I recently finished my second week at a new job, and I absolutely hate it.
It was sold to me as an editorial writing role, and it’s turned out to be essentially admin and data entry, with most of my time spent on the phone trying to get information from people who don’t even pick up half the time. I’m already working into the evenings and weekends to get things done within very tight timelines, and because I’m at the mercy of third parties, there’s not much I can do to manage my time better. I know it’s normal to be stressed about a new job, but I really don’t think this one is a good fit for me.
The salary is higher than my last position, but the title is much more junior and less aligned with my long-term career goals. Is it better, from both an etiquette and a résumé perspective, to quit now and leave it off my résumé, hoping to find another position quickly and that interviewers assume I took some time off between jobs? Or should I stick around longer, and then have to include it and explain why I left after, for example, three months?
Even though I hate the work, I also feel bad quitting so soon given that they waited through my notice period at my previous job and have planned out my (packed!) work schedule for the next few months already. I’ve considered telling my manager that I’d be willing to stay on until they find a replacement, but honestly I just want to be out the door ASAP.
I’d talk to my manager before formally resigning, but so far it’s been difficult to raise concerns because she’s so busy and is always rushing or postponing our meetings, and also because I’m on the phone to suppliers most of the day. I’m also conscious that I raised both of those concerns (workload and the nature of the work) during the interview process, and both my manager and the managing director assured me it wouldn’t be … well, exactly the way it is.
Should I just be grateful to have a job and wait to see if it gets better as I settle in, even though right now that thought fills me with dread? Or should I cut my losses fast?
If you’re ready to leave, you can leave. You don’t need to wait longer for either etiquette or résumé reasons — in fact, it’s better on both of those fronts if you leave faster. You might have other reasons for waiting, like if you want to have another job lined up first, but you don’t need to worry in these two regards.
Résumé-wise, if you’re sure you’re going to leave this job pretty soon no matter what, it’s better to do it sooner. That way, you can easily leave the job off your résumé completely and not have to explain in interviews why you left so quickly. (To be clear, having that conversation isn’t likely to be a big deal — you’d explain that you were hired to do X but the job ended up being Y instead, but there’s no point in getting into all of that if you can just skip it entirely.) On the other hand, if you stay there for months, you’re more likely to want to leave the job on your résumé to explain what you were doing during that time.
Etiquette-wise, if you’re sure you’re going to leave pretty soon, it’s easier for your employer if you let them know now. Otherwise, they’re going to invest more time in training you when you know you’re not staying … and if they act quickly, they may even still be able to hire one of the candidates who was interested in the previous hiring round, rather than starting again from scratch. That shouldn’t be your primary consideration when you resign — you get to do what’s best for you, just as they would do what’s best for them — but since you’re asking about the etiquette of it, know that you’re not wronging them by not dragging things out.
It can feel a little weird to tell your manager at a brand-new job that you’re leaving — that might be the element of etiquette that’s actually gnawing at you — but it’s entirely valid to leave when a job turns out to be utterly different from what you were promised (always, but particularly when you were reassured in the interview that that wouldn’t be the case!). In fact, if anyone has committed an etiquette breach here, it’s your company, by selling you on a job that has been exactly what they promised you it wouldn’t be. That’s on them, not on you, and you don’t need to stick around when that happens.
That said, since you’re only two weeks in, it’s smart to stay at least somewhat open to the possibility that what you’ve seen so far isn’t how the job is intended to remain. For example, could they be waiting until you’re more fully trained before setting you loose on the rest of the role, or might you have been pulled in as temporary cover for someone else without realizing it? Given the specific details you shared, that’s probably not the case, but it’s worth being sure before you make up your mind, and the easiest way to do that is by having a straightforward conversation with your boss about the mismatch, in case the issues can be fixed or are temporary.
Since it’s been hard to meet with her because she’s always rushing or postponing meetings, you’ll need to make it clear that there’s something important you need to discuss. Can you send an email that says, “I know you’re swamped, but could we please set aside half an hour this week to talk about how things are going? The job has been mostly admin and data entry so far rather than writing, and I want to get a reality check from you about what’s needed in the role.” A decent manager who gets that message will make time to sit down and talk.
When you meet, you should lay out the situation as clearly as you can; don’t dance around it for the sake of delicacy. Say something like, “I raised these concerns in the interview and at the time it sounded like the job was definitely writing-focused and ____ (fill in with whatever else has turned out not to be the case). Realistically, is it possible for me to do the role as we talked about it then, or are the needs really the data entry and admin I’ve been doing instead?”
Who knows what will come of this. Maybe it’ll turn out there’s an easy fix because your boss didn’t realize how much admin work has been piled on you, or because no one told the person who assigns work to writers that you had come onboard. Or maybe you’ll get vague promises to get you more of the work you want, without any concrete indications of a timeline or next steps to ensure that happens. Be skeptical of the latter; there’s a reason you were worried about exactly this outcome in the interview process, and I’d put real weight behind the fact that those worries have been borne out by your workload so far.
If nothing said in that conversation gives you confidence that things will soon change, at that point you’ll have done your due diligence. If it’s clear that what you’ve seen so far is the job and that’s not a job you want, it’s okay to be up-front about that and move on as soon as you decide you’re ready.
Order Alison Green’s book Ask a Manager: Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work here. Got a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her advice column appears here every other Tuesday.