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My new job is a nightmare! What should I do?

Dear Joan,

After a six- month job search I finally landed the job of my dreams. Or so I thought. It truly is a bait and switch situation. The job is for a non-profit and I’m responsible for managing ten locations, each with its own local supervisor, supposedly. I did ask about the challenges of the job, and they said there were  typical growth challenges, period. When I asked what happened to the last manager they said she moved on to a better opportunity.

The job is truly a nightmare. On my first day I attended a staff meeting where the key topic was no-shows;  a third of the staff are not regularly coming to work. Morale is horrible. It is complete chaos and among the ten locations I have responsibility for only half have a supervisor in place. How do I get out of this ‘burning building?” I am now in week three.

Please help….


Dear Jerry,

I am so sorry to hear that you landed a lemon. Seriously, sometimes I think there should be lemon-laws applied to really bad jobs like yours; jobs that are not at all what they were cracked up to be.

But you did accept the job, even though they were not honest about the situation. How could they be? If they were, they would never have attracted you, or any candidates for that matter.

But I have seen this situation before, and the good news for you, is that it is still early on and you have a chance to get out, and get out before it is a real stain on your career:

  1. Document it all – I always advise clients to start their relationship with their hiring manager by saying that you believe in weekly status reports for clear two way communication. Select a day of the week you like to prepare it, often a Friday, end of the week is good. For the first one, discuss your objectives with your manager and each week write down the objectives and your work to date to achieve them.  Then, have a section called Open Issues In this section, clearly enumerate the problems and be as objective as you can. You can use phrases like: ‘Surprised to see that my staff of supervisor positions are only 50% filled. Was not advised of this’. ‘Morale is down as evidenced by 30% absenteeism and has been for the last three months’.
  2. This kind of document will get your manager’s attention. If it doesn’t then make it clear to both the manager and HR department that the job is not what you thought it would be and you are not too comfortable.
  3. Start your new job search right away. Call back any recruiters and or companies that you were in contact with. Let them know you are available.
  4. Get a new job asap. If you can, get a new position and you may not even need to put this job ‘mistake’ on your resume if it was less than a three month period. In some cases it is even better to quit than stay and be associated with such a poorly run place.

Jerry, in my experience it is better to quit and move on rather than sully yourself and your reputation by being affiliated with an organization in  tremendous disarray with little sign of improvement. Most organizations look at the first three months as a ‘getting to know you’ period, so if you leave before that time, it can typically be forgotten. Sometimes you can even get unemployment if you can prove that the job was not what it was described as.

I remind people to do their due diligence to ask around about the organization, and the management but in your case it sounds like you did. But you were not fully informed, and it wasn’t your fault. But is important to move on. Recognize it as a bad fit, like a bad girlfriend or boyfriend and look for the next, better one.

Onward to your career success and be strong,

Coach Joan

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