My new job is, as they say, "not a good fit"
March 20, 2011 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I hate my new job. I need to find another before I quit. How do I minimize the negative impact on potential employers?

I was laid off from my previous job in the fall, then was hired for my new position in late January. It's not working out, to put it mildly.

I told my new boss during my interview that I like to be busy and she assured me there would be plenty for me to do. There isn't. I've tried asking for more work from her but not only was I made to feel presumptuous for asking, she still hasn't given me anything. I've also been explicitly told by her that I'm not allowed to volunteer to do stuff for other departments.

If I were allowed to do personal stuff... read, study, surf the internet... it might be bearable but those things are forbidden. I open the mail, answer an incredibly light volume of phone calls, and literally just sit the rest of the time. I also find my boss's style of communicating and managing me to be insulting and demeaning, and basically I just can't see this job working out over the long term.

I plan to contact an employment service I used during my job search and ask them to reactivate me. (I did not obtain my current job through them, so that won't be an issue.) Unfortunately, I can't quit this job until I find another, and because I'll only be available to interview in the evenings, potential employers are going to have to be aware that I am working. So I assume this means I will have to put my current position on my resume.

I am concerned that when employers see this two-month position at the top of my resume they are going to see that as some sort of red flag and screen me out of the running without even giving me a chance to interview.

Is there anything I can or should do to minimize this perception? I'm sure the recruiter at my service will advise me how to handle the issue for interviews she sets up, and presumably she will be able to do some damage control when she talks to them about me. But I also plan to send out resumes online, and wonder if I should say something in my cover letter? If so, what should I say?

I know not to badmouth my current employer in interviews, and will go with "not enough to do" as my reason for leaving when asked. I'm just wondering if there is some way to handle the issue beforehand so my resume doesn't wind up in the trash.

I am over forty and have plenty of job experience. I was at my most recent previous job for six years before I got laid off.
posted by sock puppy to Work & Money (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Based on my partner's experience, one short-term job after a long tenure somewhere else is not that big a deal. He had something similar, a job that was a very bad fit where he was miserable, and he started job-hunting very quickly. It didn't seem to hurt him. I think it would be different if your resume were a progression of short-term positions, but I think employers will understand that things just don't work out sometimes.

You can also organize your resume in some way other than chronological--by skills or accomplishments, for instance--so that this short-term job isn't the very first thing they see at the top. I don't think you need to say anything to explain why you're leaving unless you're asked; I certainly wouldn't volunteer anything in a cover letter.
posted by not that girl at 8:47 AM on March 20, 2011

If you've only been there two months, I'd leave it off your resume entirely. Especially if you're sending off resumes via email.

It would also not be incorrect to refer to your current work situation as "temporary work" if asked; it is absolutely temporary considering your intent to leave ASAP. After a layoff, a six-month lapse is not unusual at all.
posted by juniperesque at 8:55 AM on March 20, 2011

I am over forty and have plenty of job experience. I was at my most recent previous job for six years before I got laid off.

Well, then, I would keep that as your last job on your resume. As juniperesque says, the current job is now officially "something I'm just doing in the meantime."

The temp service could probably place you without an interview, actually. The problem is that you would then have to leave your current situation with no notice. Which might be okay, given that you are doing unskilled labor for someone you don't plan to use as a reference.

Maybe you could interview on lunch breaks?
posted by bingo at 10:58 AM on March 20, 2011

I think it's fine to leave the current job on your CV, because as you say it'll constrain your ability to interview. Personally as a hiring manager I understand that occasionally positions just don't work out, so I wouldn't fault you for one short-term job. As not that girl said above, it's patterns of job-hopping that will hurt you, not one short-term position. And you sound reasonable: I'm sure you'll be able to describe why you're looking without trash-talking your current employer.
posted by Susan PG at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2011

I took a job once and within days knew is wasn't for me. I stuck it out for six months (just to be sure) and quit once I found a new position. Since then I've always explained that period as having a job that wasn't the right fit. In fact, I'd always bring up the slow pace and relative lack of work as a negative and recruiters and HR people always seemed to be impressed that I didn't like this about the job.
posted by JohntheContrarian at 12:55 PM on March 20, 2011

Take sick time or say that you have a doctor's appointment in order to interview. If they lay you off, voila, you're on unemployment. Not ideal, but not the end of the world, ether.

This is a "temporary position". No need to put it on your resume.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:55 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

What matters is what work you can do, not how long you were at the last job. Your other job shows you can do good work and stay at one place for a long time. Saying you're currently employed is actually a plus on a resume. It's also OK to take sick/personal time to do interviews.

Not your question, but I doubt you'd get fired for doing more work or work-related training. It's unreasonable to expect you to stare at a wall waiting for a phone to ring. Provided you're doing your assigned work well and not bad-mouthing your boss to everyone else in the company, I think it's reasonable to insist on doing job-related studying when you have nothing else to do. First, send your boss some emails asking for more work (email = documentation for when your boss's boss gets involved). If you don't get more work, send another email stating that you will be doing job-related training when you are finished with your assigned work. Say what specifically you will do and how it helps the company. Then do that. Worst-case: you get fired. Most likely case: your boss yells at you, you meet with your boss's boss, and you end up getting a different boss and more work.
posted by sninctown at 1:30 PM on March 20, 2011

This happened to me a few years ago. I had a bad fit (actually a much less worse situation than what you are describing), and I stayed 5 months before getting a new job. I put the (then) current position on my resume, and just explained in interviews that I didn't feel challenged, and that the role was mostly processing paperwork alone all day and that was not a good fit for me. The next job I got is a corporate trainer type of gig, so "I don't want to sit in a room by myself and process paperwork" was a definite plus.

Like you, I had a solid previous work history. And as others here have stated, everybody gets that sometimes things don't work out. I think a lot of it has to do with why you want to get out. If your rap is that you thrive in a fast-paced environment with a lot of work to do, but you aren't getting that in your current role - that is obviously appealing.

I put the bad fit job on my resume because I moved cross-country a few months before and wanted to have something local on there. YMMV
posted by jeoc at 4:21 PM on March 20, 2011

Thanks for your help, everyone. I guess I will just put it on my resume and hope for understanding hiring managers. I feel better knowing that similar situations have gone well for some here.
posted by sock puppy at 7:41 PM on March 20, 2011

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