4 ways to avoid career regret before starting a new role

By Robert Half on 14 October 2022

As many professionals across Singapore learn to live with COVID-19, more organisations are asking their employees to return to the office permanently — and that has more professionals thinking about quitting.

Changing jobs is always an adventure, of course, and there is always a chance that a new employment situation won’t turn out to be as fulfilling as hoped.

Moving too fast to change course in your career can add to that risk, ultimately leading to what can be called "career regret".

That’s what many professionals are finding after they have abruptly quit their job as part of the Great Resignation’s mass exodus and jumped into a new position at a different company.

They are feeling career regret about switching jobs.

Career regrets can occur when a candidate does not have a solid understanding of what the position entails before they accept an offer and/or they do not have a good sense of the company’s culture before they join the organisation.

So how can you reduce your chances of feeling remorse after getting hired?

1. Do your research before applying

Many professionals simply aren’t doing their homework before they submit their resume to a potential employer.

In some cases, candidates are focusing too much on one or two aspects of an opportunity, such as the advertised salary or a company’s brand name, and thus, aren’t considering the full picture.

While you can never really know what it’s like to work at a company until you’re there, you can certainly gather a lot of insight before an interview.

Resources to explore include employer review sites and, of course, your own professional network.

You can also glean a great deal about an employer’s workplace culture from the company’s website and blog, its social media sites and its reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, including its progress on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the organisation.

Related: How to research a company before a job interview

2. Ask for specifics during the interview process

Sometimes, job candidates are uncomfortable asking hiring managers for more details about the job or organisational culture.

Don’t feel that way.

The interview process should be a two-way street. You need to know that you will be joining a company and taking on a role that will be right for you just as much as a potential employer needs to confirm that you are likely to thrive in their organisation.

Asking thoughtful questions will also help set you apart from other contenders, and it’s a great way to demonstrate your soft skills during the hiring process.

Here are a few examples of questions you might want to pose to the interviewer, depending on the circumstances and who you are meeting with:

  • Why is this position open?
  • If I perform like the person promoted ahead of me, what growth opportunities would likely be available to me in the organisation?
  • I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but what is the performance review process like at the company? And do you conduct these reviews annually, every six months or more frequently?
  • If the individual interviewing you would be your direct supervisor, consider asking questions such as: “How often would you and I meet, formally or informally?” and “What skills and attributes do you think are most important for someone in this role to possess so they can succeed?”

3. Get the handle on remote work

If you’re in the running for a position that will have you working remotely all or part of the time, you’ll want to gauge how well-supported you’d be in that role.

Many professionals in Singapore currently feeling career regrets about a new job situation are working remotely, and they found out too late that their employer is not doing enough to ensure they have clear expectations and deadlines to meet, are feeling engaged and motivated and are kept in the loop on company news and team updates.

Related: How to find remote jobs without leaving the house

Here are a few questions you may want to ask a hiring manager about a remote job opportunity:

  • What is the onboarding process like?
  • Will I have both a mentor and a work “buddy” assigned to me? (Note: Larger organisations will typically assign both to new hires. A mentor will help guide you as you learn how to manage your role and responsibilities, while a buddy is on hand to lend support as you navigate the company’s culture and forge relationships with your new colleagues.)
  • Do you have employee networking groups? What types of virtual activities do they arrange for their members?
  • How does the company ensure that remote workers have the same opportunities as on-site employees to participate in professional development, compete for advancement opportunities, and take advantage of perks and benefits designed to promote workers’ health and well-being?

4. Take your time to avoid career regrets

You may be in a hurry to land a new job, and likewise, the hiring manager you’re meeting with may be eager to staff the role that you’re vying for.

But don’t feel pressured to move so quickly that you can’t go into your decision-making with a clear head and the confidence that you are making the right choice. It’s well worth taking the time to be certain — for both you and your potential employer.

If there isn’t enough time in the interview to cover all your questions, or if you think of things you’d like to ask after the fact, request a follow-up meeting with the hiring manager by phone or video.

As part of that request, let that person know that nothing you’d like to discuss is a dealbreaker (even if it might be) because you don’t want to remove yourself from consideration inadvertently.

Related: 6 tips for a mid-life career switch in Singapore

Simply say you’d like to gather a bit more insight to help inform your decision-making.

If the company is truly interested in hiring you, then they will make the effort to help you collect the information you need to say “yes” to their job offer with enthusiasm — and hopefully, avoid feeling any career regrets after you join the organisation.

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