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September 9, 2016

The Job That Turned Into a Mistake

Lucy Bishop


You've put in the hours on your résumé, attended the first interview, done the role assessments, attended the second interview, and finally, finally, you get the phone call that you were waiting for…

“We were really impressed. You've got the job. When can you start?”

A Rush of Feelings

So many different feelings wash over you… happy that you got the job, sad that you might be leaving your current employer, confused about what to do next. Should you take the job? Is it right for you? How will you tell your manager?

There's a great satisfaction that comes with getting positive feedback on your résumé, and realizing that you've come across well in an interview. Also, that the interviewers saw potential in you above your competition, and that your qualifications and experience are desirable. But sometimes, despite all of that, you're still left questioning whether it really is the job for you.

A while back in my career, I was lucky enough to be offered a new job. I'd been with my then current employer for a number of years and thought it might be good to have a change. There was nothing wrong with my current role as such. I liked the people, my manager was lovely, the work was what I wanted to do and it kept me busy (in a good way). And yet I couldn't help wondering whether there was something better out there, whether I needed a new challenge.

So I accepted the job.

Living up to Expectations

But I was sadder than I thought I would be when it came around to leaving, and more nervous to be starting somewhere new than I'd expected. I'd made some really good friends at my old place. My manager had tried to get me to stay and the managing director had even caught me in the corridor to ask why I wanted to leave.

In spite of my concerns, I told myself that I'd made my choice and would stick by it. My first day at the new company finally came, and with it all the nerves and excitement of starting a new job. But, when I got there, I was shown to a desk in a small corner office. It was closed plan… how did I not realize this before? What I found out later was that you could sometimes go for a couple of days without seeing anyone, particularly if the other two people who worked in my bit of the office were away.  I'd only ever worked in open plan offices before, and this new way of working felt isolating.

I also began to notice that the parts of the job specification that I was really interested in, and that had attracted me to the role in the first place, represented only a very small part of the workload. And that, in fact, what I ended up doing mostly was either basic admin stuff or… nothing at all!

In fact, looking back, it turned out to be a bit of a non-job. At one point, a week went by without any work crossing my desk. "That's it," I thought. "This just doesn't feel like the right job for me."

Accepting My Mistake

The job wasn't at all like it was advertised and, ultimately, learning nothing was getting me nowhere fast. I thought that I'd left my old job for a new prospect that was going to challenge me and broaden my skills. Instead, it felt like a massive step back. Sure it was more money, but only marginally… and was it really worth it for that small increase in salary? I asked to speak to my manager and explained how I felt. He understood. I guess that's what a probation period is for.

Luckily for me, I'd kept on good terms with my old employer, and they welcomed me back with open arms. Walking back into my old office might have been embarrassing (the first time at least), but ultimately it was the right decision for me to make. Not only for my career, but also for my personal happiness and sanity (there's only so much nothing you can do).

If you have been in a similar situation or are unsure of a job offer that you've recently received, have a look at our new article and remember, don't make the same mistake that I made. Look before you leap!

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2 comments on “The Job That Turned Into a Mistake”

  1. Wonder someone else was also experiencing my story with a small difference that i was never able to go back as the position was already filled.

    1. It's similar to my story as well Manisha! I was on contract with an employer I loved, people I loved and the location was great. Yet, they kept saying that my contract was not going to be renewed. I finally got frustrated by this 'threat' and started looking for another job. When I finally secured a new job, on the day I was handing in my resignation, they offered me a permanent role. By that time, I felt I was already committed to the new employer and went. It was a 'mistake' and also could not go back to my previous employer.

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