I really hate it here
July 10, 2019 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Was just placed in a temp-to-hire job via a staffing agency. Three days in and I know this is not the job for me. How do I handle this without burning a bridge (if that is even possible)?

I was working in a fixed term contract accounting position at a hotel from April through last week. I really loved it there and if there had been a way for that job to go permanent I would have taken it in a heartbeat. Alas, that was never in the cards - I was there just to assist during a departmental reorganization, and I was applying for permanent positions simultaneously.

I had some interest from a couple of staffing/recruiting companies who brought me in for interviews to evaluate me as a potential candidate for roles they are comissioned to fill by clients. One recruiter had an accounting opportunity open up for me very quickly at an advertising agency - they submitted me as a direct hire candidate, I interviewed with the agency, received excellent feedback, and then was offered the job... as a temp to hire position. Even though I'd gone into the interview being told it was direct hire.

So I was already feeling pretty irked by this, but I need a job, so I say yes, but I told the recruiter that I wasn't going to put my job search on hold for a temp to hire job, because of course there's no guarantee I'd be hired. The recruiter was understanding, but assured me that he thinks that the ad agency will want to convert me to perm asap as I really impressed them in the interview. Ok fine.

Cut to now - I am three days into this job and I just know right away that this is not the job for me. Advertising is a new industry for me (the bulk of my career has been in hospitality) and I just... don't like it. The work isn't interesting to me, the company itself is really disorganized, and I really don't like the culture of the place. I just don't feel comfortable here. I don't want to stay, it will be a waste of everyone's time - mine, the agency, and the recruiter. This is not the right fit for me. I have been working long enough and know myself well enough that I know this is not the job for me. I don't want to be here.

I miss hospitality, I miss the hotel, I wish I hadn't left, I wish I'd stuck it out there till August 31 like originally planned. The manager there is a friend of mine and might let me come back but I'm not sure. I really would like to just land a permanent hotel accounting position and I just got a call from another recruiter who might have such a job for me. She wants to meet with me tomorrow morning. It's still my first week of work at the ad agency.

What do I do? I don't know how to handle this. I don't want to burn bridges with the recruiter who placed me at the ad agency, but I did tell him that I wasn't going to put my job hunt on hold for a temp job, which this ad agency job technically is. (And honestly I'm still annoyed that I went into the interview for the position being told it was direct hire only to find out at the offer stage that they were changing the terms; I think that was crummy.)

Do I call the recruiter who placed me at the ad agency and tell him I have an interview scheduled with a hospitality recruiter tomorrow morning and so need to take a couple of hours off work in the morning? Even though it's my first week here? Explaining that like I said, I can't put my job search on hold for a temp job even if it may go perm?

Or do I need to be even more honest - do I need to call the recruiter who placed me here and tell him that I don't think this company or industry is a good fit for me? Will that piss him off? Will it burn a bridge with the staffing company he works for?

Alongside this, my partner, who has been very supportive of me in my job search will not be happy if I don't at least try to stick this current job out until I find something else - a POV I totally understand from a financial perspective. But... I really, really hate it here. I don't want to work here. I know that for a fact. This is not the right cultural fit for me.

What do I do? Please help me figure out my options. Would especially like to hear from people who have worked for recruiting/staffing companies about specifically what I should tell the recruiter who placed me here. I assume that knowing it's a bad fit is good info so as not to waste everyone's time but I just don't want to end up blacklisted from that recruiting company. Is that unavoidable?

Help please. I suffer from anxiety and PTSD, which I only mention because I am completely paralyzed as to how to proceed here and am trying to stave off panic. I have recently begun EMDR therapy for anxiety but the going is slow and I don't know what to do in this situation RIGHT NOW and my next therapy appointment isn't till Saturday.

Please, please help me. I don't see a way out of this without burning a bridge or pissing off my partner but I don't know what to do. Please help.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You have valuable skills and you get to choose where you use them. Call the agency tell them you don't like it, do not expect to accept a permanent position if offered, and tell them you'll give the agency 2 weeks notice.
posted by theora55 at 10:45 AM on July 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

I really would like to just land a permanent hotel accounting position and I just got a call from another recruiter who might have such a job for me. She wants to meet with me tomorrow morning.

Tell whoever you need to tell at your current job that you have a tooth issue that needs to be looked at ASAP by your dentist. Then meet with this recruiter. However, you know your worth and what you are looking for so be very clear with them. You want a permanent hotel accounting position. Give them no more than 1 hour of your time.

Until you have something solid to turn to, there's no reason to burn any bridges yet. Keep your eye on the prize and that includes how you are working at your current position. You don't need to tell your current staffing agency all your hopes and dreams you just need to know what it is that you want and then when the time is right, press for it.

my partner, who has been very supportive of me in my job search will not be happy if I don't at least try to stick this current job out until I find something else

I'm sorry, this is added stress. You just don't even really need to tell your partner all that is going on. You just need to decide for yourself what you need and want for your next career steps and then push to make those things happen.

My sympathies. I hated temping years ago when I did it. You are always thrown into strange environments and people treat you weirdly. Advertising is a weird subculture unto itself and no one is going to be very nice or caring to a temp, sadly. I also hated the dangling constantly of full-time benefited work which I know has worked for some but never did for me.

So, go to your meeting. See what happens. Take a day to get your bearings and then talk to your existing recruiter on Friday and say, you know, I can already tell that I am looking for a different environment. Please find me something in hospitality, I'll be keeping my eyes open and talking with my network as well. Then try to stick it out and figure out what you can do at the job to maintain your sanity and maybe learn some new things as well. You have to let most of what happens in a temp environment just roll off your back because it's temporary and these relationships are unlikely to stick.
posted by amanda at 11:12 AM on July 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

Agreed. Your anxiety will be telling you that you will diiiiieeeeeee if you have to work there one more day, but absent any really terrible stuff (harassment for example) just give notice and work a few more weeks so you give appropriate notice and then bail. The recruiter will want to place someone at the job who likes it and wants to stay and you are not that person but you didn't know until you tried it.

Tell the recruiter that you really want to hold out for either

- a direct hire position (which you thought this was), or
- a hospitality position (which you'll be interviewing for)

and that is where you want to put your talents. They either made a mistake or misled you about this current situation, so it's okay to push back a little and say "I have a skillset that is better suited elsewhere"
posted by jessamyn at 11:14 AM on July 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Do I call the recruiter who placed me at the ad agency and tell him I have an interview scheduled with a hospitality recruiter tomorrow morning and so need to take a couple of hours off work in the morning?

Who manages your time, the recruiter or the employer? If the recruiter, then yes, tell him you won't be able to clock in at the ad agency until X o'clock tomorrow. That is unless you are under contract with him and barred from working with other recruiters. You do not need to tell him why you will be late to work, but it should come as no surprise to him if you tell him matter-of-factly that it's an interview for a permanent hospitality accounting position.

If the employer, then the worst they can do is say "if you do that, we can't keep you on." Which you are ok with.

Try to get over your miffed feelings about the agency and the recruiter. Everyone is doing what they can to get the best deal - agency gets to kick your tires before buying, recruiter gets to pocket a commission, and you get to find the best job for yourself. None of it is personal.

Don't quit the agency (your partner's perspective is 100% valid and you've already decided not to go perm with it so it's a placeholder that pays you) and don't go back to your hotel (you quit for reasons that presumably still exist). Bring your A-game to tomorrow's interview, keep looking for other opportunities, and bring your A-game to those interviews too.
posted by headnsouth at 11:17 AM on July 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Don't put in notice now. They will pull you out ASAP. The company won't want to train someone who is leaving, and the temp company knows it won't be getting its commission until they find the company a permanent employee.

Do tell the temp company you aren't sure it's working out. Ask them to please find you something in the hospitality industry. Ask if they could place you back with your old job while you and they continue to look for a permanent job.

Do not quit a paying job against your partner's wishes and expect them to financially support you. Do your best to keep a day job as you navigate to one that is the right fit.
posted by salvia at 11:24 AM on July 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

Do not quit a paying job...

Never quit a paying job until you have somewhere else to go, unless they are actively mistreating you (harassment, etc.). In that case, "document, document, document", give notice and leave.
posted by jkaczor at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2019

I don't know the specifics of temping and agencies in your locality, so will leave you to others' advice on exactly what to say and when to quit etc., but just in the hope it eases your anxiety a little -

It's not in the agency's interests to keep you in this position if it's a bad fit, and they'll know that. When they place someone who gets made permanent, they'll probably get an extra payment once that person stays for eg. 3 months, so they'd rather pull you out now than have you take the job and quit in a month or two. That's part of the very reason for temp to perm, rather than going straight to permanent - so both sides can be more sure of a good fit long term before anyone signs a permanent contract. So although it might feel awkward, you're doing the agency (and probably the employer) a favour by letting them know it's not a good fit, rather than feeling obliged to just sit in the job.
posted by penguin pie at 12:51 PM on July 10, 2019

I'm in NYC, if that matters.
posted by thereemix at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2019

I just got an email from the company that placed me here asking to confirm phone numbers for my references as they are preparing for this position to go perm ALREADY. This is like a slow motion nightmare. I need to tell them this is a bad fit, like, NOW, right? Phone call or email?
posted by thereemix at 2:01 PM on July 10, 2019

I need to tell them this is a bad fit, like, NOW, right?

No. Take a day or two and call them when you're ready. Every day you spend there adds credibility to your judgement call that you don't think it's a good fit. The recruiter doesn't want to put a lot of work into a person who is just going to dismiss a company out of hand, but they will understand that sometimes things don't work out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

As for tomorrow, it's no one's business but yours what you'll be doing. It's traditional to make something up (a toothache as suggested above is good), but in your shoes I would just minimize the disruption to my current job while interviewing for a new one.

Aside: The temp-->permanent in three days thing speaks to me of a position that has had a few tryouts before you arrived. You may not be the only person with a bad feeling about the environment. In fact you may not be the first temp from your agency to fill this spot.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:16 PM on July 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

People have started to believe employers have all the power, but you have every right and reason to treat any employer the way they would treat you, and they will treat you as disposable in a heartbeat. Do good work, be fair, but put your needs first. I'm sorry you are so anxious; you deserve so much more.
posted by theora55 at 2:48 PM on July 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Breathe. It's your anxiety that's telling you it's a slow motion nightmare, and you're catastrophising right now. Hugs - it's an awful feeling - if there's anything you know that's good at knocking you out of an anxiety spiral - exercise, medication, a conversation with a particular friend - now is the time to do it. It's not a nightmare. For the agency, it's just another day at the office. This is what they do all the time and you'll be far from the first person they've dealt with in this position.

You don't need to reply to their email at all right away. Go see the other recruiter tomorrow (citing toothache or an ambiguous medical appointment to your line manager) and see how you feel once you have more idea what this potential other position is, what the likelihood is of it coming off. Even then, frankly, I'd be tempted to tell the agency that you need more than three days in the job to decide if you're ready to go permanent there, and if they insist on clinching the deal after only three days, tell them you're not ready to make that decision yet. There, you've got a graceful out from taking that job, without slating the workplace - you're a conscientious person who likes to be sure in your decisions rather than rushing into them, and if the company insists on rushing, no problem, you'll let them look at other people.

If I read this right, you've only been at this job hunting about a week, and you've already been offered one temp-to-perm position and have a recruiter following you up about another? There will be other jobs. The world won't end if you tell your agency you don't want this job.
posted by penguin pie at 2:59 PM on July 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Temp to permanent works on both ends. It’s a trial for them to see if it’s a good fit, but it’s also a trial for you to see if it is a good fit. Create a schedule for yourself: tomorrow I interview, I will respond to email tomorrow afternoon, Friday I will let my recruiter know, Saturday I go to therapy, Sunday I will take a mental vacation from it, Monday I will let them know it is not a good fit. This schedule is made up, of course, but I find breaking down the steps helps relieve the pressure.
posted by MountainDaisy at 3:10 PM on July 10, 2019

Reiterating that temp-to-perm works both ways, even if the agency or the client tries to pretend you're assumed to be willing to take the job if offered. The client is under no obligation to offer you the job (that's the reason for temp-to-perm) so you're under no more obligation to accept it if offered.

I once had an agency set me up with an interview, whereupon the agency manager asked, pointedly, "If we get you this interview and they offer you the job, are you prepared to take it?" (which is of course, the same deal, it's a two-way interview). I asked her, right back whether she asked the same promise of her client. She harumphed back to her office; I got the interview.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 6:29 AM on July 11, 2019

Well I ended up talking with the staffing agency today - the issue got forced because two of my references reached out to me saying that they had received a call regarding my being converted to perm at this job, and I felt it was responsible for me to pump the brakes.

The staffing agency did not take it well. They said they respected my decision and were appreciative of my honesty, but the rep seemed quite angry that I was saying the fit was bad after only 4 days. He demanded to know in detail how I could know, and I just kept repeating that I didn't think advertising is the right cultural fit for me, I didn't see a future for myself here, no one did anything wrong, it's just too much of a change from the hospitality industry and I don't feel comfortable in this environment and didn't think it would be doing anyone (the staffing company the ad agency, me) any favors to waste more time training me when I don't want to stay. They should find someone who really wants to be HERE. That person isn't me, but I couldn't have known that without trying. And hence the temp-to-hire arrangement is working as it should, right?

Based on this conversation I am pretty sure I have burned a bridge with this staffing company, which is a bit upsetting for me. The level of vitriol in the voice of the rep I was speaking with was pretty disarming and I'm fairly certain they are going to throw my resume in the bin and never submit me as a candidate for any other job. Maybe I'm mistaken in that, but it's hard to say. This guy was Big Mad at me.

My interview with the hospitality recruiter went well this morning. She is going to submit me as a candidate for two potential hotel accounting jobs and will follow up with me on Monday.

The hotel where I was working before as a fixed term contractor still has the budget to pay me till August 31 and says they are happy to take me back till then.

I am relieved, but a bit sad that I made the rep at the staffing agency so angry. I was just trying to do the right thing. Did I mess this up somehow?

Thank you all for your help and kind words so far.
posted by thereemix at 11:26 AM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

You didn’t do anything wrong, he was a dick. In fact, it sounds like you’ve played it perfectly - you’ve dodged the bullet of getting stuck in a job you didn’t like. You have two new leads which sound like they’ll be more up your alley. You’ve fixed up several weeks more temporary work you know you’ll enjoy while you job hunt (and presumably with people who know you’re searching so you can take off for interviews). And you’ve still only been at this less than two weeks - it honestly sounds like a superlative job hunt!

The only slight minuses are getting shouted at by a dick today (not your fault) and possibly (though not definitely) having burned your bridges with one agency who don’t sound all that great in the first place. Neither of which matter too much for your job search or your life by the sound of it.

It’s all working out perfectly, well done!
posted by penguin pie at 11:54 AM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am relieved, but a bit sad that I made the rep at the staffing agency so angry. I was just trying to do the right thing. Did I mess this up somehow?

I wouldn't say you messed up, but by trying to explain yourself and justify your choice to him, you gave him far more power than he deserved in this situation - and he took advantage of your uncertainty and badgered you about it.

the rep seemed quite angry

That's unprofessional.

He demanded to know in detail

You don't have to give in to any such demand. And you don't ever have to tell anyone your personal feelings about a place or its culture or your fit or anything subjective. The only time that would serve a useful purpose is if the organization was trying to make changes. Otherwise, the only thing a staffing agency needs to hear is "I am looking for a permanent hospitality accounting position."

If this guy cared about making quality placements that are good fits for either the company or the candidate, he would have limited his search for you to hospitality accounting positions! Even if you haven't burned a bridge, he has. Good riddance.
posted by headnsouth at 12:24 PM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

You did fine. A charitable interpretation would be that the recruiter was trying to make sure there weren't any red flags at the job they'd need to look out for but a more realistic appraisal is that they're just a jerk and were badgering you because they were annoyed and frustrated at a situation that was, let's be honest, partially their fault.

I felt it was responsible for me to pump the brakes.

This is an honorable thing for you to do, but when you are trying to look out for your own interests, you may need to sometimes hold your cards a little close to your vest so that you can work on a good outcome. In this case, people could still give you a good reference even if you weren't going to go for the job. It's a pretty low hassle thing. But because you wanted to do the absolute best by them and not waste their time (ethical) you wound up getting yourself into a situation that was bad for you (having to have a conversation you weren't ready to have yet).

It can be hard for people with anxiety (speaking as one) to advocate for their own interests. I think your anxiety about worrying about being pressured into full-time work (as people have said above, no one can make you get a full time job) may have made this a little more awkward than it needed to be. Sounds like things are on a good track for now. I wish you the best for this moving forward. Make a little effigy of the recruiter and put a pin in it and try to put it behind you, you're better off rid of them.
posted by jessamyn at 1:01 PM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am relieved, but a bit sad that I made the rep at the staffing agency so angry. I was just trying to do the right thing. Did I mess this up somehow?

See my earlier comment about you likely not being the first person they’ve tried for this position. You showed up in the middle of Act III and he was probably a walking ball of angst by the end of Act I.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:07 PM on July 11, 2019

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