A reader writes:
First I would just like to say I am a frequent visitor of your blog and have gleaned a lot of helpful information from it, so thank you. Secondly, I was wondering if you could provide some insight about the appropriate amount of time to stay at a job you dislike. I’ve been at my job for six months now and really do not like it. My manager and co-workers I interviewed with did not misrepresent the position in any way, I just feel like it is not a good match. I also have not received any negative feedback and had a pretty good 90-day review. However, despite all this, I feel very uncomfortable in my position. The majority of the clients I have to deal with are very demanding and difficult to manage. I feel, however, that you should give a job at least a year before moving on. In fact, I have a nine-month internship on my resume and I’m always asked in interviews why I was there for such a short period of time until I explain it was an internship that ended. Because I receive that question so often, I don’t want to add another “black mark” to my resume, so to speak. Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated.
I have two suggestions:
1. Have you talked to your manager about the things you’re not feeling comfortable with? He or she might be able to help. Frequently when people are unhappy with some aspect of their job, they suffer silently rather than speaking up. Not every problem is surmountable, of course, but quite a few are, and even if you’re convinced it’s not worth raising, you might be surprised if you give it a shot. Of course, it’s also possible that there might be nothing he/she can do — because it truly is just a mismatch, or because the manager isn’t particularly adept in such situations, or whatever. Which leads us to…
2. I’d wait three months before you start looking for another position. Your job search is going to take some time, so if you start when you’ve been in your present job nine months, you’ll likely have been there a year (if not longer) by the time you leave for something else. Three months isn’t all that long to stick it out before you start looking, and it’ll position you better to have the full year-long stay to point to.
But really, if your manager is even the tiniest bit approachable and competent, talk to her about the discomfort you’re having. Good luck!