April 23, 2018 ・ Written by T.J. Duane

The smart way to get out of a bad job

Breathe. Take your time. Find the right alternative.

The smart way to get out of a bad job

I heard from a BrightCrowd member recently who was in the wrong job. She had only been there 6 months and already she knew the fit was bad. She needed to begin planning her exit, but was feeling trapped. She thought her network was already tapped out, and that there was no clear next step.

This is absolutely normal - sometimes a new job turns into a misfire. Hiring managers and candidates alike make mistakes. Sometimes negative office dynamics only become clear after you start. Truly, this happens to the best of us.

Before you start contemplating leaving your job, remember not to panic. While a bad job fit might trigger your fight-or-flight response, a little planning can help make your next move a step in the right direction.

Identify what you love…and what you don’t.

Already know what your dream job is? You can skip this step. But what about the rest of us?

There are a thousand factors that influence your job satisfaction. Write down your thoughts on the following topics:

  • Nonprofit, public, or for-profit sectors?
  • Are you looking to have a particular social impact?
  • Are you open to new locations?
  • Is the opportunity to telework important for you?
  • What kind of corporate culture/office environment do you prefer?

You should also review what’s working (and what’s not) about your current position. Make a list of pros and cons for easy visualization.

After you’ve compiled your list, envision a next step that makes sense. Do you go in business for yourself? Move laterally in your current company? Or find an entirely new industry? (Don’t worry if your next move seems like a leap. We’ll get you there.)

Don’t ask for a job - explore your area of interest.

The BrightCrowd member who wrote me was worried that she had already “used up” her network’s goodwill. I think that’s pretty limiting view - a friendly request for advice isn’t likely to be met with disdain. Your crowd holds thousands of helpful people. There’s more kindness there than many realize.

The way to get the most out of your network is to frame what you are looking for correctly. An explicit ask for a job is less likely to garner a response than a humble request for advice.

Take the time to speak to others in your desired industry - how did they get where they are? Did they take classes? Go to meetups? Consult on the side?

Before you start applying elsewhere, take the time to be a student. The connections and conversations you find at this stage can help you find the path to your next big thing.

Leverage your learning to make the right move.

Remember - there are multiple paths to finding your way at work. Traditional “apply online” job hunting isn’t the only option, so no need to despair if it doesn’t yield results right away.

Many people begin their new career as a side-gig that grows organically. Others reconnect with old friends who help them cross over into a new industry. Some folks go back to school, or take classes outside of work that help ease them into a new career. There may even be professional development opportunities at your current job, if you ask.

Careers are rarely a perfect, straight trajectory upwards. Almost everyone struggles, shifts, refocuses, and uses their network to do it. You can, too.

If you’re looking for a switch, try tapping into your helpful network on BrightCrowd.