Said yes to the wrong job?

By Mel Sim

How to handle if you made the wrong career move

True story – I once took on a job in the fashion industry thinking that it would be my calling. It was a new brand, something I would work from scratch to build. I was given all freedom and opportunity to explore my creativity. What’s not to like, right?

Unfortunately, just two months into the job, I realise there was everything about that job not to like. I should have realised this in the first place – when I was given the job, I wasn’t in a good place career wise. I had quit my previous job without anything planned for the future, was desperate for something new and so when this opportunity came along with the right salary, it thought hey, this must be a sign!

It was a sign indeed, a sign that my new job was the wrong job.

Aside from that whole being desperate for a job thing, there were many other indications why this shiny new job was the wrong choice for me. First, my day-to-day role didn’t quite match the job description I was sold. Instead of coming up with marketing ideas, I would spend more time at the shop selling clothes and being a sales staff instead (wait, what?). On top of that, I wasn’t learning anything and my boss – who had his nose in plenty other businesses – didn’t really seem to care about the direction of this new business. On the rare occasion, he would call for a meeting, tell us his ideas and that’s it; no hearing us out, no asking for our ideas. Even his ideas were vague! Because I didn’t feel challenged at all, I was bored frequently. On top of it all, the person I was supposed to be working closely with complained non-stop about the company and often said I made a mistake joining them. OK....

Above it all, my gut feeling told me I was in the wrong job and I needed to get out of it quickly.

Sounds familiar? If this is you in your current job, bad news – you may have made the wrong career move like I did. Don’t beat yourself up over it though; making wrong choices in life is part and parcel of how we learn... and eventually end up where we are supposed to. Experiences – good and bad – are what makes us better at judging things and knowing exactly what we want in life. In this case, experiencing a bad career move helped me realise what I really wanted out of my career.

So what do you do if you’re in the wrong job? Here are four things to think about:

Know that it takes time to adjust. It takes three months for you to adjust to something new, and that includes a new job. Sometimes, being part of something completely out of your expertise and norm can make you feel all out of whack. So much so you begin to question yourself if the job is right for you. Before making any drastic decisions, you should instead give yourself – and the job – a chance. Don’t confuse being overwhelmed with being dissatisfied. Have an open mind and resolve to try your best at least for the next three months to see if things get better. Then when you reach that mark, analyse how you feel and decide if the job is really wrong for you.

Is it you... or is it the job? Are you sure it is the job that’s the wrong fit... and not you who is the wrong fit? The answer to this question can help you make the decision on whether you should stay or go. If the job is what’s wrong because of working conditions, the culture or your boss, then you know you’ve definitely made the wrong choice in your career. But if you’re the type to constantly switch jobs because you get bored easily, then the problem actually lies with you. So give it a good thought on why the new job is not working out. If it is you, aim to change your perception instead of just calling it quits.

Focus on the future. What do you want for yourself in the future? Do you want to stick to an industry that you’ve always wanted to try out... or do you want to be good at something you know you already have the skills for? In my case, I soon realised that maybe I didn’t have what it takes to be in the marketing line and being in a situation that didn’t help me see any potential to it made it easier to call it quits. I could have found a different opportunity in marketing but I soon landed in another position where I was more comfortable with and realised that I shouldn’t have been so quick to want to make a career change when I was actually really good at what I was doing before.

Trust your gut. You know when you’ve made the wrong choice. You go to work dreading it each day, you don’t have anything to look forward to, and all you can think about is how to get out. If this is your case, then there’s nothing wrong with calling it quits and saying, sorry it’s me, not you.

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