When Your Dream Job turns Out to be a Dud: 5 Red Flags that it’s Time to Leave

When Your Dream Job turns Out to be a Dud:

5 Red Flags that it’s Time to Leave

 You did the work. You got a fabulous degree, great recommendations, worked your network and you got the job. The job that you thought was your dream job. It had all the things you wanted – or at least the most important things. But the reality is far from what you imagined. Maybe you’re working crazy long hours. Maybe your new boss is the micromanager from hell. Maybe the non-profit job where you thought you could make a difference in the world turns out to be mostly paperwork and promises. You fill in the blanks.

You thought it was going to be a great job. But it’s not.

 I recently worked with a client who could tell you this story. He had worked hard to land just the right position in a tough to crack field. We worked together to update his resume, find the right contacts, and even prep a few interview answers. He got the job. It was great! 

… and then it wasn’t. His ‘dream’ job turned out to be a nightmare. From the outside, it looked fabulous.  But like many Instagram shots, what was just outside the frame was a total mess. His boss was the ultimate micromanager with an alcohol problem. Co-workers rarely stayed long enough in the job to develop any sense of teamwork. And the whole system was stuck. Any suggestions of change were quickly torpedoed by the upper management.  So, he called me back after just a year on the job with the questions:  

“Now what?”

“How do I fix this?”

“ How long do I tough it out?”

 Those are the questions. What do you do? How long do you stay before hopping over to Indeed and shooting resumes everywhere? What are the best strategies?

5 Red Flags that it's Time to Leave Your Dream Job.png

 Conventional wisdom says its best to stay at least 12-18 months in a job. At that point, you’ve survived the learning curve that comes with on-boarding and learning new procedures. You know your work team and probably passed your first evaluation. You have gotten through the ups and downs of a calendar year. Most likely, you now understand the culture and mission of the organization – for good or bad. You have developed relationships with co-workers, or not, which is a big red flag. You have a year of experience with your boss. Is he or she always a tyrant? Or just when stress and deadlines prevail?  There’s value in reaching the year mark.

 However, no benchmark works for everyone. Sometimes, an early reboot of the job search is warranted – even with just three to six months on the job. Only you can decide if it’s time to update your resume and begin the job search again.

 Here are some strategies for coping when your dream job turns out to be a dud.

 First, it’s important to dig deep into why you’re unhappy. Take some time to write down those things that you just can’t stand about your new job. Get really specific. Is it one person who seems to drag you down? Is the paper overload temporary or is it part of the company norm? Are you feeling isolated because you moved to a new city? Are you in a cubicle with no window? Take some time to think about why you were drawn to this job. What about it made you think it was your dream job? What are your great disappointments now?

Write it all down and sleep on it. The next day, take a look at your list. Is it still valid? Or do you immediately begin adding new items?

Second, consider the possibilities for change within your new job. Many times, new hires get the dregs of the job. As you gain the trust and confidence of your new employer, will your duties shift? Are there opportunities for promotion or even a lateral move to a slightly different position? As you become more familiar with the job, will you develop strategies for working faster or more efficiently? Is there a supervisor or someone in HR you can talk with to develop a strategy to change those parts of the job that are dragging you down?

Now that you have analyzed your situation, here are a few red flags that indicate it may be time to move on.

  1.  Your manager doesn’t support you. You’ve asked for additional opportunities or challenges to no avail. Maybe you met with your boss to talk about possible changes in your position or consulted HR about a lateral move and hit a dead end. You feel unsupported by your boss or the management team.

    The old adage is really true. People leave bosses, not companies. Bad managers can make us more miserable than any other aspect of our jobs – including other co-workers or the actual work itself. A Gallup study of more than 7,000 U.S. adults found that 50% of people have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.

  2.  There’s no path for advancement with the organization. You’re working your fingers to the bone, staying late to get things done and there’s no recognition for the good job. Maybe there’s someone in the position above you who’s never going to leave the company. Maybe it’s the boss’s nephew or son or daughter. Maybe it’s the employee who’s been there for years and everyone loves. It doesn’t matter. The reality is that you can’t move up because no one else is moving on.

  3.  The company is struggling. Maybe it’s not you but that the company is in real trouble. This causes stress in upper management which then pours down upon the heads of the worker bees. Watch out for signs such as budget cuts, contracting out work, failing to give regular raises, limited funds for upgrades in software and equiqment or continuing education, etc. If so, that’s a clue to update your resume. Now.

  4.  Your dream job is affecting your physical health. You may be suffering stress related symptoms such as digestive issues, back, neck or other muscle pain, TMJ, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, etc. The list is long. Check in with your doctor. If possible, take some days off to address your physical health and make a plan to deal with the job issue long term.

  5.  Your job is affecting your mental health. You find yourself really dreading Monday – more than just the normal Monday blues. Sundays feel like a bottomless pit of dread. Evenings after work are filled with numbing out with Netflix or an entire bottle of wine. You’re not communicating with – or you’re yelling at – your spouse and the kids. You find yourself thinking of ways to avoid going to work – sick days or invented crises.

    Or you’re thinking about suicide. Yes, I said it. It happens. It’s time to find a counselor or doctor, talk it out, get some meds if needed, and make a change. No job is worth your mental health.

 If you realize that your dream job is truly a dud, or even worse, a toxic waste dump, it’s time to move on. Recognize that disappointment and grief will be part of the process of moving on. You had such high hopes for this job. So let yourself feel all the feels – sadness, anger, disappointment, and all the others. – and then pick yourself up and make a plan.

 Remember that sometimes an unexpected failure can turn out to be a positive. Failures can jolt you into new ways of things. Take the time to stop and think deeply about how the situation turned out. What changes can you make? What have you learned from this experience?

 Think creatively about your future. Where can you go from here? What new skills have you learned in this job? What contacts have you made in your job that you can reach out to possibilities? Maybe this “dream job” was just a stepping stone to something even better.



How to Create a ASCII or Plain Text Resume - and When to Use It

How to Create a ASCII  or Plain Text Resume - and When to Use It

How to create an ASCII or plain text resume and when you need to use one. Have you ever been asked to submit an ASCII or plain text resume for an onine job application? It’s a resume that’s been stripped of most formatting in order to be scanned by an applicant tracking system. An ASCII or plain text resume is an electronic resume in plain text that any type of computer or software can read.  Forget those lovely Pinterest worthy resume layouts. An ASCII resume is just plain ugly. But it gets your job history, skills and experience past the bots and gets the job done. 

ASCII (pronounced "askee") is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.  ASCII text is used for entering (or pasting) your resume information into online submission forms and for pasting your resume into the body of an e-mail.

Due to the sheer volume of applications that are submitted to online job applications, most companies use a computer system called ATS - applicant tracking system, to scan resumes looking for keywords that match the job description. Converting your resume to ASCII before pasting it into an online job application form ensures it will display properly and be read correctly by the system. Fancy formatting, graphics, columns, unusual fonts and bullets may not be read correctly by the ATS - or even read at all.  Your resume may be rejected before even reaching the hiring manager. 

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8 Warning Signs You Need a New Job

8 Warning Signs You Need a New Job

8 Warning Signs that it’s Time to Look for a New Job. Do you dread each and every Monday morning? Are you being passed over for promotions or find it hard to see a good future with your current company? Is your workplace toxic? It may be time to consider a job change.

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4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

Almost every college and university uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in their career guidance office. A quick google search will turn up a list of career possibilities for each of the 16 personality types. Scores of books have been written about the type indicator and the Jungian theory it is based upon. It has been loved, and scorned, for 70 years since it’s creation by the American mother-daughter team, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.

So is it worth it? How can the MBTI help you find a career and a life you love?

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The 3 Best Job Search Websites + The ONE Thing That Really Helps You Find a Job

It’s a question I’m asked by every career coaching client I work with. What job sites should I use to find a job? There’s a long list out there - Monster, Simply Hired, LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Career Builder and many, many more. Which is the best? Job searching takes a lot of time. Which job site is worth spending your valuable time on?

Where can you find your dream job? 

Based on my experience with job hunting clients along with a great in-depth analysis from reviews.com, here are my top picks for job sites that might actually land you an interview.  These are in no particular order - but I think they are the best of the bunch. 

The 3 Best Job Sites

  • GlassDoor. GlassDoor has the most new postings each day, according to reviews.com. In a 2 week test, GlassDoor had 30% more new posts than the competition. GlassDoor allows you to search by job title, key responsibilities, company and location. It also provides anonymous company reviews on the corporate culture and salary information. It’s a great site if you want to research the company that you might be working for. It’s also a place to check out career fields if you’re not quite sure what your next move will be.

  • Indeed wins for the best coverage. Lots of jobs that are posted in niche job boards and other places will show up here. Employers can post on Indeed for free - so that ups the odds that jobs will be posted here. It’s a Google-like search engine for jobs and pulls in information from job boards, company listings and news sites.

  • Linked In - Recruiting and hiring managers stalk Linked In. I have been contacted by recruiters with job possibilities for myself - and I’m not looking for a job! On Linked In, you can search for jobs and then see people in your network who have connections to that company. That's pure gold for networking! Posting a profile is free and you can find friends and others to connect to. Online networking works if you take it to the next level.

Here’s a little info about niche job boards - which are most helpful.

You need to check out niche job boards. These boards exist for every industry. Check out your national association or google 'your industry + job board'. For example, if you’re looking for a job in nursing, google “nursing job board” and you will find nurse.com or nursingjobs.com. For retail, you might look at workinretail.com or AllRetailJobs.com.  I'll write more about these later. 

And finally….

What actually helps you get a job 

This leads me to the last step. Again from Reviews.com: Steve Dalton is a program director for Daytime Career Services at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the author of The 2-Hour Job Search. Here’s his quote about job search sites. “It’s the black hole everybody thinks it is. For every one person hired through an online job application program, 12 are hired by an internal referral, according to a 2012 hiring study at the New York Fed.”

Yep. This fits with my experience as a career coach. What gets you hired is “who you know” - also known as networking. An internal referral means a person that the company trusts gave your name and resume to HR. Internal referrals can be a friend, or a friend of a friend or a friend of a friend of a friend on LInkedIn. Use the tools above to research job opportunities and find out what companies are hiring. And then check your network.. and then your extended network on Linked In to find anyone you know connected to that industry. Contact them. Take them to lunch. It really is what works. 

Check out the websites. Create a network. Join your local association of whatever. Create a profile on Linked In and work it. Call your uncle and your friends and that person you met at the restaurant. Call me if you think you don’t have a network. I’ll help you find one. And call me if you want help sorting out the online job search sites. We'll work it out.