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The first day of any job feels like an exciting new venture — an opportunity to become a new you. That’s how I felt just two months ago. I had scored my dream job at a video tech company that was on the brink of breaking out in the market. I felt re-invigorated and anxious to start a new chapter in my life.

But a few weeks in, something started to stir within — a gut feeling that something was not quite right. My ideas for new strategic initiatives always took a back seat to more “urgent” priorities, conversations in another language (a language I don’t speak) were frequently held in my presence, and decision-making was constantly second guessed by leadership.

Ultimately, I felt ineffective and not set up for the success I had envisioned when I came on board. This was not the role I had agreed to. And it certainly wasn’t the role I was looking for.

Have you ever felt that the job you took might be the wrong job? If you’re teetering, these five signs may indicate it’s time to seriously re-evaluate your new job.

Did You Take the Wrong Job?

1. The Job Description Is Out of Sync with Reality You can tell a lot from just a company’s job description. It doesn’t just define the role’s responsibilities and expectations — the tone with which it’s written can also reveal the company’s culture (e.g., fast-paced, entrepreneurial, conservative, etc.). From Day 1, I was excited to carry out what had been outlined in my job description.

But what was on the page and communicated in interviews couldn’t have been more different than the day-to-day reality. If you were to TagCrowd my job description, “build,” “develop,” and “positioning” would be most prominent. But a cloud for the actual role would display “write,” “feedback,” and “execute.”

I was writing one-page product sheets instead of developing broader campaign programs, commenting on specific design elements on slides of a pitch deck versus collaborating on the story arc, and executing on directives rather than developing strategies. Granted, it’s common to wear many hats within a start-up and for positions to evolve organically. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the challenges that attracted me to the position would always take a back seat to tasks that didn’t interest me or align with my career goals.

If you mapped your daily activities to the bullet points in your job description, would they match nicely? If not, that’s sign #1.

2. You’re Not Empowered to Act I’ve found that a key element to any job is having the power to move whatever needle is at hand, whether it’s supporting aggressive growth goals, driving a strategic initiative, or launching a new product. The ability to make an impact on your team or department is crucial, even at the entry level. But doing so requires the right tools and the support of company leadership. Without them, you’re just going to be treading water.

I first realized I didn’t have the power to act when I was told that I wouldn’t be able to hire an additional resource for at least another nine months. And yet, during the interview process, I was promised that I could start building a team immediately.

Try this exercise: ask yourself what tools and/or resources do you need to achieve your short-term and long-term goals? Try listing your top five to ten requirements. Do your requirements match your reality? If not, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with your boss. 

3. You Spend More Time Debating Tactical Issues Instead of The Big Picture This is a simple one. Do you frequently find yourself asking, “Why are we talking about this?” Here’s a perfect example: I received an email from a C-level executive about how I should better order the bullet points in my email. If you’re frequently mired in irrelevant conversations, be proactive about re-directing the discussion back to the big picture. If this feels like a sustained trend versus a one-off annoyance, that’s a red flag.

4. You Aren’t Attending The Right Meetings Has this happened to you: A group of colleagues walks past your desk and into a meeting that should absolutely include you. This is exactly where I found myself just a couple of weeks into my new job. I was so mired in tactical tasks that I didn’t have the time — let alone the motivation — to participate in important, relevant meetings because it would take away time I could spend “getting shit done.”

If this sounds familiar, then I’m sorry to hear that. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel. As a first step, try establishing clearer boundaries/priorities with your manager regarding what you can and cannot take on, so you can better strike a balance between strategy and execution. But if you find yourself still avoiding meetings or not being invited to meetings because you’re caught in “doing,” tread lightly.

5. Your Gut Feeling Tells You So All outward signs aside, listen to what your heart is telling you. In the book Body of Work, author Pamela Slim uses a loathing scale to gauge a person’s inclination to leave a job. If you are having trouble articulating your gut feeling, this one-minute read will help you quickly identify where you stand.From there, it’s up to you to decide what to do (or not do) about your situation. Will you take steps to steer the ship back to your ideal job by working closely with your manager, or start looking for other thinking about other potential opportunities? Whatever you decide, it would be detrimental to ignore the signs what your gut is telling you. Own what you’re feeling and be compelled to act. You deserve to wake up in the morning and be excited to come to work.

No one likes to feel like they made a bad decision about something as important as your job. To prevent this from happening, do your due diligence during the interview process. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of challenging questions, and meet with as many people as you can until you have a 360° view of the company. But if you’re already in a situation where you are experiencing some of the signs above, proactive communication with your manager is key. Good managers will work with you to help turn things around.

But if all else fails, it may be time to move on and start planning your next move. In the end, you have to ask yourself: “Is this the job I really want?” Trust the answer your gut gives you. After all, it’s up to you to decide how this chapter ends.


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