Sometimes the next step turns out to be the wrong step or, at least, not as smoothly paved as you thought. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and unsure what the most professional route out is, here are some things to consider.
1. Recognize and reflect on the reasons you're considering leaving.
There are many reasons you might be unsatisfied with a new position. Make sure to take time to reflect on the reasons. Is the position salvageable? Could there be an action taken to eliminate the problem you’re facing or clear the air somehow? Are you just hitting a learning curve with the new position that will just take time? What are the long-term pros and cons to consider with the position?
2. Allow yourself to give it a chance.
Give yourself time to get comfortable and learn your environment. You never know what you could learn from the experience. Learning a new position, programs, and internal structures/policies, and learning how to work with new management and coworkers—it all takes time. Learning and relationship building aren’t instantly achieved. It’s important to give yourself some adjustment time to really feel out if you're just experiencing a growing pain or if the position genuinely isn’t a good fit. Do your due diligence of feeling it out, so if you need to leave you can appropriately compare of your current situation to alternatives that you find.
3. Be transparent.
You could take a direct approach and speak directly with either management or an HR rep about what’s making you uncomfortable or unhappy. Before you initiate a direct conversation like this, try to prepare some ideas for solutions to remedy the situation, so you aren’t just putting down the company for whatever’s displeasing you. Make it an open and honest conversation and demonstrate resourcefulness.
4. Change your perspective.
If you’re now viewing your position differently than when you first interviewed, take things with a grain of salt. Candidates as well as employers represent themselves in a glamorous light in interviews. So consider the idea of a shift in your perception. Maybe your position isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Maybe it’s too little or too much work. Maybe the role is too structured or not structured enough. Or maybe it’s entirely different than what you agreed to. Can you be disappointed in this naturally? Sure. But you can also view this as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage. Potentially, you could learn something new from this that will diversify your resume. Being placed in a role where you’re doing different tasks than expected is common. Sometimes business demands change between your interview and being hired on. If your company’s perspective has changed on the aspects needed to fill its needs, it could also be beneficial for you to alter your perspective and demonstrate adaptability and flexibility.
Also, take time with relationship building. You could be in a situation where you’re putting your best efforts forward and doing all you can but still missing the mark according to a colleague or superior. Take a step back to recognize that sometimes your perception of the best you can do isn’t the same as someone else’s. This can be really tough, but try to pay attention to (or even ask directly about) what isn’t in alignment with what is wanted of you and what you are doing. Take notes, express that you want to be successful, and do what you can to align your perceptions to that of your managers.
5. Reassess after some time.
How much time should you give the situation a try and feel things out before deciding that you need to move on? It’s not the easiest thing to determine. If you have the experience to draw from, take note of how long it has taken you in previous employment situations to feel comfortable and settled into a company. Try to give it that much time or at least half of that. If you absolutely think you’re in a terrible situation and it’s early enough for you to back out of it within a probationary period, politely do so. Note that if it was a very short period of new employment and won't assist you in obtaining future positions, it's okay to omit the job from your resume.
Lastly, remember to always leave an employer on a good note. Use every job opportunity as a networking opportunity. You never want to burn a bridge. You never know when a past employer or colleague could be useful in the future.