What to do when your dream job isn't what you expected
Imagine that you have finally landed your dream job. After spending weeks or months job hunting, writing resumes and cover letters, and sitting through hours of interviews, you finally landed the job you always wanted. Then imagine yourself a few months into your new role and hating it. The job you coveted is actually more like a nightmare.
So, what happened?
There are many ways that you can fall out of love with your job. Maybe your role changes and you’re spending less time on your favourite part of the job. Maybe you lose colleagues due to restructuring. Or maybe your job just isn’t what it was described as. In any of these instances, an hour at work can feel like a whole day, the challenges that you once found invigorating become unbearable, and you’re no longer bragging about your job to your friends and family. Regardless of the cause, a job you don’t like can be exhausting.
Should I stay?
Once you have come to terms with your job being less of a dream and more of a nightmare, it’s natural to wonder whether it was your fault. You may ask yourself whether you should try harder or stay in the job longer. Sticking it out in a job you don’t enjoy is unlikely to improve the situation. If you’re not happy, your attitude, job performance, and work relationships are going to suffer. You’re allowed to be disappointed that the opportunity didn’t work out, but sticking around and hoping it will improve doesn’t benefit anyone.
Most people don’t have the financial security to quit their job without having a new one on deck. When you start hunting for a new job, think about why your dream job didn’t work out. Consider whether it was the job itself, the company culture, your manager, or the work environment. Spend a lot of time doing research and strategically looking for jobs where all of the factors are aligned to make you happy. It’s important to also be self-reflective and ask yourself what you like doing and what experiences make you the happiest. A career counsellor or personal coach may also be able to help you find some direction.
When you’ve found your next job you’ll need to resign from your current one. Even if you’re moving on to an amazing opportunity, resigning is never easy. When you’re having that conversation with your boss remember to:
Provide Notice: Two weeks notice is generally considered appropriate.
Prepare a Resignation Letter: A formal letter is usually required, but you should tell your manager in-person whenever possible.
Don’t Be Negative: Keep the conversation short and don’t dwell on the negative aspects of the job. You want to leave on good terms so try and emphasize what you enjoyed and learned from the experience.
Any job that doesn’t pan out can be disappointing. When it’s your dream job, it can be especially difficult. If the job duties, colleagues, or work environment are what make you unhappy, it’s important to realize those aren’t likely to change. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just not the right opportunity for you. Spend some time to consider why it didn’t make you happy and move on quickly to a job that will.