Nip it in the bud?

This job’s a dud…. Should I nip it in the bud?

I am fortunate to have been in a job that I enjoy for almost 12 years – but before that, things were rather, well, erratic, for a couple of years, while I bounced from job to job following the recession that led to my redundancy in 2009.  So I am familiar with that uncomfortable feeling of ‘should I stay or should I go’ when a job doesn’t feel right, and all the accompanying things that you have to consider:

  • Will employers take me seriously based on my recent ‘job hopping’?
  • Will they think I’m a quitter because I couldn’t stick it out?
  • So, should I stick it out, and see if things get better?

Of course, if you decide it’s not going to get better, you are vulnerable to accepting a role that’s no better, or even worse, due to the pressure of wanting to leave your current role so badly, and potentially avoid being saddled with working a 3 month notice period in a job that you despise.

Few of us have the luxury of taking a sabbatical while we find the right role.  So that means we might have to bite the bullet and try to leave before that longer notice period kicks in, during our probationary period.

With that in mind, you need to consider the following options:

  • Can I talk to someone at work about how I’m feeling?
  • How will it affect my mental health if I stay?
  • If I jump now, how will I know that my next role will be better, not worse?

So often, as a recruiter, I hear that roles have been ‘mis-sold’ to people.  And while I used to think this had happened to me during that erratic phase of my career, I now believe I was not sufficiently prepared to ask the right questions at interview that would have caused me to question whether the role was right for me.  I convinced myself that I really wanted the job to the extent where I was ignoring lots of red flags.  Don’t get me wrong, roles are mis-sold all the time, but I would argue that there are also times when the candidate needs to admit that they could have done more due diligence before accepting the job.

A good employer will check in with their new starters regularly, and this is your chance to talk to them about the issues you are having.  If they are not consulting with you in your first few weeks, this in itself is a red flag, indicating a ‘sink or swim’ environment that is unlikely to improve.  So if your manager asks how you are getting on, be prepared to have an honest conversation and see if improvements can be made.  It might be that something unforeseen has impacted on your role, such as someone in the team leaving, or a change of management – its worth finding out whether there is a plan in place to ensure that your role becomes more bearable, and even enjoyable, in the longer term.

As for knowing whether your next role will be better, not worse, I suggest that you make a list of what you expect from your next role, and also what questions you could have asked when you were interviewed for your current position whose answers might have led you to decline any offer.

The advice I always give to candidates who find themselves in this situation is not to punish yourself for making the decision to leave the role quickly.  Evaluating the impact on your mental health of staying in the wrong job is critical, as is applying due diligence when it comes to securing your next role.  Red flags can take many forms, but I would suggest that if any of the following happens during the recruitment process, you should investigate further:

  • Receiving conflicting information from different parties about working hours, working conditions etc.
  • Information provided being rather vague, as if all will become clear at some magical later point
  • Having to meet with HR teams repeatedly rather than the person you will be reporting to
  • Lengthy delays between interviews, and before contracts are issued
  • No attempt to build a rapport with you during the interview process

You can also use sites like Glassdoor to investigate what employees have said about the business.  Be open-minded, as disgruntled former employees tend to kick up a stink, but you can look out for any common issues in what people are reporting – eg a poor business culture, a lack of support.

When it comes to handling how to explain to interviewers why you are leaving your job so quickly, I recommend an introspective approach.  Expressing vitriol towards the business won’t go down well, but being honest about the things that aren’t right about the role, while also bearing some responsibility for what you could have done differently, and expressing what you have learned from the experience – this honesty will go a long way, and it will resonate personally with many interviewers as well.

If you get to offer stage and you still have nagging doubts, ask if you can have a further chat with the hiring manager.  You’re in a strong position – they want you on board, so now it’s up to you to ask the right questions and make sure you can start your new role with confidence.