A friend of mine just asked me this question:
“My new job is not going well. The culture is not good, the expectations are different than what I was led to believe. I’m at a loss! What should I do?”
Here’s some background: My friend is a professional with some great experience and a solid resume, but has just ended a too-long job search. It was stressful, and we all know how a long job search takes a toll on our psyche, not to mention or finances. A long job search is just something that needs to end.
So… woohoo! He ended it! BUT… what seemed like a great job is turning out to be a lemon. What should he do?
Below are some of my thoughts. I’d love to hear your thoughts (leave a comment so we can all see them).
My first question to him was: “Are you in danger of losing your job?”
I’m not an opportunist, nor do I think you should take advantage of a company or person. But, you were hired to do a job. If you can do the job, and get whatever fulfillment you can elsewhere (from your family, hobbies, netflix, etc.), then maybe reconsider what a “job” is to and for you. The basic premise of a job, maybe even the social/job contract, is that you sell something (time, expertise, etc.) for something (money and maybe benefits).
If you think that your job will give you money (see part of the social/job contract ) AND fulfillment, you might be asking too much.
I’m absolutely not saying that you should not be fulfilled in life, but looking at your employer to give you fulfillment the way you want/need it is, in my opinion, unfair to the employer.
The reason I asked this question is to understand your urgency. If you are going to lose your job, you have a high level of urgency. But if you have a few months, and can weather the storm, then stick with it, keep your paychecks and benefits, and do the stuff below.
If you are in danger of losing your job, my advice might be a little different than if you weren’t in danger… hence, my first question. That brings me to…
My first bit of advice was: “Look for another job. ALWAYS be looking for another job!”
I’ve been doing JibberJobber for 13.5 years. I’ve seen all kinds of people out of work. Highly educated, high performances, engineers, sales professionals, dentists… hardly anyone is immune to unemployment. Even those in super high demand are not immune to job changes (horrible bosses, toxic cultures, companies closing, companies not paying (run out of money)), etc.
Years ago my friend Ash said that he got daily Monster alerts with new job opportunities. Ash was happily and well employed, and I was surprised to learn that he had his ear to the ground as much as he did. I asked him why and he said you never know what might come up. He wasn’t looking, but he sure had a good idea of who was hiring for what, and what his Plan B, Plan C, Plan etc. would be.
I think we all need to adopt this mindset. That is why I cringe when my JibberJobber users delete their account (and all of their data!) when they find a job. “Congrats on the new gig,” I think, “but see you back in two to five years.”
I don’t care how much you love your job, how new you are there, how secure (cough cough) your job is… you should always do something for your career. So, starting yesterday, look for a new job!
Next, fix your finances.
I believe that we have an unhealthy relationship with money. I see this manifested in three different ways:
Too much debt. Way, way too much debt. Debt is a harsh master. Even if you get a low interest rate, it is money that hangs over your head like a dark cloud. I know that some debt seems unavoidable, but our unhealthy relationship and the debt we carry are related.
Not living with a budget. I know, this is hard. But financial winners do it. It’s like a money diet. I’m not saying it has to be restrictive or horrible, but it’s watching what we earn and what we spend (calories in, calories out) and knowing where our money is at and being in control. We generally don’t do that, so when we have a change in our income or expenses, it can be jarring. When you have the control over your money that a budget gives you, losing your job is still hard, but it’s not too shocking to your finances (as it would be if THEY were in control of you).
Fear of actually having or earning money. This is a weird phenomena that I see too often: people who have a problem with actually earning a decent living. It’s like having money, or having wealth (*shudder*), is a bad thing. Heaven forbid we earn what we are worth. Heaven forbid we are valued by someone for being awesome at something. I want to be valued for what I’m worth (and maybe 25% more :p)… why shouldn’t you be valued for what you are worth?
I know there are lots of ideas on money and budgeting and debt… learn about it. Master it. Be in control of it, and plan for the future while you can enjoy the present. When you are out of control with your money, a job change can be a devastating blow. Note that this is definitely a marathon, so when I say “fix your finances,” I’m not saying fix them today, but get on the right path, and continue on that path making progress.
This is the job search of the working person. You should always be networking. You should network with people at your company, people at industry lunches, you should go to monthly meetups with people in your industry or profession, you should network with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or wherever they network.
You should also be very kind and helpful to job seekers. Job seekers are networkers on steroids. They should be talking with (or at least know about) many professionals and companies in your space. Be kind to them. It’s the right thing to do, and building your network of job seekers might be beneficial to your career one day.
Networking is career management. You should never stop doing it. Ever.
Your personal brand is your reputation. It’s how others talk about you. It’s how others think about you. It could be tied to your competencies, or it could be tied to your likability.
Your personal brand is at risk of being harmful if you don’t (a) know what it is and (b) work to make it be what you want it to be, on purpose. If you let others decide your brand, and you kind of don’t care, that may bite you later. I encourage you to be very purposeful about your personal brand. I have a Pluralsight course on how to “develop a killer personal brand.” This course came from years of learning about branding, and from many of my presentations. I can get you a 30 day pass… just message me.
I’m sorry that you don’t like your job. You got sold one thing and you ended up with another. That recently happened to me. It sucks. But, you are empowered to take control over what you have. You don’t have to take what an employer gives you, and you should always practice wise career management!