A reader writes:
I am in the process of interviewing and applying for other jobs. I started my current job a year ago and aside from it just not being the right fit for me, the culture is absolutely toxic and it is very difficult to not let it get to me–my boss trashes me to my colleagues and has turned upper management against me, another department director (boss’s friend) lied about me in a public way that has harmed my reputation, and there is tremendous pressure to work around the clock (even on weekends), family and personal life be damned.
I am reading your How to Get a Job e-book to prepare for my interviews (it’s really helpful) and in a few parts you talk about making sure the job is the right fit for the job-searcher. I definitely want to find a place that is the right fit for me, but I need to get out of this job as soon as I can because it is causing stress in all aspects of my life. What do you say about taking the first job that gives an offer, even if it may not be the best fit?
Well, you can and I totally get why you’d want to, but you should balance it against these factors:
* If you’re not screening jobs thoroughly to ensure they’re the right fit for you, you could end up in another situation that’s just as bad as the one you were fleeing, or even worse. Knowing how unhappy you are now, do you really want to risk repeating that at the next place?
* If you do end up in the wrong place again and want to leave again fairly quickly (and the one year at your current job does count as leaving quickly), you’ll now have a pattern that makes you look like a job hopper. You basically get one freebie on leaving quickly — which means that you really need to make sure that the next place is somewhere you’re willing to stay long-term.
* Not screening jobs well doesn’t just mean that you might end up in a job where you’ll be unhappy. It also means you could end up in a job that you’re not good at and get fired from. Then you’re unemployed, with a firing to explain, and an unhelpful reference from your most recent employer. That’s inflicting a lot of damage on yourself just to get out of bad job a little more quickly.
All that said, there are times when despite the above, it could still be the right choice to jump at the first job that comes along. But those situations are really, really rare — like where you’ll be out on the street if you don’t take the job, or your health is in danger at your current job and you need to keep affordable health insurance by staying employed. Ideally it’s not just “this place sucks and I hate it,” as compelling as that can feel. I think your situation falls closer to the latter category, although I can’t say for sure without knowing more.
By the way, sometimes when this topic comes up, people get frustrated that they have to cater to employer perceptions — “why shouldn’t I be able to job hop if it’s what’s best for me?” and so forth. But the point here is to understand how to get the best outcomes for yourself and the greatest chances of long-term happiness. Employer perceptions are certainly part of it, because those are part of the reality of earning a living — but ultimately all of this stuff is just about understanding trade-offs and realities, and acting in a way that’s aligned with the things that are most important to you in the long-term.