What To Do if Your New Job Isn't Working Out

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What do you do when a new job isn't anything like you expected? It can be a dilemma, especially if you did all the right things before you accepted the job offer.

First of all, don't panic. You do have options, and this may not be as much of a crisis as you think it is. Here’s what you can do if that new job just isn’t working out for you.

Is Your Old Job an Option?

Sometimes going back to your old job is an option. Here’s an example: Maureen Nelson. Maureen worked for Employer A, which was located across the street from Company B. Employer A was a contract position and Maureen needed benefits, so she went to B. Company B had buyer's remorse after two months (Maureen never knew why) and she was asked to resign.

Maureen called Employer A back, and they said, "Great! Can you be here tomorrow morning at 9:00?" Because they were so close geographically, the commute was identical, and her routine hardly changed.

The story gets better, though. Maureen explains, "The best part: A few months later, I was hired at Employer C, which paid me 30% more ($15K) than Employer B did! I actually moved for that job. It's like the Chinese folktale that starts with the horse running away—you never know whether it's good luck or bad luck."

In Maureen's case, she took a chance and made her own new luck. It worked out well for her.

Doing All the Right Things

Another person had done everything you should do when it came to both her job search and to evaluating a position at one of the top employers in the United States. She interviewed several times, researched the company, evaluated the job offer, and talked to her future coworkers and supervisor.

Presuming that she had made a good decision, she packed her bags and relocated to a new city to take what she thought was an exciting new job. Only it wasn't. The position was nothing like anyone had described it.

The only explanation she got when she asked about the difference between the job she thought she was hired for and what she was doing was that she could work her way up to more responsibility.

After the first couple of days on the job, she knew it wasn't going to work out, so she called her old boss. She was lucky—the job wasn't filled, she had resigned gracefully and parted on excellent terms with her old employer, and she didn't have to start a new job search. They hired her back on the spot.


These experiences are good examples of how you never know what will happen in the future. This is why it's always important to follow protocol, give adequate notice, and avoid saying anything negative when leaving your current job.

Starting Your Job Search Over

Unfortunately, luck doesn't always work in your favor. Sometimes, the employer has filled the position or doesn't want you back, and you’re either stuck with your new job or you’ll have to find something else.

When Your Old Job Isn't an Option

For example, someone leaves his job for a new position. But he decides he hates his new job on the day he starts. He calls his old company to see if they’ll hire him back. However, he hadn’t performed as well at his old job as he should have so the company had looked at the resignation as an opportunity to start fresh with a new employee.

Give the New Job a Chance

If going back to your old job isn't an option, take some time to see if you were judging the job or the company in haste. Sometimes, our first impressions aren't correct, and the job might be a better fit than you expected. Give it a chance and take some time to see if it's as bad as you first thought.

Start a Job Search

If it really is that awful, start networking with your contacts and get your resume back into circulation. Be honest when you're asked why you're leaving a job you just started (and you will be).

What to Say to Hiring Managers

Tell your contacts and interviewers that the job wasn't a good fit and you decided to pursue other options. You will probably need to provide details on why the position didn't work out, so think about appropriate answers prior to interviewing.

Reviewing sample interview answers on leaving your job may give you some ideas.

Key Takeaways

Don’t Panic: You have options and this temporary reversal may lead you to a better opportunity.

Professionalism Pays Off: Always be sure to resign gracefully and leave on good terms. You may be able to return to an old job or use your former colleagues as a reference for a new job.

Be Prepared to Explain Why You’re Leaving: Stay positive but be honest. It’s fine to say that a job just wasn’t a good fit. position didn't work out, so think about appropriate answers prior to interviewing.

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