I talk to a lot of job seekers, and one of the highlights of my day is when I hear that one of my JibberJobber users landed a job. Wahoo!! So awesome!
This post might seem a little dark or jaded, but I think it’s an important conversation. Why? Because not all dream jobs are dream jobs. And because once you get your dream job I don’t want you to let your guard down.
Multiple times I’ve had people write and say “I’m deleting my account, I landed my dream job and don’t need it anymore!” It was their contact lists, histories, contact information, log entries of conversations…. lots of valuable information!
Please, don’t let one cool job derail your career management mindset! So many things can change!
Here are some reasons why your dream job might not be your dream job (and what you can do about it):
Pay isn’t what you thought.
One of my first jobs was filling tortillas at Taco Bell. I remember getting my first paycheck and staring at it. What the heck happened to all my money?? All the fingers dipping into my paycheck took out way more than I thought fair. Fast forward, I get old(er), and the same things happens… what you need (or want) to make now might be way different than what you would have thought. For example, making “six figures” used to be a big deal…. and it is. But it doesn’t mean you are on easy street… just wait to see your paycheck and you might think “gulp! I need a side gig!”
What can you do about it? Get serious about your finances. The equation is not just what comes in (income) but what goes out (expenses). What can and should you cut? Is it time to downsize or simplify?
These become important questions no matter how much you make, especially if you want to keep some of it for later (retirement)!
They did a bait and switch on description.
Nick Corcodilos (Ask the Headhunter) just wrote about this: Does your job match its original job description? This is not uncommon. I’ve experienced it plenty. I generally like the flexibility, but when you are hired to do something you like or something you are good at and then your job changes, that can be a real problem. Goodbye dream job.
What can you do about this? You can try to have a difficult conversation with your boss or the management. You could try to look for another role inside the company. You could give the new role a try, and learn the ropes. Or, you could start looking for something that fits what you really want to do at another organization.
You find out your manager is the manager from hell.
I’ve had more than one of these. The stress put me in instacare once, thinking I was having serious heart issues. Just a pre-ulcer. If your manager is from hell, good luck with that. Even if they were the coolest person you interviewed with, working for them can be a completely different story.
What can you do about it? Well, I think either you or they have got to go. I don’t know, maybe you like the challenge, and want to give them the benefit of the doubt, and help them change. For me, this is about as successful as helping a Dementor become a good guy.
So either you go, or you wait for them to go. Many times they leave the company. But too often crummy managers stay around or get promoted. I have no idea why this happens, but it doesn’t help your situation much. I’d say stay with a paycheck as long as you can do your job, but start looking elsewhere asap. I don’t recommend complaining to HR… for obvious reasons.
You just have no chemistry with your manager or team.
You know when you just aren’t wanted or valued? Or, when you are around people all day but feel like you aren’t part of the team? This could have everything to do with the chemistry at work. If you don’t fit in it might not feel like a dream job anymore.
What can you do about it? Well, look inside. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you are having a hard time with this transition, or you need to work through some things and let your guard down. Maybe you didn’t give a good first impression. Try to fit in a little more… do some of the team building things they do. But if that doesn’t work I’d say do you job, collect your pay, and get looking. There are more fish in the sea, as they say.
You realize your department is a unicorn among donkeys.
I have worked on a special team when the rest of the company was just doing normal work. Everyone was contributing, of course, but my team was special. We got special allowances and had special objectives. And the difference between what we were doing and what the rest of the company was doing was just too much for others to understand…. especially to understand why our team worked different than theirs. It can be hard to feel like you work at an awesome company when people there don’t know how to treat you.
What can you do about it? Hang in there and do your job. Just realize that you are going to be different. Gain strength from your teammates who are in the same boat. However, if your special project isn’t supported by executives or other managers, watch out. Your days may be numbered. If this really bothers you, look for other roles within the company, or start networking outside of the company.
The company has integrity issues.
Of course, you aren’t going to know about this during the interview process. But if you find out the company, any of the officers or managers, or even your boss or colleagues have integrity issues, you need to figure out how to get out. Nothing good will come of working there. If their brand is bad, having that company on your resume might do you more harm than good. If law enforcement gets involved you might end up in jail. If nothing else, you might feel too much stress because of the disparity between your level of integrity and theirs.
Just get out. If it’s really bad, get out even if you don’t have anywhere else to go. I hardly ever recommend that, but you need to be wise about your associations. It might be better to be unemployed than to get stuck with legal issues because of your employer.
Office politics are too much.
Office politics can be so lame. They are funny in The Office, but when you have to live in an environment where politics dominate your day and thinking, you are no longer in your dream job. Office politics can be dangerous, if you are on the wrong side of the politics. If you are in favor with those who are in power, great. Fun. Safe. But you never know how long you will be safe.
Hopefully leadership will get on the issue and change the culture. But if they don’t, if they are weak leaders (or, more hands-off), then you are just going to be stuck in a whirlpool of yuck until you get out. Changing departments, to a new boss, could be like going to another planet. I’ve seen someone go from a depressed, suppressed team to a team that is just right for them.
You have imposter syndrome.
This shocked me last year. I have ego enough for you and me… but when I landed a super dream job last year I spent a few months wondering why they hired me, and if I could actually contribute to the team. Whether I was going to work or on my way home, I was usually questioning my value there. Feeling that insecure was weird.
I got through it by piecing together various comments over multiple meetings where I realized that yes indeed I had value to add. Whether it was knowledge, experience, or work ethic, I was there for a good reason. Time is what I needed, and with time I moved on from imposter syndrome. If that doesn’t help you, read up, study, get some courses, and come up to speed on what you think you need to not be an imposter. Do a serious deep dive in your area. Even if what you read is boring, or you already know it, at least you’ll know what the experts (cough cough, I mean authors) think.
You find you are just bored.
Aside from the fact that you might just get bored easily, if you are in a bureaucratic environment you might find you don’t get to do what you were hired to do. When the company values archaic systems over real output, you might find yourself living in a groundhog nightmare. I found that coming into a company with an entrepreneur mindset frustrating some people, and I heard “that’s no in your swim lane” more than once :p I could see things getting boring if I spent more time playing The Game than actually adding value to a company.
What can you do about this? Figure out the loopholes in The Game. Figure out how you can do the work you want get done, and spend less time in The Game. But don’t neglect somehow letting the right people know what your value is. I’m not saying to write it in lipstick on the bathroom mirror… but don’t quietly do your thing and assume people know the goodness is coming from you. Be smart about your brand at the new company.
One of the most powerful things you can do is to create multiple revenue streams. Another powerful thing you can do is continue networking, continue developing your personal brand… continue with your career management!
This is one reason why JibberJobber is a lifelong career management tool, not just a tool for when you are in the job search.