Dear Sam: I recently graduated with my master’s degree and was offered a job at a well-known and reputable company this past April. Given the position title and description, I thought it was going to be similar to a job experience I had prior and thoroughly enjoyed; hence, I was excited and confident to jump in.
Now, 5 months later, I find I have not used a fraction of my education. There are weeks where I have not had one single thing to work on. This is not unknown to my manager either as I bring it up every week in our meeting. Not only am I tremendously bored, but I’m also growing less and less confident by not using or improving any of my skills.
I thought this would be a great place to gain experience and get my foot in the door. Even though I knew from the beginning this was not my forever career, I’m questioning how valuable this ‘experience’ is if I’m not using, gaining, or improving any of my skills. Most days I dread coming into work knowing I have nothing to keep me busy.
I want to give it time to see if something improves, but I’m not sure how much time to give. I know my skills can be better utilized than this, but I’m not sure how/when/if to make my next move. If you have any advice or suggestions for me as to how to move forward, please let me know. I’d hate to waste too much time here and be in a worse position than I already feel like I am. – Bored & Lacking Confidence
Dear Bored & Lacking Confidence: I am so sorry to hear this role has not met your expectations. That can certainly be a tricky situation given it is your first career position and you do not want to start a picture of being a job-hopper. Given you have already been quite vocal that you are eager to embrace the responsibilities you were promised, and because you are continuing to voice to your supervisor that you are desperately seeking tasks and projects, I imagine it is unlikely that your current situation will change to your liking.
Based on that, I would start to launch a targeted job search, presenting this experience as “2018-present” on your resume. The reader doesn’t have to know, at least initially, that the experience has only lasted for 5 months. During the interview, you should have no shame in explaining that the position you were hired for and your job description do not in any way match your role and on most days you spend your time chasing things to do as you love to be immersed in your work, act purposefully, and stay busy. Any potential employer will take these as positive traits reflecting well on you. Don’t worry about the perception of your looking for a job after just 5 months; hiring managers understand that sometimes positions are not what they seem, and it is often best to make a change than to stay and languish.
As you likely will not be informing your current supervisor of your job search, see if you can get in touch with any former peers or managers who may have been privy to your work style and work ethic while at the company and see if you can glean a letter of recommendation from them. I suggest this as I doubt you have had a performance review yet, so a letter of recommendation will vouch that the reason for your desired departure is nothing related to performance and, instead, your work ethic and drive just aren’t syncing with the company’s needs.
I wish you tremendous success in your search. If you are still with the company when we get to the new year, that will allow you to list “through 2019” on your resume regardless of when you may end up leaving the company in 2019 which could be an added benefit for your resume; but don’t hold up your search for that purpose, as this is a strong time in the market. Go get that great job that will keep you busy, learning, and growing as a professional!