When Your Dream Job Turns Out To Be A Nightmare

For many people, landing that dream job is the culmination of several years of studying, followed by a relentless stream of applications, interviews and rejections.

Finding the perfect position takes patience and determination. Nothing beats the feeling of getting that phone call telling you that, out of possibly hundreds of candidates, you’re the one.

After the celebrations, preparations and wardrobe deliberations, you’re ready to start your new career. But, what if the reality feels more 25 to life than 9 to 5?

There are many reasons that a new job can fail to live up to expectations.  It can be dispiriting to dislike a job when you’ve worked so hard to get there. Before you throw in the towel, see if you can tackle the issue and turn things around.

Unfriendly colleagues

You may walk through the door that first day eager to meet your new colleagues but, sadly, it doesn’t always turn out that way.

Your new colleagues may be indifferent that you are there. Maybe, the turnover is high so they are used to new faces coming and going. Perhaps they are so busy in their roles, they don’t have the time of day. Maybe, they are just shy. Or maybe, you need to give it time.

It’s difficult entering a new workplace where friendships are already firmly formed. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of effort to get your colleagues to know you. Offer to make tea, ask to be shown around the office or schedule time with colleagues to discuss their roles.


If you feel a colleague is going out of their way to hurt you, this is bullying. Bullying in the workplace has been in the news a great deal recently as employers and the government work to tackle the issue.  From a manager ignoring your work to a colleague or boss actively picking on you, bullying  takes many forms.

As a first step, try talking to the individual involved – request a time when you can speak privately and then calmly, and professionally.

In many instances, when called out, the individual will stop this line of behaviour but, if this is not the case, make an appointment to speak with HR who will advise you on your available courses of action.

If bullying occurs, keep a detailed diary of dates, times and what was done / said – although this may sound a bit much, this information will be essential if the matter is escalated.

A hard nut to crack

Despite the fact that you’ve read more on the subject than anybody else in the company, you may find that the actual work itself is more difficult than you expected.

Although it’s natural to have an immediate ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this’ moment, there’s no need to panic.  Make a list of the specific areas or tasks that you’re having trouble with and then ask your Manager or help with tackling them.

Your manager will be aware that you’re new and should be happy to guide you through any difficulties. We’re always hearing about people ‘hitting the ground running’ when starting a new job but in reality, taking the time to ensure you’ve thoroughly grasped tasks makes you a more effective employee.

As long as you’re willing to learn, your colleagues and superiors will be happy to teach.

 A rave review – or not

Most companies use performance reviews as a way of assessing how you’ve been doing and what you can do to improve.  For the most part, your review should be a combination of telling you what you’ve done well and highlighting the areas where you could use a little work.

It should be a fair representation of your performance over the period which you will then be asked to agree and sign

So what if you don’t agree with the review?

If the negative comments are unexpected or harsh, it’s natural to feel upset and defensive. Reacting this way will come across as unprofessional and even childish. 

Take a deep breath and ask for a little more detail on why your manager feels you under-performed.

Ask your manager for some time to improve on your work before your next review.  Schedule more frequent meetings with your manager from now assessing whether they think you’ve improved.

It’s disappointing to discover that your fabulous new job isn’t what you’d hoped for. However, with determination and good communication, you can get it back on track and show them how good you really are.

Inspiring Interns is a recruitment agency specialising in all the internships and graduate jobs London has to offer.