What to Do if Your New Job Isn't Working Out

Weigh Your Options: Return to the Old Job, Stick It Out, or Keep Searching

stressed businessman on telephone in office
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What do you do when a new job isn't anything like you expected? It can be a dilemma, especially if you did all the right things before you accepted the job offer.  First of all, don't panic. You do have options, and this may not be as much of a crisis as you think it is.

Bad Luck or Good Luck?

It happened to Maureen Nelson. She worked for Employer A, which was located across the street from Company B.

Employer A was a contract position and Maureen needed benefits, so she went to B. Company B had buyer's remorse after two months (Maureen never knew why) and was asked to resign.

Maureen called Employer A back, and they said, "Great! Can you be here tomorrow morning at 9:00?" Because they were so close geographically, the commute was identical and her routine hardly changed.

The story gets better, though. Maureen explains - "The best part: A few months later, I was hired at Employer C, which paid me 30% more ($15K) than Employer B did! I actually moved for that job. It's like the Chinese folk tale that starts with the horse running away - you never know, you never know - whether it's good luck or bad luck."

In Maureen's case, she took a chance and made her own new luck.

Doing All the Right Things

Another person I spoke to had done everything you should do when it came to both her job search and to evaluating a position at one of the top employers in the United States.

She interviewed several times, researched the company, evaluated the job offer, and talked to her future co-workers and supervisor.

Presuming that she had made a good decision, she packed her bags and relocated to a new city to take what she thought was an exciting new job. Only it wasn't.

The position was nothing like anyone had described it.

The only explanation she got when she asked about the difference between the job she thought she was hired for and what she was doing, was that she could work her way up to more responsibility.

After the first couple of days on the job, she knew it wasn't going to work out, so she called her old boss. She was lucky - the job wasn't filled, she had resigned gracefully and parted on excellent terms with her old employer, and she didn't have to start a new job search. They hired her back on the spot.

These experiences are good examples of how you never know what will happen in the future and why it's always important to follow protocol, give adequate notice, and avoid saying anything negative when leaving.​

Starting Your Job Search Over

Unfortunately, luck doesn't always work in your favor. Sometimes, the employer has filled the position or doesn't want you back.

I once received a call from an ex-employee who decided he hated his new job on the day he started. In this case, the employee wasn't performing as well as we would have liked. We looked at the resignation as an opportunity for the company to start fresh with a new employee.

If going back to your old job isn't an option, take some time to see if you were judging the job or the company in haste.

Sometimes, our first impressions aren't correct and the job might be a better fit than you expected. Give it a chance and take some time to see if it's as bad as you first thought.

If it really is that awful, start networking with your contacts and get your resume back into circulation. Be honest when you're asked why you're leaving a job you just started (and you will be).

Tell your contacts and the interviewer that the job wasn't a good fit and you decided to pursue other options. You will probably need to provide details on why the position didn't work out, so think about appropriate answers prior to interviewing. These sample interview answers on leaving your job may give you some ideas.

Related Articles: How to Start a Job Search | What To Do When You Hate Your Job How to Quit Your Job