Help! What if my new job sucks too much?
My job is horrible and crushes my soul. For insurance reasons, however, I cannot quit until I have a new job. This week I got an offer. It’s not my dream job, but it is something. The problem, though, is that obviously I’ve never interviewed anyone in person, but they expect to be back in the office by June. So now I’m freaking out about the possibility that I hate him there too. None of the people I interviewed sound awful, but I certainly didn’t walk away thinking I was dying to work with them. Should I take the risk or stay with the heck I know until I can meet the people I would work with face to face?
Short answer: if the best thing you can say about your job is that it’s the devil you know, it’s time to stop. Some people can’t, because quitting means running out of money or health care if they quit – I’ll spare you the rant on how maybe we shouldn’t tie in people’s ability to see a doctor at their employment status – but Mark, you are lucky not to be in that situation, so run away.
Having said that, I understand the dilemma. Hoping for a new, less miserable job only to find out that the new job is just as miserable or worse would be 10 times more scary. And as we return to an IRL existence, none of us have a clear vision of what our life will be like, even if we don’t change jobs. So the particular anguish of knowing even less than most of us about what you are signing up for in a post-vaccination universe must be overwhelming. However, there are ways to minimize the risk of total disaster.
Step one: talk to employees other than those you met in interviews. Personal relationships are the easiest, but even if you don’t have friends there, you have options. Mailing lists and Facebook groups within your profession are good sneaky resources, although it’s worth writing your initial post very carefully in case the group admin is married to your future boss or something. like that. If you find current or former employees, call them for 20 minutes and ask any questions you don’t think you can ask of the hiring manager. If you can’t find anyone, a blind LinkedIn message to someone with the company on their profile isn’t a bad approach. (Take it from someone who once scared a stranger into taking a job working for an incredibly abusive boss that way.)
Honestly, though, you should probably ask the hiring manager more questions. It’s true that they don’t have a great incentive to be honest about the downsides when trying to hire you, but even evasive answers can be revealing. Ask what the office culture was like before the pandemic, then ask for specific follow-ups. Let them know about your concerns about your current job and ask them how their company is tackling similar issues. Learn about the biggest challenges of the department in which you work. Listen to what they don’t say as much as what they do. If they claim everything is perfect, take that as a red flag. And ask to speak to someone in the department – the hiring manager shouldn’t be afraid to put you in touch with someone.
These strategies will help reassure you. But we both know that they can’t entirely eliminate the risk of ending up in a place you hate just as much. I once accepted an offer for what I really thought was a dream job, turning down other opportunities, and… hated it. But you know what? Everything went well! I worked there for a while, unfortunately but with a salary and health insurance, and finally found another job. A regrettable job decision or two is both inevitable and, in all likelihood, harmless in a career spanning decades.