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How to Recover After a Bad Career Move

How to Recover After a Bad Career Move

You already knew that it was difficult to make career decisions. But did you know that we’re too often drawn to make the worst job choices?

According to Executive Coach Yolanda Yu, many job seekers take a job because they’re afraid they won’t have any options if they don’t accept mediocre offers.

“It is not hunger but the fear of hunger that leads us to eat anything available — toxic, no nutrition, bad food choices. This mindset is the mindset of scarcity in famine, although we live in abundance. The fundamental belief is ‘I will not get what I want,'” she said.

But what if you’ve already made that bad career move? Perhaps you’ve taken a job you loathe and want to leave as quickly as possible. Maybe you’ve inadvertently taken a position that’s a step from a previous role, or you don’t get along with your boss.

The good news is that there’s hope. Here, we’ll talk about what you can do when your new job turns out to be a mistake. 

Make sure it’s really time to go.

If you don’t like your job right off the bat, you might be responding to a new environment or lack of control more than to the position itself. A good rule of thumb is to stick it out for three months before you quit. This gives you enough time to settle in and get the lay of the land.

If three months pass, and you’re still unhappy, consider doing your due diligence at the company before quitting. Talk with your boss about the issues you’re having; maybe they can alleviate some of your concerns. Or if you’re not clicking with your immediate manager, for instance, you could talk to someone even higher up at the company.

🧳 If nothing still changes in the position, it’s time to look for a way out. 🧳

Make a plan for an exit; there’s no need to “wait it out.”

Some job seekers think they have to last a year in a job they hate. This isn’t the case. Now, more than ever, companies are willing to hire candidates who haven’t stayed for very long in a role (especially if you explain your reasons for your limited tenure in your cover letter and interview).

So, there’s no reason to keep going in a role just to meet arbitrary milestones future employers don’t even care about. If you want to stay to finish a project, that’s up to you, but don’t let what you imagine employers might want to dictate whether you stay or go.

“Don’t just tough it out. Yes, you may decide that it makes more sense to stay longer — e.g., to reach an anniversary or to finish a project. But you want to proactively decide this, not just suffer in silence and assume there is no other way. If something isn’t working, admit that it’s not working,” suggests Caroline Ceniza-Levine, founder of the Dream Career Club.

Figure out how you learned and grew from the experience.

When you make a bad career move, you can feel demoralized. You might berate yourself for taking the wrong job, wasting time, and having to start from square one in the application process.

But both for yourself and for your future career, try to pay attention to the silver lining: what you’ve learned.

Perhaps you’ve made some strong network contacts, or you developed new skills. Or maybe your takeaways are more emotional, like your self-respect and belief in your own resiliency.

“Be specific and make a list spelling out why you are now a more well-rounded professional than before. Focusing on what you have gained instead of what you have lost out on might feel counterintuitive, but give it a go. No experience is ever wasted,” suggests Careers Enhanced.

Learn how to identify the problems you’re experiencing in this role earlier in the interview process.

You may also have learned what you didn’t want only after making a bad career move. In other words, perhaps you only recognized that red flags were red flags after you started your job.

But you don’t want to get into the same sinking ship twice, right? Before you start job hunting, identify what you want and don’t want. Then, when you read job applications and interviews, you won’t make the same mistakes again. In interviews specifically, you’ll know what to ask the hiring committee in order to land a more satisfying role.

Have the courage to do what you really want to do.

Perhaps you fell into the trap of taking a job because you were afraid you wouldn’t find anything better. Maybe taking a job and then disliking it has even become a pattern for you.

If so, it’s time to take stock of what you really want to be doing. If you’re not following your dream in favor of doing what’s practical or expected, you may always find yourself dissatisfied with your work. For instance, if you want to spend more time with your family, but you keep taking high-powered job after high-powered job, then you’re not likely to ever be content in your professional life.

Too often, Yu says, we ignore our dreams in favor of practicality.

“These desires are not often heard. They are kept in places where no rational calculation can reach. A life decision is not the same as a business decision. All you need to do is to listen to it,” she said.

So, perhaps the most important lesson you can learn from your bad career move is to follow the path you really want to pursue.

Rebounding from a Bad Career Move.

So, you’re unhappy with your new job and want to make a change. Now, you want to make sure you’re heading in a satisfying new direction and won’t take a wrong turn again.

It’s time to reach out to your network: friends, your spouse, your colleagues, and your wider network. What do they see in your career future? What alternatives seem right for you?

If both you and your contacts are stumped about what you should do next, consider connecting with one of Ivy Exec’s Career Coaches. Our team can help you dream up options you may never have even thought of.

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