Lessons learned and advice for what to do when you think you’ve made a mistake with your new role.
So, you’ve recently landed your dream job, resigned from your previous role, said goodbye to your ‘work-family’, and now you’re ready to embrace this new opportunity - these are exciting times!
You can’t believe you’ve been offered the role you were so nervous to interview for. It’s everything you’ve been looking for in the next step of your career. As you settle in on day one, you realise almost instantly that it isn’t what you thought it would be and you find yourself thinking that you have made a huge mistake…
Know that you are not alone. We speak to candidates who have been in the same position, and I’ve also been in your shoes. This may seem out of character for you but it can happen to anyone and there are ways that you can get through it without making any rash decisions that could have a big impact on your career.
1. Go back in the next day
Every part of you might be wanting to stay home and cover yourself with a doona to hide from the possibility that you may have made a terrible mistake. You may even be picking up the phone to call your old boss to see whether they would have you back. This is natural, you’re scared and what’s in front of you is the unknown, whereas your old job was known - it was comfortable, safe, you were surrounded by people that knew you and trusted you – why the heck did I decide to leave that old job again?!? This is why it’s so important to ensure you go back in the next day and the next, and give yourself time to figure out your next move, without making an impulsive decision. Take it one day at a time, until you get to the weekend and you’ve got some time to think and reflect on your first week with a clear head. Then, it’s time to make a plan.
2. Start to work out what it is about the new role you don’t like
Perhaps it’s that the work is not what you were told or thought it would be. Or maybe it’s the company culture, are these ‘your people’? You need to take the time to breakdown what it is that is actually bothering you. It’s only natural to feel out of your comfort zone in a new role where you don’t know the work or the people, and they don’t know you! Once you’ve started to break down the issues, you can start to analyse what you can change, what could get better with time as you become more familiar in the role, and what might be a deal breaker for you.
3. Talk to someone you trust
It’s important to know that you’re not alone in this and that there are people who are willing to listen to what you are going through and provide advice. You don’t just have to trudge on and hope for the best, there are things you can do to help the situation. Make sure you choose someone that you trust, that will hear to your perspective. Keep in mind that the majority of people who have not been through something similar before will respond with something like 'Starting a new job is tough. Stick it out for a few months and it will get better'. Whilst a lot of the time this is true, this response for someone that is going through deep regret, fear and a level of anxiety is not going to be welcomed as there is no positive action associated. Use this as an opportunity to talk to a mentor who you respect, or get some career guidance. My biggest piece of advice is that nobody else can tell you what is right for you, only you can figure that out for yourself. So take advice with caution, listen to what your gut is saying but take the time to make sure that you are making the right decision for you.
4. Speak to your employer
When you feel ready and clear on what it is about the role that isn’t for you, you could reach out to HR or your manager and bring them up to speed with how you are feeling. There is no point suffering in silence, or suddenly resigning without warning. This will give them the opportunity to listen, understand and potentially help you. They may be able to shape the role to suit you better, introduce you to other members of the team to help you integrate, provide a mentor or you might decide together that it’s not going to be the right fit. If you bring your employer on the journey with you, it’s likely they will be empathic and if you do decide to leave, you could leave on better terms than if you just decided to not come back in one day (believe me, it happens!). You never want to burn any bridges and it’s likely that you’ll still want to get a reference from this employer. So, managing this process in a clear, rational and two-way conversational way is important. Remember, a probationary period goes both ways, it’s not only for an employer to decide if you are the right fit, but it’s also for you to decide if this is the right place for you. Either way, it is important to communicate how you are feeling so that you give them the opportunity to help you.
5. How to avoid the same situation in the future
Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to figure out what we like is to figure out what we don’t like through experiences, but there are ways that you can help avoid this situation in the future. Too many times we think interviews are one-sided, hoping that they will ‘pick you’. The feeling of ‘getting the job’ can be euphoric, it’s like the feeling of winning a race, but too often we forget to ask – ‘do we actually want this job and is it suited to me?’ Learning how to ask the right questions in an interview will help you with this. Equally, making sure you are honest with yourself about what you are looking for, what you like and don’t like about your previous roles and what sort of environments you thrive in are all important questions that you should be clear on whilst interviewing and assessing if the role is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for more out of the interview process if you are struggling to find out the answers you need. For example, if you’re not getting a great sense of the culture after a couple of interviews, you could ask for another meeting and whether it might be possible to meet some members of the team, or do a walk around the office. These little things can make a big difference.
6. If you do decide to move on, don’t see it as a failure
Behind every CV is a great story to tell, learn how to frame your story in a positive light to your future employer. This includes the reasoning behind the decision, what you’ve learnt and why you’re certain that the next role is for you.
At the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable with the decision you are making and know that it’s just the next step in your journey. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and the right role for you is just around the corner.
At iknowho, we’re here for career guidance, so if you’re suffering from new job regret or just need someone to talk through your next move, please get in touch. We’re here to help.