Dear Sam: I want to preface this question by saying that I am not a job-hopper. I worked at my last company for 8 years and the company before that for 11. As a result of a major reorganization, I lost my job in late 2021 and was fortunate to find a new position quickly. While the new role wasn’t everything I had hoped for regarding title and salary, I felt there was room for growth. In addition, with the holiday season approaching quickly, I felt pressure to take a position versus being unemployed when hiring slows down near the end of the year.
In hindsight, that wasn’t a smart decision. I should have continued my job search and perhaps taken advantage of the new year hiring boom that always seems to occur. Within the first few hours in my new role, I started to see warning signs that the company, position, and culture may not be suitable for me. On my first day, my direct supervisor resigned, leaving me responsible for my onboarding and initial training. In front of me, my colleagues spoke negatively about the company within moments of my arrival. My office was not ready, my equipment was not delivered, and I did not have access to the company intranet or email system until day three of my first week. Overall, I felt ill-prepared to hit the ground running and had an overwhelming sense that my arrival wasn’t that well-timed.
Regardless of those initial feelings, I decided to give the position six months and see how I felt around that point. As you can imagine, I am not writing to tell you the position turned around, but instead to ask you about the impact of starting a job search and potentially leaving this position before I have even completed my first year will have. I could decide to resign, provide notice, and work on my job search full-time, as long as my search didn’t end up being an extended period. I’m just not sure what to do and what would be best for future opportunities. — Confused
Dear Confused: Excellent question, and I am very sorry to hear you are in this situation and that it didn’t rectify itself as things settled in the new year. First, you have not been a job-hopper in your career, so I would not have any fear of a hiring manager thinking that of you. Instead, most hiring managers will completely understand that a position and culture are sometimes not suitable for the candidate. It is entirely acceptable to communicate that to a potential employer, doing so, of course, without disparaging your current employer.
Given the nature of our current job market, I would say you are likely “safe” to focus full-time on your job search. However, as you were just in a job search, I imagine you could get an excellent start on a new search even while being employed, perhaps removing some of the stress about taking one of the first jobs that comes your way. As you found yourself in that situation last year, and as you have since reflected and wished you would have done things differently, I would say that you may feel more comfortable continuing to do your best in your current role while engaging in a new search for a position better aligned with your needs.
When you go to an interview and are asked why you are leaving your current employer, you can state that you accepted the position at what turned out to be a challenging time in the organization. You can explain that your direct supervisor exited the day you arrived, unbeknownst to the entire team, and while you enjoy being an independent self-starter, the lack of that leader created a turbulent situation in what turned out to be an already challenged culture. Hence, after deciding to dedicate more than six months to the role to see if the environment self-corrected, you have concluded that it would be best to find a setting, company, culture, and team that better align with your professional needs and find your next ‘home’ where you can thrive for years to come.
I wish you all the best in your search and am confident you will be successful.