The Silicon Valley Voice

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When a Job Goes Oops!

When did it happen for you?

Can you put your finger on the exact moment when you realized that by accepting your job, you made a serious career boo-boo?

Was it when you understood that the company actually expected you to do things that were evil and immoral, like work? Or did it take years for you to finally realize that your manager wasn’t going to get any nicer, your co-workers were going to get any smarter, and the company wasn’t ever going to step back from teetering on the edge of disaster?

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Whenever it was, it is no surprise that you would now ask yourself the perfectly reasonable question — should I have known this job was a bummer before I ever let those devils in HR make me sign the employment contract — in blood?

If this is how you feel, here is what you should read: “Ten Signs You Never Should Have Taken The Job,” a recent article by Liz Ryan on Forbes.

Now, I assume Ms. Ryan wrote this insightful piece because she wished she had never taken the job of writing articles on forbes.com. But we really can’t be too hard on her. After all, the most lucrative, most powerful article-writing job had already been taken by little old me, and she probably felt she might as well take the Forbes gig.

In any case, the article will show you the signs that would tip you off to a new miserable position when you lose your current miserable position. So let’s get into it.

Clue No. 1 is “On your first day, the people who should welcome you aren’t ready for your arrival and seem mystified as to what to do with you.”

Good clue, or is it? In your case, your manager was right there to personally chain your leg to your work station and, so you could work through lunch, left a welcome bowl of cold oatmeal on your desk.

That was in the past. What should resonate now is that, even after all this time, people still seem mystified as to what to do with you, though “firing your sorry butt” may be top of mind.

Clue No. 2 is the “clear and exciting job description your new boss laid out for you turns out to be imaginary. The real job description is either formless (read ‘shaky’) or trivial and boring.”

Of course, in your case, it was the “you” you presented in the initial interviews who turned out to be imaginary. If you regret taking your job, imagine how remorseful your boss must feel after offering it to you. This should give you comfort. Yes, the job may be trivial and boring, but you do have the opportunity every day to make your boss miserable.

Clue No. 4 may surprise you. “Your boss hides away in their office.” This is not the sign of a job you shouldn’t take, but a job you should be eternally grateful you accepted. If your boss wants to hide, help her out. Board up the office door and drape it with yellow crime tape. It may be years before you see her again.

Clue No. 7 is that “you realize that almost everything you heard at your job interviews was false.” This is definitely true in your case. Interestingly, all the false claims and big promises came from you.

You certainly can’t blame yourself for lying, but you can, with equal certainty, blame your boss for believing you. Basically, if someone is sufficiently stupid to offer you a job, then that’s a job you don’t want to take.

Detecting Clue No. 9 requires the perspicacity of two Sherlock Holmes. As Liz Ryan writes, “You can feel the negative energy in the workplace the moment you enter it.”

Of course, someone as sensitive as you does feel the negative energy. The problem is in determining how much of that negative energy is generated by the job and how much emanates from y-o-u.

Final clue No. 10 is “When you wake up in the morning you get a few seconds of calm happiness before you remember that you have to go to work.”

This may be a sign of a job you shouldn’t take, but it doesn’t mean you must refuse employment. In this situation, there is a perfectly simple and effective solution to waking up on a workday struck with doubt and fear.

Go back to sleep.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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