still awaiting payments from a customer. These are only some of the red flags.

Upon reflection you might look back and realise you had a feeling you’ve been oversold on the job and organisation during the interview, or that you were actually asked very few questions by the interviewer during the hiring process. Those who are presently out of work are usually the most vulnerable, closely followed by those who are already deeply dissatisfied with their current employment.

So, it pays to have a plan in case you find yourself in a new job where the warning signs are all around you, and you need to quickly ascertain if you will do yourself more harm than good by staying:

  • If there are issues relating to poor communication from a boss, you may be able to have a polite “clear the air” conversation and improve your working relationship.
  • If negative company “rumours” are the product of a few people who may simply have a bad boss then you may be able to look past it and still remain engaged with your employer.

But in some instances you may need to resign. These reasons include improprieties (examples being financial, governance or even harassment, bullying or abuse), or lack of pay when payday comes.

The implications of making an obvious bad career move and staying too long are obvious. If you have taken a permanent role and stayed for less than 9-12 months, your next prospective employer may easily overlook your resume, making the assumption that something didn’t work out. If you continue to stay well after the time you should have already left then it will only become harder to leave and even harder to accomplish anything that may impress your next employer. If your employer is the subject of litigation you should consider moving on immediately and keep any reference to them off your resume altogether, never mentioning them to a prospective employer.

When you stay too long with a bad employer, eventually you will have to leave and in all likelihood, in a very negative and cynical state of mind.

It pays to do your research. During the interview for your next role, make a list of questions and make sure you ask them, especially these:

  • What is the management style of the person you will be reporting to?
  • Why is the position vacant?
  • What is the financial position of the company?
  • What is the exact role, and what are the precise responsibilities?

And don’t forget to ask for a copy of the employment contract.

Finally, if things seem to be going off the rails early, have somebody beam you up so you can get out of there in a hurry!

Posted by Scott Spaulding

If you find yourself in the wrong job, or simply want a career “health check”, contact Bravo Consulting for more information about how we can help you make that all-important career move.

BonnieSue Nevin

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