Maybe You Really Should Have Turned the Job Down

Nancy Anderson
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After jumping through hoops to land a job offer, it can be devastating to discover your new position is a dud. Looking back, you might even remember early warning signs that the hiring manager was overselling the job or downplaying workplace issues. Instead of surrendering to a bad career move, keep your eyes open for these not-so-subtle hints that it's time to restart your job search.

1. Disgruntled Coworkers

The attitudes of veteran coworkers are usually a reflection of the company culture. A team of unhappy, unmotivated workers is a warning sign that the company has questionable policies or poor management. Be prepared to move on if your coworkers don't care about getting along and never seem enthusiastic about their jobs.

2. Uncoordinated Welcome Wagon

A first day of work is nerve-wracking under the best circumstances, so being ignored, passed around or treated like a burden is a recipe for resentment. Smart managers plan a smooth onboarding process to avoid scaring away new hires. If your new employer was clearly unprepared for your arrival, stay alert to other warning signs that the management team is disjointed and disorganized.

3. Lack of Direction

Bosses and employees who are never on the same page about company goals are a common warning sign of poor direction. Company leaders are responsible for giving employees a shared sense of purpose, and the team can't produce strong results if everyone works blindly without clear objectives. Do your best to understand your role in the big picture — but only to polish up your resume and land your next job.

4. Hazy Job Description

Like a mirage, your job description seemed lucid and exciting during the hiring process and suddenly became unclear once you accepted the position. The real job may focus heavily on duties that were secondary in the original description or any task your teammates don't want to handle. In either case, learn whatever you can from your position, and use your time wisely to find a better job offer.

5. Misleading Interviewers

Asking good interview questions doesn't guarantee truthful answers. Dishonest interviewers might exaggerate company perks or policies in hopes of wooing strong candidates, selling you a false picture of the company culture. Casually verify an interviewer's claims by talking to coworkers and being mindful of negative or tight-lipped responses.

6. Lax Leadership

The hiring manager seemed friendly, proactive and efficient when you interviewed, but miraculously perfected his disappearing act the moment you started working. Evasive, uncommunicative managers are difficult to overcome and make everyone's job harder by refusing to solve problems. Acknowledge the warning signs if hiring managers don't want you to speak to other employees or ask about their leadership methods.

7. Perpetual Dread

While everyone has bad days at work, you shouldn't have a perpetual feeling of dread whenever you think about your job. If you have to accept an unattractive position for financial reasons, keep your job search going until you find the right employer. As unfair as it seems, being employed may help you land another position faster, and lousy experiences make you better at weeding out bad job opportunities.

Warning signs are easy to overlook if you don't have clear job-search priorities. Know what you want from an employer to avoid settling for the wrong position.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Lisa Johnston thanks for your comment. Sounds like you are doing it all the right way. Be careful, though, if a hiring manager tries to press for an answer better than "not a great fit" - or asks why you are not a great fit. Never bad-mouth a supervisor or a co-worker because it inevitably comes back to bite you. You could say that you have gone as far as you can and would like to find a position with more growth potential. That way you don't have to say anything about the behavior of your current supervisor. All the best.

  • Lisa J.
    Lisa J.

    This describes my current situation to a "T". I have been here 8 months and have endured a large amount of bad and illegal behavior from my immediate supervisor and one coworker, while having great working relationships with everyone else. I have begun venturing out on interviews and answering the why are you looking question with it is not a good fit. Any suggestions are welcome on ways to move on from here.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Jack S. sure doesn't sound like it's going to be an easy task to move away from agency work and get back into the real world. They are deathly afraid that you are going to take some secrets with you to use in your next position. The real truth is that, even having to sign a non-compete clause, the knowledge that you gained from the position is going to stick with you - they can't take that away. That's why, even if they don't want to retain you as as employee, they don't want you to work anywhere else either! The only advice that I can offer is to make a statement in your cover letter that, due to security reasons, your current company is not permitted to acknowledge your employment. You can offer to show paystubs, etc. to prove your employment. @Linda A so very sorry that you had to go through that. The non-compete clause that you signed will have to stand, though, unless you can get the company to release you. Legally you can't work in another position in that same industry for the length of the non-compete. So, use your sales talents in another industry - completely different from the one that eliminated your position. I know I had to sign a non-compete clause when I left a tech company and it sure did mess me up. It truly limited where I could apply and it also meant that I couldn't use the knowledge and skills gained from that position for two years! In two years, especially in the tech world, things change so rapidly that I was not able to get another like position because my skills were outdated. So truly think about signing another non-compete clause in the future.

  • Jack S.
    Jack S.

    My current position is so carefully guarded by the Agency I'm working for, I have been denied copies of my own personnel reports and refused employment verification. Sometimes the term "classified" gets overused by the Intelligence Community, particularly when an individual wants to move into the commercial arena after doing years of special service. It can be a personal nightmare, as administrators can treat one with Bureaucratic Arrogance and Narcissistic Abuse, even when you outrank them. A moment for pause.

  • Linda A.
    Linda A.

    My loyalty of signing a 2 year non-compete meant that they were going to keep tapping into my experience, and decreasing my commissions! Then they eliminated my position entirely.

  • Linda A.
    Linda A.

    My last position was that I was invisable to the decision makers, after the long term promises.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Olivia S thanks for your comment. It is unfortunate when something like this happens. We jump without thinking it all the way through because we are desperate for a change. Then we find out that maybe it's not all it was cracked up to be. But now that you are in the position, check around. There may be another position within the government that suits your better. The environment in any state office can be intimidating and oppressive. Everything seems to be very formal. But the good thing is that the benefits are good and so are the people. As for the commute, use it to your advantage. Use that time to "read" some books that you have been wanting to read by putting them on your ipod or other device or even getting books on tapes. That might help make the commute seem shorter. But only you can decide if the job is worth the oppressive atmosphere and the commute. All the best.

  • Olivia S.
    Olivia S.

    I took a job with a State Gov't. I didn't know what I was getting into. I had been on so many interviews and I never heard back from them. Then this agency called and offered me the job. I was in a part-time dead end non-profit organization which was toxic. But it was a trap. I hate it. The commute is too long, the environment intimidating and oppressive. The only good things are the people and the benefits.



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