20 Sep 2019

What to do if your new job is awful!

I'm really very fortunate that it is a rare occurrence for a candidate to get in touch with me shortly after starting in a new role.   No recruiter likes to get into a rebate situation with a client and we genuinely want our candidates to love their new job.

However, it does sometimes happen and I thought it might be worth offering a few words of wisdom in case you're finding yourself in the unenviable position of feeling out of place within the first few weeks of starting a new position.

Usually I recommend to candidates and to clients that the interview process is robust. Ideally it should be two interviews which will include an opportunity to meet other team members and a chance to visit the offices and get a feel for the place.  I recommend that clients take up references and ideally speak to previous employers wherever possible.   Clients are paying recruiters a decent fee to ensure that we find them good employees and I take that responsibility seriously.  Clients pay a fee in good faith that it's a service worth paying for, they need someone to do a job and therefore they want the employee to stay and be happy too.

But sometimes, for whatever reason, the two sides don't gel.   Many people are nervous when they start a new role and it does take time to settle into a new team.  So if you're feeling a bit wobbly in the early days, I'd advise to sit it out and see how you get on for the first month. 

If you have very specific areas (lack of structure, process, direction), then do speak up and ask your employer for help.   Find some allies within the team who can give you guidance  - many agencies do have mentors for new starters and this is something worth asking about at interviews.

Employers are not mind readers.  Whilst in bigger corporates, there are structures and processes in place with HR teams and internal support, the smaller independent agencies are often owner managed and it can take a bit of confidence to verbalise that you're not entirely happy.  In this situation, I'd ask for a short meeting with your boss/line manager and set out how you think you can resolve the problems that you are having. Try not to shoot yourself in the foot - bosses don't want to think you're about to run away and lose faith in you.    Often a busy owner manager can be so busy with 'running the business' that they don't recognise that a new starter is overwhelmed.  Communicating this to them, you can start to put in place a plan so that you feel settled and supported.   They offered you the job - you have the skills for the job, it may just require a few tweaks for you to settle.  They really won't want to a) lose their recruitment fee and b) go through a lengthy recruitment process again to find a replacement.  So hopefully, this is a solution that can work.

However, often you just know it's not right, it's never going to be your spiritual home.  Instinct, gut feel, whatever you want to call it.  Maybe the boss is a chameleon who on a day to day basis is a different animal to who interviewed you.  Perhaps the team is entirely disgruntled and gives you a very negative outlook on the whole business.  In this situation, you can see that things won't change.  At this point it's likely that you are still in your probation period and a lot of new employees who are unhappy will seek to find an alternative new role ASAP before the notice period changes post probation (typically from a week to a month or more).  How you handle this is dependent on many factors, not least, how your personal finances stack up.  I would generally never advise leaving a perm role with no job to go to.   However, that's a personal decision and clearly, if a role is adversely affecting your health, I would always look after number one first.   But you can quietly and unobtrusively apply for other roles and then once secure, resign, happy in the knowledge that you are not having a period out of work and not earning.

In an ideal world, perhaps it would be nice to be super honest with your boss and tell them you know it's not right for you and make them aware that you'll be looking for something new.  OK, at least it gives them the opportunity to try and find a solution to keep you but equally, you may aswell resign on the spot.

Everyone has at least one 'bum steer' on their CV.  We can't always be sure all of the time.  But taking time during the interview process to go through your own 'due diligence' and making sure you don't make any rash decisions will undoubtedly reduce the chances of accepting something that you later come to regret.