What to do if you hate your job after 3 months

Getting into the routine of a new job takes time, but what happens if you hit the three-month mark and still feel like this is not for you? Do you toughen it out and see if it gets better, or should you leave now before it gets worse?

Identify if the problem comes from within… 

You sold yourself very well during the interview, but now realise you are under-qualified.

Well, maybe you feel like this, but you have to trust that the person who hired you didn’t do it without giving it some thought.  You were up against other people, many of who might have also slipped in a few white lies in their resumes, and you won.

This does not mean that you were the most convincing, but that the people who hired you (i.e. very competent employers that would otherwise not be in their position), have enough experience and knowledge to know you can do the job.

At the end of the day the best way to learn to swim is to be thrown into deep water –  take a risk and be confident in your abilities (or confident that you can fake it till you make it)!

You miss aspects of your old work and you can’t stop comparing it to this one.

The truth is, you don’t miss the old job as much as you miss the feeling of belonging. A new place comes with a new set of rules and nobody likes to be the newbie: it’s frustrating, scary, and makes you feel dumb.

Try to go out of your way to socialize with colleagues, do your best to learn the unspoken office rules and don’t panic if it doesn’t go smoothly for the first few weeks – you have to keep reminding yourself that this is normal, and everybody has been through it.

You keep on making mistakes.  
You may be great for the job, but somehow you find yourself making continual mistakes that, in your eyes, will burn the company to the ground.

Breath. To err is human. You are new to the job and everybody has been, at one point. The higher ups are not going to thrust a  task upon you that, were it to go wrong, could really affect the company. You just stared, so mess-ups are allowed.

If you don’t understand something, no matter how dumb the question may be, just ask it.  Try to get to know your co-workers better and above all, cut yourself some slack.

Or from the outside

You can’t make friends with your co-workers. Or you don’t want to.

If you don’t get along with your co-workers, that’s fair enough; you’re not there to make friends.  But being on good terms with everybody will definitely make things easier:  acknowledge efforts with a quick email or compliment, make sure you  prioritize your time and don’t reschedule meetings at the last minute, always offer support and always try to listen and be present.

You don’t understand the office layout or the social dynamics or just how the whole thing operates.

A good solution is to be patient, observe and imitate.  You have to adjust your style to that of the new workplace; how do your co-workers talk to each other/ with their clients? How do they interact with your manager? Make an effort to attend social hours and slowly adapt to this new pace.


It wasn’t what you expected

So the job description was great, the interview process was smooth and the picture you painted in your head was damn near perfect.

And then the first day arrives and you realise “damn, this is not at all what I thought it would be like”.

The first two obvious steps are to remain calm and give it a chance – starting out an adjusting to a new routine is always difficult, and your bosses have to get to know you/ trust you before they feel comfortable giving you new responsibilities. However, if after three months nothing has changed, it’s time to have a chat with your boss.


Speaking to your boss

Yes, this is a scary prospect for some, but remember that at the end of the day the only person responsible for your career is you.
Before you ask for the “meeting”, prepare yourself with some supporting materials: make a list of your accomplishments, your contributions to the company, and what you hope to get out of your role (and how this will benefit those who you are working for).

Next up is the actual meeting. Approach it with objectivity, and start by stating the purpose clearly: “I’d like to talk about what the next step in my career looks like. I’d really like it to be with this organization, but the next steps here aren’t completely clear to me.”

Make it clear that you are enthusiastic to be working with them (this is not a lie; hopefully you took the job because you were genuinely enthusiastic), but reiterate that you would like to be given a chance to progress forward.

Your manager’s reaction to this is crucial – their reaction will indicate whether they are supportive of your choice and will try to help you (in which case you can consider “sticking it out” at your workplace for longer), or, if they are reserved, perhaps it is time to start working on that resignation.

 speaking to boss

Exploring your options

Although three months is a long time, if you turned down another offers before getting this job there may still be time to salvage them. Write back to the hiring manager and explain that after a lot of thought and consideration, you are very interested in the position, if it’s still available.

If they do ask you to come back for an interview, you will probably be hit with the question: “why id you quit your previous job?” in which case a good answer is simply:

“Unfortunately, I didn’t take as much time as I should have to learn everything I could about the company and culture before accepting my current position. I’ve since realized that this role isn’t a good fit for me, and am now seeking opportunities with organizations that value employee engagement and collaboration. That’s why I’m so excited to be interviewing with [insert company name].”

And if that position is no longer available, or if you’ve exhausted all other options are really at the brink of a meltdown, then start to look for other jobs but remember never to make rash decisions just because you are frustrated.

Be realistic, really research the new job your applying for and never, ever leave your workplace on a bad note!

Xiomara Meyer is a drama and creative writing graduate with an interest in psychology and the slightly bizarre. She is part of Hitting Heads Productions.

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