The dream jobs of many new hires become nightmares once reality sinks in
Be careful what you work for – you just might get it.
President Donald J. Trump admitted to Reuters that being the Commander-in-Chief isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” he said, noting he has missed driving and being able to travel without 24/7 Secret Service detail. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 28, 2017
The Oval Office comes with caveats that often outweigh the perks – something which many employees have learned the hard way during their first few months at a dream job. In fact, half of new hires regret taking the position within the first year, according to one survey.
Graphic designer Melissa, 32, suffered such “hires’ remorse” after advancing into a marketing manager position at a new company last year.
“I thought it was going to be a giant leap into a great work/design experience with a known company,” she told Moneyish, withholding her name because she feared repercussions from the family-run business. “Within a week, I knew I made a terrible decision, and had no idea how to get out.”
Rather than working on brand campaigns and negotiating ad contracts as she had been hired to do, she was a “glorified secretary” who set up meetings and was left out of decisions that the family members running the company would make on the fly.
“Everyone was yelling at me every day. I was miserable,” she said.
George, a 33-year-old art history major who also asked to withhold his last name, said he suffered a similar bait-and-switch when he took a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art straight out of college.
“It was a huge deal, a dream come true,” he said, thinking he’d signed on to produce the audio guides that museum visitors can rent for self-guided tours. Instead, he found himself selling the audio guides on the floor.
“I ended up just being a retail clerk. I was crestfallen,” he said. “And it was really, really unpleasant. They were strict about breaks, about talking to the other clerks, and I was even sexually harassed.“
Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster, said that this acceptance remorse is all too common, especially when you’re being considered by a dream employer.
“Candidates may go into the interview process wearing rose-colored glasses … and they didn’t do enough research, or they’re not getting the specifics in the interview … and the job may not be what you thought,” she said.
Some people are sold a trumped-up position at a company, and later learn that the job isn’t at all what they were promised. Others who might have bluffed a bit too much on their resumes find they aren’t qualified to do what they signed up for – or maybe they didn’t do enough research into what the job actually entailed.
George said he learned from his experience. “You need to ask a lot of questions, and make sure the company is very clear about exactly what you’ll be doing,” he said. “They don’t teach you that in college, and I was so desperate for a job, and so bedazzled by the Met, that I just said ‘yes’ without knowing what I was getting into. Which turned out to be a s—show.”
But plenty of people suffer job dissatisfaction even when their bosses aren’t awful – like, when they become the boss, themselves.
“When you move up the ladder, the work gets harder,” job counselor Cheryl Palmer, founder of Call to Career, told Moneyish. “People are dazzled by the prestige, the job title and the money, but then when you actually have to do the job, it’s a different story.”
She said it is very common for people who advance to managerial roles to experience some culture shock. “When you were an individual contributor, you just had to worry about the work that you did. But now at the managerial level you have to deal with different personalities and work through people to get the job done,” said Palmer.
Plus, great power and great paychecks usually come with great responsibility, so working late or being on call 24/7 is now part of the job description. Or your new gig may entail frequent business trips that take you away from your family, or you may have to move across the country.
That was the case with Ronnika Williams, who received a job offer just days after graduating college for a position she’d applied for two years prior. “The timing was perfect. I was going to be the new archives manager for an art institution,” she told Moneyish. “I wanted this job so bad that I moved across the country without relocation expenses being offered.”
She soon learned that was a big mistake. “I was working almost every weekend because we were short staffed. The opportunity for growth or the many other things that were promised in the beginning were not met. My health insurance was even terrible. I was devastated,” she said. “When I was informed that I was being laid off after only working for a year I was elated.”
But even if a new position doesn’t feel like a good fit, experts suggest you try to make it work for a few months. “Every new job should be a stretch, it should be outside of your comfort zone,” said Salemi. That’s how you grow. “But before you freak and hit the panic button, take a moment. If you have too much work, delegate to an assistant. If you need to learn something about the internal system, and no one has had time to train you, talk to a boss and have her put you on the calendar to be trained.”
Palmer also suggested seeing if your company has training and mentoring programs to help you adjust to your new role. “A lot of places do executive coaching, or managerial courses, or perhaps there’s someone you can meet with on a weekly basis to see what you need to do differently to be successful,” she said.
But the experts all agree that if an employer or a work environment is toxic – or you really feel in over your head – the sooner you get out of there, the better. “Especially in terms of an awful boss, or the place is unethical and telling you to lie on time sheets and expenses, It’s only going to get worse,” said Salemi. “Cut your losses, start looking and circulating your resume again while your interview skills are still sharp.”
Melissa toughed it out at her nightmare marketing job for six months. She finally walked away when one of the owners yelled at her for a mistake she could prove was not her fault. “I got another job a month later, and gave them two days notice,” she said. “It was the best decision I ever made. I’m much happier now.”
© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved