What to do when your dream job falls short of your job expectations

job expectations

When the disappointment sets in, you may be tempted to throw in the towel and move on. But that may not be the best solution.

Sometimes, job expectations don’t live up to reality when you embark on what you believe to be the job of your dreams. Whether your day-to-day responsibilities wildly conflict with the job description or whether your employer has shifted gears during the hiring process, it’s challenging to be productive when you’re heavy with disappointment. However, starting a lacklustre job doesn’t have to be a negative career experience or leave a gaping hole in your resume.

Here are four strategies for dealing with the fallout when the job is not what you expected.

1. Raise concerns with your manager

If you suspect your job isn’t what you thought it would be, raise your concerns with your manager before jumping to conclusions. Your supervisor may be well-versed in the challenges of attracting and retaining talent, and your job satisfaction should be a high priority. It’s important to start a dialogue about why your duties don’t line up with the job description and ask for tasks that more closely fit your experience and skills. It’s important to be professional, courteous and proactive during this discussion – if you give in to resentment, you’ll start this process on the wrong foot.

2. Schedule a discussion with an HR representative

If you’re working around the clock or finding yourself knee-deep in client issues you’re not qualified to tackle, schedule an appointment with human resources. HR professionals understand that workplace dissatisfaction can be corrosive and are likely to make moves to get you help. Whether you want to enrol in training or ask for flexible working arrangements, don’t be afraid to make suggestions that could see your job improve. Often, small changes to your work life can have a big impact on your state of mind.

3. Seek out perspective

It’s easy to hit the panic button when the duties you’re suddenly faced with seem to come from left field. But lack of communication, low support levels and mounting pressure can make you feel that work life is much different from how you had imagined it before you took on this position. At this point, it’s worth scheduling exercise, a weekend away or some meditation to put your issues into perspective. Failing that, write down the duties you’re suddenly charged with and compare the list with the tasks for the job you signed up for – putting it in writing will help determine whether you have cause to be worried or if you’re overreacting.

4. Take a deep breath and decide to move on

Sometimes, you can exhaust every avenue before realising this new job just isn’t for you. If you’ve come to that conclusion, don’t berate yourself – quitting something that’s not right is actually a brave move. But when you’re resigning, do make every effort to maintain your integrity and professionalism. Reviewing your decision with your boss in person, honouring your notice period and resisting the urge to badmouth the company will ensure you don’t burn bridges. And should you realise that maybe you’d like a second attempt at the job after you’ve submitted your resignation, don’t fret – there are ways to withdraw your resignation without damaging your relationship with the company.

A job that fails to live up to your job expectations can be disappointing, but it can actually help clarify your career path. If you decide to move on, think critically about the aspects of the role that didn’t work for you, as well as the kind of position you know you would thrive in, so you can make an informed decision when your next job offer arrives.

This article first appeared on the Worklife ANZ blog – “What to do when the job isn’t what you thought it would be…

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