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Have you ever started a new job and known on day one (or even in the first few weeks) that you’ve made a big mistake? For whatever reason, the new job you’ve started isn’t what you thought it would be? Maybe everything you were promised is a long way from the reality. Or maybe with your rose coloured glasses on, you only saw and heard what you wanted to. Maybe you were just so desperate to move from your previous role that you thought any new job would be a better option. Or maybe you didn’t really understand what it was that was important to you in a role, so you ended up in a role that doesn’t play to your strengths.
I think the majority of us at some stage in our careers experience this. We start a new job and we know deep down, very early on that we have made the wrong move. When it happens, you feel alone and like its only happening to you. I see so many people experience this situation at least once in their career.
It happened to me many years ago, early on in my career. It was crushing at the time. It knocked my confidence and left me questioning what I was good at and what kind of work I wanted to do. Fortunately, that experience led me to temp work (because I was disillusioned and had no idea what I wanted to do next) and that introduced me to the world of recruitment and the rest is history! However, at the time it was really challenging. I’d taken a sales role, which was my background and I think I knew week one that it wasn’t going to be for me. I lasted a couple of months and then we amicably parted ways. I was crushed. I felt like I had failed. I’d made a bad decision. How would I explain it on my resume? What would people think? Where to now?
On reflection there were many things that led to that job opportunity being the wrong move for me. How the job was pitched to me was very different from the reality; I took what I was told at face value and never questioned or tried to dig deeper to understand the reality of the role, the company and the culture. I’ve since learnt that if a job opportunity sounds too good to be true – it probably is! Taking this sales job was the easy option for me, it was offered to me without going through a proper recruitment process, I knew the manager at the time and he just offered me the job. Hence, neither of us explored properly if I was the right fit for them or if they were the right fit for me. It also meant that I didn’t explore what else was out there in the job market and I then didn’t have to invest the time in really understanding my strengths and what gave me satisfaction in a job. At that stage of my career I didn’t know or understand what really made me tick. For so many reasons, it was clear as day that the decision to take that sales role was a bad move.
The good thing though was that the experience made me learn a lot about myself and what was important to me in a job, what skills I wanted to be using, what gave me job satisfaction and what didn’t. And luckily for me it led me to my current career path where now I get to do what I love every day.
However, when you are in this situation, where you have made the wrong career move, it can be a really challenging time. If you ever find yourself in this situation here my top three pieces of advice:
Look for the positives
What learnings can you take from the experience? Focusing on what you can positively take from the experience will help you navigate the way forward. Reflecting and analysing how you ended up in this situation can be really valuable. Where did you go wrong in making this decision? Once you can identify these things you can apply them to your job search going forward so you don’t end up in the same situation again. From my bad experience, I learnt so much about myself and what I really wanted to do work wise.
Create a plan
Having a plan to get yourself out of the situation is critical. Do you stay until you find something else or do you go with nothing else to go to? This will depend on your personal circumstances and how bad the situation is. Often for many people it comes down to financial commitments and their mental health. Being in a really bad or negative environment can have massive impacts on our mental health so considering those factors is important. Once you know the first step of the plan you can build the rest of your plan regarding your job search, using your networks to find work, registering with recruitment agencies etc. The worst thing you can do is to sit back and simply hope that things will change or get better. They rarely do.
Surround yourself with a good support network
An experience such as a wrong career move can be crushing, soul destroying and a highly emotional time. Your confidence often takes a knock and chances are you’ll be doubting yourself and your skills. Having a really good support network of people around you is really important. They’ll be there to remind you of all the great skills you have, they’ll encourage you as you start to put yourself back out there and apply for jobs.
We all make bad career choices and decisions at times. I think it’s all part of our career journey so don’t beat yourself up about it. Take the time to reflect, appreciate the learnings and put yourself back out there so you can take that next step to get you back on the right path to loving what you do.
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.