Friday, November 17th, 2017

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Nobody Majors in Unemployment: In the Wrong Job? Find Out & Find a Better One

This article is part of our 52 week journey through Bill’s latest book, The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money. Each week, a full excerpt from his book will be presented from beginning to end. To find out more about his book, visit www.TheGraduatesGuide.com.

Last week we looked at several more job search options and discussed some of the steps necessary as you begin to apply for jobs. This week we will look at what to do if you find yourself in the wrong job and what not to do when you look for your next job.

What do you do if you find yourself in the wrong job? You accepted the job offer because it seemed perfect. You were told, “You only have to work 40 hours and can come in to work late if you want. It’s a pleasant atmosphere and a family-friendly work environment.” Then you actually get there. Suddenly, you find yourself working late every evening, maybe even weekends. Your boss is constantly watching over your shoulder and teamwork ends up meaning you get to do the work for the whole team. You can’t stand the thought of staying there for another minute, but you can’t afford to quit. Now what?

Look for another job. It really is that simple. No law says you have to stay with your employer just because they hired you (unless you signed a contract—in which case you will have to negotiate your release with at least a neutral letter of recommendation). Believe me, if the situation was reversed and the company was having problems, they would not hesitate to cut your position. In fact, if you are the newest hire, you may be the first to go.


Most of our business society is based on “employment-at-will.” This means your employer can come to you at any point and say, “I’m sorry, but you are just not working out here,” and fire you. On the other side, you have the right to say to your employer at any time, “I’m sorry, but you are not working out,” and quit. Okay, don’t do it quite like that. You do not want to burn any bridges. You never know when you may need that manager as a reference or as part of your networking later in your career, especially if you stay in the same industry. In fact, you may end up wanting to work for that company again later (which is why you should always give two weeks notice). Also, make sure you have another job before quitting so your landlord doesn’t tell you to move out.

Don’t be too disappointed if your first job does not work out. Your resume may still be posted online, which means all you have to do is make updates, showing your current employment. Start researching new companies, or even contact ones you had previously applied to. In a few short months, things may have changed. Don’t take it personally if you were not the first choice for a job, but the company now wants you. If you are offered the job you want, take it. Prove to them they were mistaken for not choosing you initially, and make them so glad they finally did.

You may be wondering how it is going to make you look if you only held your job for a few months. Don’t worry about it. A good employer will look past the fact that your first ever post-graduate job did not work out. The key is to be able to explain your reasons behind leaving the job.

The most important thing is to not badmouth your present employer. Emphasize the positive points of your present employer, but focus on what makes the company that is interviewing you unique.


If you find yourself in a bad job, you really should try to stay in it for six months, to gain some marketable experience. If six months is not doable, try to gut it out for three months so it looks like you gave it a shot. Of course, I realize some jobs are just so horrible even three months seems like an eternity. I once had a job so bad I began searching for a new one after just six weeks. I was able to find another job in less than a month.

If you start to find you are jumping from job to job every couple of months, you may need to reconsider your career choice. Perhaps sitting behind a desk all day just isn’t what you are cut out to do. Maybe working with children causes more headaches than you first imagined. Sometimes it’s impossible to predict how well you will be able to fit with your career choice.

To find a better fit for your personality, you have several choices. As mentioned before, there are personality tests available to help you find the type of job that might fit your personality. You can also go to www.projectcareer.com and take an online personality test that should help you select a career path based on your interests. In some instances, you may find a career counselor may be worth the cost.

Another option is just to search the Internet. You may be surprised to find the amount of information about what to expect in certain professions. Sometimes you can find discussion boards geared towards specific professions. Browsing these forums or even posting your own questions could give you a better idea of what to expect as you begin your new career. Don’t be surprised if your interests change over time. As humans, we are constantly changing. Just call it part of growing up.

Action Step

Your first assignment is as follows:
1) Network,
2) Call a placement agency, and
3) Contact companies that interest you. If you want to earn a little extra credit (and this will only benefit you), begin a journal of companies you want to work for or visit three career sites and write down some information about 10 jobs or more that interest you.

"Nobody Majors in Unemployment" Summary

  • Finding a job takes time and requires some work.
  • Focus on a career, not just a job.
  • Create a fact sheet about each potential employer.
  • Use friends, family, former roommates, etc. to network.
  • You can look for a new job, even after you begin your first job.

Next week you’ll discover the one document that is more important than your resume and how to create it.

Bill Pratt is a former credit card executive turned student-advocate. He is the author of Extra Credit: The 7 Things Every College Student Needs to Know About Credit Debt & Ca$h and The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money. Bill speaks at colleges to educate and entertain students about real-life issues in money, leadership and success. His goal is to help students succeed personally and financially so they can improve the lives of those around them. You can learn more at www.ExtraCreditBook.comor www.TheGraduatesGuide.com.

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