If you hate your new job, you're not alone.
For various reasons - not least the pandemic and changes to the way we work - the “Great Resignation” is well underway. The academic who came up with the term, Anthony Klotz, has described right now as a “unique moment in the world of work”, adding that resignation rates could stay above average for two or three years – partly, he says, because quitting can be contagious, but also because there's so much change in the workplace as employers experiment with new ways of working.
Is it normal to hate your job at first?
While it's normal to feel unsure, uncomfortable or wary of making mistakes in your new job, being anxious or worried every Sunday evening when thinking about the week ahead really isn't.
Try to pinpoint what it is that's making you feel this way. Are your concerns performance related? Perhaps the thought of giving a presentation, or attending an important meeting, is making you break out in a cold sweat. Are you finding it difficult to navigate office politics? Perhaps there's something about the culture of your new workplace that causes concern. You might even have a horrible boss or a work colleague who rubs you up the wrong way. Identifying the cause of your anxiety will help you to see a way through it.
How long will it take to feel comfortable in my new job?
Many jobs have a probationary, or trial, period of 60 to 90 days, although some can last up to a year. This is so both the new hire and the employer can determine whether it's a good fit from both a functional and a cultural standpoint. A recent Australian study has shown that after entering a new job, demands and uncertainties increase. However, over time, newcomers gain resources (such as knowledge, skills, and social connections) that help them to cope with the new role. The study also cites socialisation studies, which show that it can take up to six months to form quality relationships with your new colleagues.
How long should you stay in a new job?
There's no set time, as everyone is different. It's worth noting that one study found that out of 20,000 new hires, 46% failed to pass their probationary period. When asked to assess these results, hiring managers reported that 89% of “failed” hires were due to attitude rather than lack of technical skills.
However, analysing employee data from 34 million online profiles, researchers at MIT Sloan Management Review were able to estimate staff turnover across a number of large organisations and found that, out of over 170 factors considered, toxic culture was by far the biggest factor driving resignations. So, when we compare the reasons for “failed” hires, it's hardly surprising that workplace culture features so prominently. If you're reading this and thinking it applies to you, that's a red flag – and a sign that you should start making plans to move on.
Things you can do when you hate your new job
Make a list of pros and cons
Note which activities, conversations, and situations make you feel good or bad throughout the week. For example, how do you feel before and after a team meeting? If your role is client-facing, do you typically enjoy your interactions with them or do you find yourself feeling drained and defeated? Have you felt like this from the start or has it developed over time? What prompted you to feel this way?
Be proactive in seeking solutions
If you're feeling overwhelmed in your new role, it's crucial that you let your boss know– or at the very least someone you trust – before it becomes unmanageable. Your boss will appreciate a proactive approach, where you bring them potential solutions to problems. Are there environmental factors that make it hard for you to focus? If you're having trouble adjusting from remote work, offer to work from home for a few days each week for a less harsh transition.
Remember: feelings aren't facts
During tense conflicts at work, it's difficult to tease out the facts of the matter from the feelings you have about the people involved. One helpful exercise is to write everything down, step by step, including how you felt at each point. Once you've made room for the emotions, go back to the facts and review them as though you were a detective. Without inferring other people's intentions based on how you feel about them, what other possible explanations could there be for that series of events?
I've decided to quit - what now?
It's easy to view negative experiences as “failures”, but there are lessons in each of the decisions we make that can help us make better decisions later on. What did you learn about yourself during this experience? Are there adjustments you'll make to your next job search? Whether you're thinking about returning to your previous job or seeking out something entirely different, make sure to follow these steps to ensure a relatively painless exit – and that you don't end up in a similar position in your next role.
Design a new job search with your core values in mind
Think about what's important to you for you to be happy in your next role. Don't be afraid to ask questions before you apply, to ensure that you're not going to waste your time.
Update your CV, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio
Now that you have a clear idea of what you want, it's time to refresh your CV. If you're having trouble, a professional CV writer can help you to articulate your new career goals and objectives.
Resign with dignity
If at all possible, give the appropriate notice period and do it in person. It may be awkward, but it's the courteous and professional thing to do. When drafting your letter, be brief and don't go into detail. “Personal reasons” is an acceptable answer that requires no further explanation.
I hate my new job but I can't leave
There are absolutely things you can do when you hate your new job. Start by approaching the existing problems and issues with a fresh perspective. Are there opportunities to make changes that are within your control? Can reframing the more mundane or undesirable parts of your job help you to complete them with greater enthusiasm?
If you've landed a job that just isn't the right fit, for whatever reason, be honest with yourself and thorough in your assessment of the situation. Trust your gut, but don't be swayed by emotional flashpoints or difficult personalities. If none of these suggestions apply to you, put your mental health first. No job is worth the long-term risks to your health and happiness. Remember that you have the power to change your life and take a different path; and that making a decision is an act of power in itself.
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