What to do when a new job is a bad fit?
January 7, 2010 5:14 AM   Subscribe

I began a new job that came with new duties and the chance to work overseas. A few months in (before international transfer), I'm now feeling that position is a poor fit. What should I do?

In a nutshell, I accepted a job offer that gave me the chance to work overseas and get experience in an area I had not previously worked in: project/program management.

I've been here for a few months now, and I'm finding that the new job is not a good fit for my skills nor personality: my new duties are leaving me wholly unfulfilled. The company initiated the international transfer process recently, and I'm excited about the prospect of living and working overseas, but I'm wondering if I can do a job where I question the value of my own contribution.

I'm trying to make sure my discomfort isn't only due to adjusting to a new job and environment, since it's only been a few months. I get along fine with my group; it's just the function that I'm having problems with.

A part of me just says it suck it up and stick it out for a year: transfer overseas, continue in my role, and request transfer after a year or so. Another part of me thinks I should ask to switch to another group/function now, before the transfer. And the conservative part of me is wondering if I should go back to my old job/company...
posted by ohgeez to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Of course, you are the only person who can make the right decision for you. To help in the weighing of your options, I'd like to add that overseas experience is highly valued by some employers, and can open otherwise closed doors for you. If it were me, I'd listen to the part of you that says suck it up and stick it out for a year. You will gain a lot by experiencing other cultures, and you'll have tons of fun. I suspect it will add a lot to your current "unfulfilled" feeling.
posted by Houstonian at 5:25 AM on January 7, 2010

Stick it out. While it's good to follow your gut and do what you enjoy, it really can take a few months to feel at all comfortable in a new position. You may find that simply being in a new environment doing the same job does wonders for your outlook, even if the people are fine.

If you can hold out for a year, do so. If nothing else, it's opportunity in scarce times.
posted by Saydur at 5:45 AM on January 7, 2010

If you were staying in the country and didn't like your job, I'd suggest sticking it out for another month or so, but a year overseas is an opportunity that takes a lot more to secure, so I'd say that if your job performance is acceptable to your employers, stick it out for the year, if only for the experience of working overseas.

Maybe there's a way of molding the job into something you'd enjoy more as you're working in it?
posted by xingcat at 5:53 AM on January 7, 2010

Are you the kind of person who, if you aren't enjoying what you do, lets your work quality suffer?

Also, will it be easy to request a switch now/in a year?

I think that these are two questions that are important to ask yourself.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:55 AM on January 7, 2010

Also remember that overseas people will likely do things in different ways, so your current project management experiences may very well be different from what you're about to experience. Culture differences usually have a big influence on how you get people to do things, which is an important part of project management.
posted by DreamerFi at 6:24 AM on January 7, 2010

What you've discovered is that you don't like the job that you currently have. But unless your entire office and group of co-workers is being airlifted and set down intact in another city, you really don't know what you're in for yet. Plus, maybe you'll find another job, or company, over there that will be better suited for you.

I've done a lot of project management, and the nature of the job can change a lot depending on where you are and what you're doing.
posted by bingo at 7:43 AM on January 7, 2010

Response by poster: I appreciate the feedback, my sincerest gratitude to all of you who answered!

The questions posted by sciencegeek:

"Are you the kind of person who, if you aren't enjoying what you do, lets your work quality suffer?"

I believe my work would be of consistently high quality, but I'm uncertain that I'd outperform, if that makes any sense. For example, I believe I've done good work as far as my day-to-day duties are concerned, but I haven't made suggestions or taken initiative as much as I have in previous jobs. This may due to being in a new job function that I'm not as experienced in though. I believe my colleagues have been pleased with my output so far.

"Also, will it be easy to request a switch now/in a year?"

Yes, I believe switching teams would be very easy. I haven't been at this company very long, but my impression is that internal transfer requests are taken very seriously.

Regarding my feelings of unfulfilledness, I think it stems from my new job not being a "hands-on" role. In my past roles, I was very involved in coming up with solutions for business problems. Currently, I just push paper (status reports) seemingly for the sake of pushing paper. However, I guess I now have real experience in Program Management.

I do agree with most all of you that I should stay put, as it's only several more months to the one year mark where I can comfortably request a switch without burning too many bridges.

What would you all suggest if there was no international transfer coming up: somebody starts a new job and it's just not what the employee expected?
posted by ohgeez at 7:53 AM on January 7, 2010

Best answer: First, on being a PM. The satisfactions of being a PM are different than a solution analyst role. In being a PM there's a fair amount of budgeting, status updates and PMO standards work. However, the PM is the leader and person ultimately the most accountable. The PM is person who shapes the project working environment. He's responsible for who's on the team and handling low performers. He's the person who decides what to do when the solutions proposed need to scrapped. The PM is one of the few people who start with the problem and see it through to the solution. Other team members roll on and off the project; the PM is there start to finish. If your job has given you the idea that a PM basically writes status reports for a living, you're missing the point. You said you thought you "now have real experience in Program Management." No, you don't.

Second, on the job change. If you're not happy, then change roles or change companies. There are plenty of jobs with international options. Find one that you're more suited to do. Not everyone is going to find satisfaction in management roles (project or general management). Considering what you've said perhaps your career path is going to lead you to be the most senior resource in your area of technical expertise.
posted by 26.2 at 8:19 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since you are sure that you can make the switch if it doesn't work out and that you will be in the good graces of the company when you request the switch, I think it makes sense to continue with being a PM for a while.

Talk to other PMs about what their responsibilities are and where they've taken initiative - maybe you're missing something or perhaps you've been assigned an easy/dull project as part of your training process.

Good luck and I hope that the decision you make works well for you in the long run.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2010

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