When You Take a Job That You Know You Shouldn’t

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U turn arrow bright red light painting. Studio shot with a black background. Drawn with red LED lights.

The warning lights might be blinking right from the start. Even in the interview there are telltale messages that the job may not be right for you. Maybe you look around and say to yourself, “These are not the people I want to hang around with”. Maybe the entire recruiting process is sloppy and disorganized and you wonder, “If they are putting their best foot forward, I would hate to see the other foot”. 

Then, there is the job itself. The position should make your heart go pitter-patter with excitement about the possibilities. Those possibilities should want you to jump up and yell, “When can I start?!” Forget the actual job description. The real job usually doesn’t have much resemblance to what is written on a form. If you feel nauseous at the thought of showing up in the place every morning, you should follow your gut. Chances are, the organization is not going to change before your start date. 

In spite of all the warning signs, you take the job anyway and there are good reasons to do that especially if you really need the job/money/benefits or need to just get out of the house. But unless you have to take the job for a good reason, DON’T DO IT. Once in, it can be difficult to get out.

Before you take any job you should have good answers to the following questions:

  • Who is my boss? Make sure you meet the person who will be your direct supervisor. Will he or she care that you are showing up? Will there be a honeymoon period? Will he or she help me and be a cheerleader? If not, don’t take the job.
  • Who will I be working with? Meet your colleagues and have “special” time with them. In private they may say, “We need you, we want you, we will help you do something great.” Or, they may say, “Unless you are desperate, run away as fast as you can.” If that is what you hear, take the advice and run.
  • What will I be doing? When you show up you should be doing something that is challenging, fulfilling and brings you joy. Well, that might be a stretch but you should be doing something for which you are trained and enjoy doing. If you enter a job feeling like you will be a prisoner of war, don’t get captured.

Lots of other questions need to be answered before you start including but not limited to: Is there good coffee? Can I bring my dog? What about pay? How long is the commute? Can I wear shorts?

If you struggle with answers to your many questions, it’s probably a good idea to take a pass on the job. If you call in sick on your first day of work because you dread it so much, you should probably just not show up – ever.

Most of us have taken on positions that, despite all of our gut instincts, we take any way. My advice is: don’t do it. Something better will come along.

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