I Hate My New Job

Last Updated Sep 8, 2010 7:14 AM EDT

Dear Evil HR Lady,
I recently accepted a job in an industry I had no interest in. I knew it would give me valuable experience and allow for me to start my career on a good note. I was only hoping to stay with this company for 1-2 years. After 1 month, I have already had enough. I am working from 8 AM to 7 PM and I have no work/life balance. There are days when I come home and cry. My boss gives me nothing but negative feedback and I feel as though I am failing. I am desperately trying to find a job in my dream field (HR or OD) but I am afraid that companies will have no interest in me since I just started this job. Due to this, I have a variety of questions:
1) What is the best approach to my job search given this situation?
2) Do I include this current position on my resume and applications?
3) How do I emphasize to employers out of state that I am willing to relocate? I never seem to get calls from them.
4) Did I screw myself for taking this job?
5) Am I feeling overwhelmed since this is my first full time job?

I'm sorry you had the misfortune of getting a bad boss with your first "real" job. Any boss that gives purely negative feedback should be sent back to individual contributor status. Unless, of course, the employee is so terrible that there is nothing nice to say at all. ("Ummm, Joe, I uh, like, uh, how you tie your shoelaces." See, you can find something positive for everyone!)

I'll tackle your questions one by one.

1) What is the best approach to my job search given this situation? You said you accepted a job in an industry you had no interest in. My question for you is, why did you apply for a job in this industry? You don't need to answer that, as I already know the answer: You wanted a job, the economy stinks, and you applied to every job you were remotely qualified for. This time, don't do that. Target your job search towards companies and jobs you really want. Yes, I know you want out of your current job as soon as possible, but a directed job search is almost always the way to go.
2) Do I include this current position on my resume and applications? Yes or no. Aren't I helpful? Since this is your first full time job, I assume you recently finished school. Hiring managers are bombarded with resumes from newly minted graduates and the fact that your resume shows you have been unemployed since graduation is not unusual, nor will it prevent you from getting a job. However, we all want things that other people have, and that includes wanting to hire people that other people have hired. It's always easier to get a job when you have a job. If you leave the job off your resume you're going to look unemployed. And if you look unemployed, when you get called for an interview it's going to be difficult to explain why you can't come in tomorrow. After all, it looks like you are sitting in your parents' basement eating Fritos. I would leave it on, personally.
3) How do I emphasize to employers out of state that I am willing to relocate? I never seem to get calls from them. You never get calls from them because they don't want to hire you. This is nothing against you personally, I assure you. It's just that there are thousands of entry level workers available who happen to live right in the city where the job vacancy is. Why would they want to go through the hassle of hiring someone from out of state? And yes, even if you pay your own relocation costs it is still a hassle--a start date further out, time off from the new job to handle all those things you have to handle when you move (driver's license, car registration, telephone, cable, internet set ups, etc.). Plus, employers know that people who move away from home with no support network are likely to be homesick. And a homesick employee is one that will be likely to leave. None of this helps you, of course. But tell them, in your cover letter, that you are very interested in moving to their city, could be there in X days after a firm offer, and are willing to pay your own relocation expenses. It probably still won't help all that much, but it couldn't hurt.
4) Did I screw myself for taking this job? Only if you let it. We all make mistakes in job hunting, especially the first time around. (Ask me about the time I told a hiring manager that the job, as she explained it, sounded really boring. Surprisingly, they did not offer me the job, which was just as well because it, well, sounded boring.) What you can't do is let it control your life and your future. This is what your mother called a learning experience and something that builds character. So, let it build your character, not destroy you.
5) Am I feeling overwhelmed since this is my first full time job? Perhaps. I wouldn't want a job that required 11 hour days. (Although, on occasion I have worked much longer days--once I put in a good 18 hours, but that was the exception, not the rule.) If I were you, I'd continue job hunting, but I'd also make every effort to salvage this job. Sit down with your boss and say, "This wasn't quite what I was expecting. I wasn't aware that I would need to work so many hours. In addition, I feel like I'm not understanding the expectations of the job because I think I'm doing things correctly, but the feedback I get is negative. What can I do to make myself more effective at this job?" Note that you are asking what "you can do," not asking him to stop being such a jerk. Ask your co-workers for guidance. And while you're at it, take a look at your co-workers. Is their feedback always negative? If so, your boss is just a jerk. If not, you're probably doing something wrong. Ask for clarification. Don't assume you know what you are doing. You're new on the job and new to the world of work.

As you know, it's generally better to stay in a job for at least a year or two, but if you find a new job feel free to leave. Until that point, try your hardest to come to an understanding with your boss about what expectations are. He may be surprised to find out you feel so overwhelmed.
Photo by Snapshot19, Flickr cc 2.0

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