When You Think You’ve Made a Big Mistake

August 5, 2010 at 2:17 am Leave a comment

During a long career, everyone at one time or another is likely to have made a bad choice — taking an internship, job or promotion that ends up being a mistake. Sometimes you just didn’t do as much research as you should have on the organization or the position. Other times, the hiring manager may not have been entirely honest and may have left out some key details about the job (or alternately, may have oversold the “opportunity”). And sometimes it’s not your fault or theirs — it’s just not the right position for you.

If you get that nagging feeling that you have accepted a position that’s a bad fit, you’re faced with a hard choice: Do you tough it out and hope things get better, for the sake of your resume and career (not to mention a paycheck), or do you figure it’s time to cut your losses and start sending out resumes like mad in the hopes of landing something else?

Obviously, this is a highly personal decision and will be based on a number of factors including the stage of your career, how long you had been looking for a job before you found this one, how tough you think it would be to land another position and whether you have other means to support yourself (you won’t get severance if you quit) while you look again.

Yet here are some common-sense suggestions on what to do when you think you may have made a big mistake:

*Determine whether it’s as bad as it seems. Sometimes, especially if you haven’t had a lot of work experience (or were with one employer for a long time before this job so you don’t have much comparative experience) things that may be concerning you could just be early-in-a-new-job wrinkles. It can be tougher than expected to gain the respect of your new boss and colleagues, learn the language and work flow of the place, and figure out how to prioritize your job duties. Ask others on your team whether they had these jitters, too, and if so, how they got past them. Yet if there seems to be more of a fundamental mismatch — if you don’t feel competent to perform the job you’ve ended up in, for instance, or if you feel you’re being expected to work ridiculous hours — be honest with yourself right away. It’s better to determine whether there is a real problem early on rather than masking it.

*See if things can be fixed. If you’re handling different duties than you thought you’d have, you need to sit down with your supervisor and discuss what’s going on. If you don’t get satisfaction there, you may need to take your concerns to their supervisor. (Be careful about going over their head. Though if they won’t deal with it, you should take further action.) Perhaps there are some things that can be adjusted such as hours or job duties. And if you don’t bring this up early on, there never will be a chance to rectify things. Always have a solution to the problems you bring up to your boss. And if you can’t think of a solution, perhaps that’s your answer right there — it’s a sign this job isn’t right for you and you should get out when you can.

*It’s better to leave early than to wait. Though this situation is hardly ideal, the advice of several career experts I consulted on this issue is that it’s preferable to treat the wound right away rather than wait until it will be much more complicated to treat and will take longer to heal. If you leave — or start another job search in an attempt to leave quickly — you’ll likely do less damage to your career in the long run than if you perform poorly and risk being fired or laid off, or if you quit in a huff. Gaps in your resume can be explained away these days and if you get another job quickly, you may not even want to list this short-term job on your resume. Also, if you had other “irons in the fire” left over from your recent hunt, you still may be able to be considered for those openings. (Yet be careful about a “rebound” jump into a position — or you may end up repeating this scenario all over again.) This also shows why it’s important to keep doors open and to turn down offers with grace — you never know when you may need to go back to that organization again.

*Develop a strategy if you stay. Set a deadline for when you’ll make a decision about leaving if things don’t improve — and stick to it. If you languish in a job that’s not right for you, you’ll hurt your career — and your self-esteem — in the long run. You’ll need to maintain a positive attitude and try to learn your new job even as you look for another one, which could be exhausting. Seek out support from contacts you trust and tap your network to help you find another position.

*Check out this smart piece from glassdoor.com on what the rest of us — especially managers! — can learn from the summer interns in our midst. And if you failed to pay close enough attention to this group, the fall internship class is just around the corner:

What You Could Learn From Interns

*Now for some fresh job leads — in marketing, communications and journalism:

*TravelCLICK in nearby Baltimore has an opening for an SEO marketing analyst:

Marketing Analyst, SEO
The SEO analyst is responsible for driving…
TravelCLICKBaltimore, MD

*AvalonBay Communities has an opening in Alexandria for a marketing manager:

Marketing Manager
AvalonBay Communities, Inc. is one of the …
Avalon Bay CommunitiesAlexandria, VA

*IHS Inc. in Alexandria is looking for a marketing executive:

Marketing Executive
Alexandria, VA IHS (NYSE: IHS) is a leadin…
IHS, IncAlexandria, VA

*NARAL in D.C. has an opening for an assistant director of communications for media strategy and outreach:

Assistant Director of Communications for Media Strategy and Outreach
NARAL Pro-Choice America – Washington, DC
of Communications and Online Advocacy Strategies to coordinate media and online communications strategies… excellence in writing and communication skills;…
From idealist.org

*Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications in D.C. has an opening for an associate:

Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications is looking for an Associate to join its
growing practice. Candidates should be highly motivated self-starters
looking to put their politics and passion to work for progressive
non-profits focusing on a range of issues including human rights,
conflict resolution, and the intersection of faith and politics.
Knowledge of Middle East issues and the Jewish community are pluses.
Ideal candidates will have at least two years experience managing
multiple clients, excellent written and oral communication skills and
proven success at placing stories with major media outlets.

About the Firm

Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, a boutique media consulting and public
affairs firm in Washington, DC, focuses on message strategy, targeted
media outreach, and designing and publicizing high-profile events.
The firm has made a name for itself for its commitment to issues of
significant social importance within the realm of domestic American
politics, foreign policy initiatives, and ethnic and religious
affairs. For more information about our work, check out


Design and implement strategic communication campaigns on behalf of clients
Write and edit press releases, media advisories, op-eds and other
collateral materials
Target and pitch relevant media to cover client initiatives
Develop messaging platforms and branding strategies


Minimum 2 years work (not intern) experience in communications,
marketing or public relations. This is not a job for someone who just
graduated in 2010.
Non-profit, Capitol Hill and/or campaign experience a plus
Strong oral and written communications skills
Experience writing public relations materials (press releases, op-eds,
letters to the editor, speeches)
Proven ability to develop, pitch, and place stories with media outlets
Experience developing messaging strategies
Understanding of today’s varied communications platforms including
traditional media, social networking, viral marketing, and the
A working knowledge of the Washington and national political scenes,
the pro-Israel and American Jewish communities, and not least of all –
the news media;
Copy editing skills
A finely tuned-attention to detail, balanced by an ability to
multi-task and to work under strict deadlines
Initiative, enthusiasm, a propensity for original thought and a sense of humor

Application process:

Please submit a resume, cover letter, salary history, and a writing
sample, including a press release and an opinion piece. Materials
should be submitted to jobs@rabinowitz-dorf.com. Please put
“associate” in the subject line.

*And to wrap up today’s leads, Yahoo! has an opening in D.C. for a news politics editor:


Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How to Change Their Minds About You What Makes the Real Difference for Hiring Managers

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