“I need to admit the truth,” the caller said. “I quit a perfectly good job and landed in a perfectly horrid one.”
“In hindsight, it was inevitable I’d quit. I liked my supervisor, but she had her quirks. And each of my friends was quitting their job and emailing me about the great new jobs and employers they’d found. LinkedIn was sending me job posts that sounded intriguing. In every one of them, I’d be learning new duties, advancing my career.
“Then came the offer I couldn’t refuse. A higher salary, and a signing bonus in six months. More flexibility. More career advancement opportunities. The interviewing manager saying he’d build a whole department around me.”
“I was too dazzled and naïve to realize that meant I’d be the only employee tasked with a whole department’s work and would have no one to learn from.
“I started with high hopes. I found chaos. With no one to train me and anxious to prove myself, I wound up working nine-hour days. I couldn’t enjoy the flexibility because I had to scramble to stay afloat with the responsibilities coming my way. After a month I realized the manager had oversold the job.”
If a similar story has happened to you, you’re not alone. According to a Harris Poll, a third of employees who’ve jumped ship in the past two years are looking for new jobs. The poll reports that one in five employees who quit jobs in the past two years regret it, with only 26% of job switchers liking their new jobs enough to stay.
A sizable number of the millions of employees who switched jobs found that interviewers, desperate to hire, oversold the jobs they offered. A record 72% of 2,500 employees surveyed who started a new job reported that the job or company they’d entered was “very different” from what they had been led to believe during the interview. Nearly half of those surveyed said they’d try to get their former job back.
If you want to avoid quitter’s remorse, follow these steps before and after you change jobs:
1. If irritation with a current employer makes you want to jump ship, consider having a crucial conversation with your current manager first. You can switch jobs, or you can work through issues and fix the job you’re in.
2. If a salary hike tempts you, let your current employer know. They may offer you more to keep you.
3. When you’re interviewing, watch for red flags such as “We’ll build the department around you.” What does really mean? Or “We’ll give you a signing bonus in six months.” Does that mean if you last six months?
4. Remember that when an interviewer woos you, they tell you everything great about their organization. They tell you what they like about you — and that feels so good that you may leap before you look. Before you buy a new car, you don’t simply listen to the salesperson. You take a test drive, learn the average mileage other drivers achieve, research the safety ratings and read Consumer Reports. Can you afford to do less with a job in which you’ll invest 2,080 or more hours of your next year of life?
5. Ask good questions during the hiring process, such as, “What led the last person to leave?” “What are the challenges you expect the person in this position to face?” “What’s a normal workday and workweek?” “What’s the biggest challenge facing this department right now?” “Can I meet some members of the department before I start?”
Finally, if you regret having taken a new job, consider contacting your former employer. They may welcome you back.
If not, you can move back into job search mode or resolve to make a go of your new job. Regardless of what happens, don’t kick yourself for jumping ship or stay mired in regret. If you let self-criticism flood your brainwaves, you dilute your ability to tackle new challenges or truly engage in your new job.