A bad career move can be a killer.
After countless hours of slugging away at a career change, you finally land a job that checks all the right boxes.
But then you arrive…
And on Day One of the new job, you know you made a bad move.
The new boss seems different than he was at the interview. The parts of the job that excited you are actually much smaller parts than you’d thought.
And, oh, the team! There’s just no way you could gel with any of them.
Unfortunately, you’re stuck there for several years… right?
Everyone knows your resume can’t look too “busy,” or it will show you can’t hold down a job… right?
Wrong and wrong.
How do you deal with traffic roadblocks?
First of all, let’s allay the fears that the career change itself was a mistake.
Change isn’t easy for everyone, and sometimes a big move that doesn’t work out can be a fatal blow to momentum.
But should it be?
We’ve all encountered unexpected construction on our way somewhere. No matter how much we want to go the way we always go, there’s a big roadblock in front of us (with seven guys being paid to stand around and watch).
Which leaves us with four choices:
- Get angry and yell at the construction workers, hoping the roadblock will just go away.
- Go back home.
- Buy a new car. (Okay, that might not solve the problem – but it would make us feel really good until the payments start. ☺)
- Use a different route.
Only the last one entails forward progress.
Don’t dwell on a bad career move. Instead, focus on where you’d like to go next.
Always move forward
You can probably guess what I’m not going to suggest you do.
Do not go back to your old job.
Obviously I can’t know your specific situation, and, yes, you might want to go back if truly horrible things are happening in the new job like mandatory drug usage or daily Saved By The Bell viewings.
But in 99% of jobs, the worst things that could happen to you are:
- Disrespectful boss and/or colleagues;
- Boring work;
- Overwhelming workload.
Sure, there might be other problems, even the most complicated scenarios have common denominators.
So: just endure it and stay forever?
No, definitely not.
But before we start planning for next steps, let’s take a beat and assess the current situation.
How much of a “bad career move” is it?
There are always degrees of “not working out.”
Sometimes it refers to unmet expectations: we were hoping for amazing, but what we got was “okay.” For these situations, it will just come down to how happy you are.
You need to get what you’re worth, but maybe a less demanding job for a spell wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. And there is always something you can learn from every job.
But for those jobs that are disasters…
Well, it’s time to plan for an exit strategy.
Sometimes those jobs require 10% of your intelligence. Or maybe they’re in toxic environments, or in companies that are one bad quarter from bankruptcy.
In any case, we always know in our gut when it’s really not working. We can try to argue the bright side all we want, but if we’re nauseous every time we think about the office, then it’s time to ride off.
Congrats for even getting there
The good news is: even if this was your first career change, you proved that you could do it!
Your first move was a huge success, just by virtue of you transitioning somewhere else. That’s something to be proud of.
And more importantly: it’s a success you can build on.
But we need to dig down a bit deeper than that. There were reasons why you were able to transition into another career. Maybe it was the way you wrote your resume, or maybe it was how well you sold yourself.
Don’t just “feel” like you did well.
Figure out the specifics, and make sure you practice them until they’re built-in.
But there was also something missing from your move.
How do we know?
Because you’re not happy with the result.
If we’re going to be goal oriented and not just meander aimlessly through our careers, we should always be focused on the result and only the result.
So we know that there’s room for improvement in this bad career move: we just need to figure out where it was.
Maybe you had big dreams, but you sold a small move. And so what you thought would be a shot of adrenaline, ended up being disappointing.
Or maybe you did your best on your resume to include all of the great skills that didn’t come pre-packaged with your previous jobs, but now you see that you could have focused it more. A less-busy resume might have got you an interview with that other, better company.
There are always many reasons why a move didn’t happen according to plan. No move will be “perfect,” so there will always be ways to keep improving.
Don’t let anyone tell you that now you’re stuck for the next two years, that a short stop on a resume looks terrible.
Those are just excuses pushed by people who are afraid of making the wrong move. And those aren’t the types of people who would have done what you did in the first place – take a chance – so why would you look to them for solutions?
I’ve had jobs that lasted years, and I’ve had jobs that literally lasted days. When you’ve worked in over 65 jobs, you tend to become emotionally disengaged from the whole process.
You just see the process, improve the process, and try the process again.
Don’t get defeated by a bad career move: just keep getting better at it.
Have you ever made a bad career move? Did you stick with it or move on? Tell us in the comments!