What to Do When a New Job Feels Like a Step Back

What to Do When a New Job Feels Like a Step Back

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You’ve decided to take a new job that doesn’t feel exactly right. You were excited to leave your last position, so you didn’t fully screen opportunities, instead seizing the first one that came along.

Unfortunately, now you’re in a predicament: your new job isn’t any better than the last one. Though your previous job was stressful and unfulfilling, this one feels like a step back. You have fewer management duties and responsibilities, so the role seems like one you held several steps back on your career trajectory.

Sometimes, you might start a job that feels like a step back because you didn’t understand what the job entailed; other times, the position might have been misrepresented in the job posting and interview. 

This is a common experience. A recent survey found that 72 percent of workers had the experience of starting a new job that turned out to be different from what they thought they were getting into. Thirty percent reported that both the role and the company were not like they expected. 

So, what should you do? Do you need to stick it out for the sake of your resume? How can you make sure you don’t just end up in another role that feels like a professional dead end? 

Here’s our advice for if you’ve inadvertently taken a job that feels like a step back. 


🔎 Explore ways to improve your job situation.

Though you’re unhappy with the role as it is, you should first aim to be proactive in modifying the aspects of the role you find dissatisfying. For instance, if the position isn’t challenging enough for you, you could make suggestions to your boss about taking on projects to build a skill you want to develop. Of, if you find that you’ve lost responsibilities that you appreciated in your last role, then you could talk to your boss about what you’re missing. 

“Once you have a meeting with your manager, you may find them more flexible and open to suggestions than you thought. The last thing you want to do is blindside your boss by quitting without giving them a chance to improve the situation,” said Caroline Castrillon for Forbes. 


📊 Consider if you care more about factors other than your career ladder.

It’s easy to perceive a job that is less stressful as less challenging. But this isn’t necessarily the case. It makes sense to consider if your new role is simply less intense, making you perceive it as a step backward, as well. 

Even if the job is too easy for you at the moment, could it lead to something better at the company later on? Or, if you’ve been working in a grueling, time-intensive role, are the benefits of this step back actually helpful to you? Perhaps the flexibility and work-life balance might even be worth taking the less-demanding role, especially if the pay is equivalent. 


💪 Don’t be afraid to quit.

If your boss isn’t amenable to changing your job responsibilities, and you can’t settle into your job, there is nothing wrong with quitting your new job, even if you haven’t worked there long. 

Younger workers are much more amenable to shorter tenures at jobs that don’t work out. Specifically, 80 percent of respondents to a survey said that it was fine for employees to leave jobs they didn’t like before they’d worked for fewer than six months. 


⛔ But don’t burn bridges when you do.

If a job isn’t what you envisioned, you may feel bitterness towards your manager and the company. But don’t let this anger come out in your resignation. Instead, talk about how there is a misalignment between the company culture or the role and the way you prefer to work. 

Coach Eloise Eonnet suggests a response similar to the following: “I can contribute meaningfully when I have more responsibility and autonomy in decision making. I know this about myself and need to find a role that better aligns with how I thrive,” she told Bloomberg.


📑 Map out your professional life.

Once you’ve decided to quit, you want to make sure you’re not making the same career mistake a second time. So, you want to figure out what your next job would look like in an ideal world. Take stock of your skills, values, and interests, and then think about your dream job or where you want to land in your career. 

Next, start mapping the roles people usually hold in between the job you hold now and that dream role you envision. What are the next steps? If you feel like you’ve already moved beyond the job you currently hold, figure out the next jump on the career trajectory that can get you there. 


Next Steps When a Job Feels Like a Step Back


It can be disheartening when you take a job that you immediately know isn’t right for you. Regardless of how you found yourself in this situation, you don’t have to stick it out for the sake of your resume. After talking to your boss about changing the position, you can then feel free to quit without guilt. 

But next time, ensure you don’t land in a similarly-dissatisfying situation. To find a career that works better for you, you want to be sure you know what you’re looking for. If you’re unsure what the next step in your career journey should look like, consider connecting with one of Ivy Exec’s career coaches.

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