You’re a month into your new job and you’ve realized that your new boss is a micromanager, the office culture is toxic, and the work is a lot less interesting than you thought. What should you do if you hate your new job?
Let’s say you’ve already tried to address the situation with your manager, and/or by seeking advice from others within or outside of the company. Nothing has worked. How long should you stick around? And if you resign after a short time, how will this affect your career?
A lot depends on whether you can obtain a new role before leaving your current one. Most often, this is the best scenario.
Should you try to stay for a year?
Maybe. It may look better on your next resume if you do–or it may not.
Ask yourself these two questions, as a quick little cost-and-benefits analysis:
“At the end of a year, am I likely to have measurable accomplishments to add to my resume, such as challenging projects completed, process improved, new skills learned, or even a positive annual evaluation?” Some jobs lend themselves to such accomplishments, while others are more like a treadmill: you get on, you keep running, and when you get off things look the same as they did before. Just showing a year’s employment may not be worth much if you can’t honestly say you were successful.
“Is it worth the stress and unhappiness I’m likely to go through? Could staying on this job be hazardous to my mental and physical health and my relationships?”
If your answer to either or both questions is “No, it’s not going to add to my resume and/or it’s not worth the stress,” then you need to look for a new job.
What if you decide to stay for a year, and then change your mind partway through? Would, say, a six-month position look okay on your resume? Chances are it wouldn’t, nor would a lengthy gap if you leave it off. So, if you’re going to change jobs, often it’s better to do it sooner.
Should you leave now?
In addition to saving stress for yourself, leaving sooner may actually be better for the company as well. Their training investment in you may still be minimal. They may not be depending on you as much as they will later. It’s even possible that their second- or third-choice candidate may still be available. Furthermore, you may be able to leave the job off your resume without showing much of a gap.
When you’re ready to resign, sure you quit in the right way to protect your reputation.
How will this short-term job affect your next job search? It depends.
That depends on, among other factors, whether you can obtain a new job before resigning. If you do, your resume will show a short-term role followed immediately by a new job that will hopefully be long and successful. The longer will help make up for the short one.
Whether or not you’re able to secure a new job before resigning the disappointing one, there are ways the short-term role may affect your upcoming job search.
Although you can leave a short-term job off your resume, you may need to include it when you fill out job applications. Read the instructions very carefully. If they include a requirement to “list all past jobs” and you don’t do so, it can cost you the job, either before or after you’ve been hired. Don’t let one short stint cause another!
If the subject of the short-term job comes up in an interview, you might say something like this:
“When I interviewed for the role, I was told (or “received the impression,” if things weren’t stated so clearly) that I would be doing X / that I’d have the autonomy to make decision such as Y / that the culture was very Z. Once I started, the reality was substantially different and it wasn’t a good fit. I realized it would be better for both myself and the company if I bowed out sooner rather than later. What I learned from this experience is that I need to ask better questions in interviews and make sure my next position is a good fit regarding X/Y/Z. The job we’re talking about today sounds just right.”
As with any interview answer about a negative situation, your response should be calm, positive and very brief. Resist the temptation to blame and complain. Even if the interviewer is sympathetic and seems to be encouraging you to kvetch (which could be a test!), doing so would probably cost you the opportunity.
If you hate your new job, you may feel very stressed, disappointed, angry or worried about the future. That’s normal. If you handle the situation with care, eventually you’ll put it behind you. The good news is: as time goes by, this temporary setback may well cease to matter.