Ask The Headhunter: I got myself stuck in a horrible job. Can I quit?
In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: I accepted what seemed to be a great job. Nine weeks later, the smoke and mirrors are gone, and I see that I’m working for a possessive CEO who won’t trust people enough to let them do their jobs. My direct boss has such dramatic mood swings that I don’t know if the day will be a good or bad one. I now understand why the company’s turnover rate is 80 percent. Almost everyone has been here less than a year.
I want to leave, but I don’t know how to handle it. I can’t leave this job off my resume, but I don’t know how it might hurt me to be looking again so soon. What’s your advice?
Nick Corcodilos: This is a problem of due diligence. You didn’t do enough of it. When people pursue all the jobs that online job hunting permits, they fail to check employers out enough. They rush into every “opportunity” — even though it may be a disaster. Worse, they field any and all suggestions for interviews that come along.
If you want to stay out of trouble, interview only with companies you really want to work for and preferably only the ones you’ve chosen — not the ones that seem to be choosing you. What good is a new job if you have to go looking for another one in a few months?
Do your due diligence
Here are some tips from “Fearless Job Hunting, Book 5, Get The Right Employer’s Full Attention,” pages 14-15. During your job interviews:
- Get to know your future boss and meet the people you will be living and working with. Look for compatibility: skills, abilities, goals, style.
- Check out the tools that will be at your disposal. If they’re not part of the deal today, don’t expect you will get what you need later.
- Who in other departments will affect your ability to do your job successfully? Meet them. Look for facilitators and debilitators: people who will help and hinder your performance.
This is how to avoid surprises from a new job. It’s very important to get to know other members of the team and to use your meetings to find out the truth about what a place is like to work in. But that’s advice for next time.
Is it worth staying?
Don’t jump the gun yet. I’d give this at least six months, and during that time, I’d start a low-level job search. Kick it into higher gear if things continue to deteriorate.
Sometimes it takes a while to establish one’s credibility with management and to develop a position that projects a bit of power. As this situation develops and as you are also creating back-up job opportunities, you may find yourself ready to push back at the CEO and your boss to see whether they take you seriously. If you can gain concessions, you may find reasons to stay. If you can’t, then you will be well positioned to make a move out the door.
If you have to quit, see “How should I quit this job?”
Explaining a short job
Don’t worry about explaining this short stay. Just tell the truth. Keep it brief and to the point. Don’t complain, don’t explain. In today’s rough-and-tumble business world people know that some companies aren’t great to work for. Not everyone will be surprised you left this company so soon if that’s what happens.
For examples of how other savvy job seekers handle this, see “How to Say It: Why I left.”
It’s not unusual to get disillusioned about a new job. Give this a chance, because your position may improve with a little time. But don’t count on it — create an option now.
Dear Readers: Have you ever gotten a new job, only to realize you made a mistake? What did you do? How would you advise this reader?
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”
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