When is too early to start looking for my next job?
March 22, 2011 1:13 PM   Subscribe

When is too early to start looking for my next job?

I moved to a new city where I had 0 connections and, through sheer luck, good self-promotion and great references, landed a great job with a regional leader in my industry in about a month.

I am...not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. The organization is in flux, my training for the position was approximately 1 hour on a Friday afternoon and I have zero direction from above. I get the occasional "good job on that thing" but otherwise...I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to be doing with my time. My predecessor either hid it VERY well that she had no work, or I am just really, really efficient and nobody knows they can really pile work on me.

It's a one year contract (maternity leave), and I don't have a safety net, financially. I am wondering when it would be okay to start looking for a new job. Given that job searches can take a long time and I have zero chance of sticking here (pressure is on less staff, not more...plus based on the cutthroat culture, I don't want to), is it okay to start moving now on trying to secure more permanent employment? My fear is that my employer will either find out, or I will get an interview next month and not get the job and have THAT hanging over my head the rest of my time here.

A couple of facts: I'm in Canada, I am not out of probation and I can't call on a huge social network for help, as I don't have the contacts here. Not to mention, this organization is connected to EVERYONE in my city, a bad reputation will be all I have.

What would you do, if you disliked your job and were a temporary employee with 11 months left at it?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would start looking for a better fit immediately, if not aggressively. I think employers are more likely to be understanding if you leave a temporary position for a permanent one, as long as you give required notice stated in your contract.

In the meantime, I would remind myself that it's early in the game, in the adjustment phase. If the company will be completing its transition soon, try to get your foot in the door for more responsibility with the new higher-ups. So, keep looking, but hang in there.
posted by shortyJBot at 1:18 PM on March 22, 2011

I would do exactly what you are thinking of doing...that is looking for the next position. You owe no loyalty to a bad employer.
posted by The1andonly at 1:18 PM on March 22, 2011

Start looking right now, for sure. Them's the breaks with temporary employees - of course they're going to jump just as soon as they land something more stable. Just make sure you're not mentally checking out of this job - you still need to show up to work and earn that reference.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:48 PM on March 22, 2011

It's never too soon to be looking for new opportunities. But you need to be discrete and careful not to let your current employer know what you're up to. Additionally, I think it's generally a black mark on a resume when I see a person has a pattern of not spending very long at any one job. I would ignore a once off, but it's not something you'd want to make a habit of.

That all said, you're in Canada. Make sure you read your contract. IANAL, Canada does not have 'at will' employment as most US states do. That means you cannot be fired without cause with 0 notice or pay in lieu of notice. On the other hand an employee probably cannot just quit on the spot (without good cause). This page has some useful info.

Lastly, it looks like you've only been in the job for a month and while first impressions are pretty important sometimes it pays to stick around a bit longer. Times when an organization is in flux can be unsettling and stressful, but they can also offer great opportunities to advance quickly and make a name for yourself.
posted by Long Way To Go at 1:51 PM on March 22, 2011

1 year contract for maternity leave? I'd try to make it into a good job. Who cares about cutthroat; you have a 1 year job with good pay. Make friends; these people will be great contacts. Talk to people at lunch, ask to help on projects, schmooze. You might work yourself out of a job by showing that the job doesn't need to be occupied, and then you can leave happily, maybe with unemployment comp.
posted by theora55 at 1:58 PM on March 22, 2011

If this place is really "a regional leader...connected to EVERYONE" in your city I would really try to make the best of the situation. If the main problem is not enough work start asking for more work, looking around and seeing if other people need help, etc... Since it's just a contract job, you'll obviously need to start looking for work at some point, and won't that be far more pleasant with some great references from Fancy Company?
posted by grapesaresour at 2:01 PM on March 22, 2011

Given that (i) you are on a one year contract and hence what's called a "temp worker," and (ii) finding a job generally takes time, you should start looking now. The fact that you don't like the job is completely irrelevant: you need to keep a roof over your head and food on the table once this contract runs out. What you also need to do is make sure that you do a good job where you are, that people there know (and acknowledge) it and that you leave on good terms. If this place is as well connected as you say it might / should be a gold mine of opportunity for future employment. Good luck!
posted by cool breeze at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2011

Nthing that there's no harm in looking. There's never harm in looking as long as you're not being blatant about it and it's not preventing you from getting your work done.

Also wanted to address this:

I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to be doing with my time. My predecessor either hid it VERY well that she had no work, or I am just really, really efficient and nobody knows they can really pile work on me.

In my experience, this is pretty common for the first few months of a job, and doubly so with your circumstances. The person who went on maternity leave likely farmed out a fair amount of what would have been your responsibilities to others before she left, worrying that somebody new wouldn't be able to handle them correctly. Keep doing everything you're assigned and don't sweat the down time too much. Employers love self-motivated people, so keep an eye out for new projects to tackle, but also make sure you don't step on any toes. If the down time is killing you, find some way to make time-killing look productive. At a previous job, I wrote some CSS that would make eBooks look like our bug tracking software. Re-read the entirety of Vonnegut's oeuvre while waiting for the work to come in.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:40 AM on March 23, 2011

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