Got a new job? Look Before You Leap

Although dramatically quitting a job that you dislike offers immediate short-term benefits (not the least of which is stress relief), considering all of your options first will pay you great dividends in the long-term and avoid some burned bridges. Do you see signs that it’s time to quit? Or does a position – any position – look good if it means you are no longer unemployed? Slow down for just a second.

A recent study tracked 7,000 Australians over a seven-year period, and found that unemployed people generally reported feeling calmer, happier, less depressed, and less anxious after finding work, but this was only the case if their new jobs were rewarding and manageable. Taking a few moments to regroup before you leap into a new position is a wise idea.

“It is always exciting to get a job offer, particularly in this tough economy,” says Johnna Major, founder and president of Cornerstone HR, whose business focuses on recruiting, performance management, total rewards and HR administration and compliance. “But as you evaluate an offer, it’s important to carefully evaluate whether this is a good fit for you and will be something you can commit to for the long-term.”

Major offers the following questions to consider:

  • Did you have good rapport with the hiring manager? If you didn’t get a chance to ask questions or if the manager did all the talking, it may be a sign that this won’t be a collaborative relationship.
  • Were you asked enough questions by your interviewer(s) to truly assess your skill set/match-ability for the job? If not, how do you know you are a good fit?
  • Were you able to view your workspace and meet co-workers? Having a good rapport with the hiring manager is important, but feeling comfortable with your environment and team members is equally important.
  • What does the interview process tell you about the organization’s culture and how does this fit with your values? If a manager arrived late, allowed interruptions during your interview, or didn’t communicate with you in a timely fashion, this is probably what they’re like as a boss. Can you live with that?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of what the job entails? If not, it could mean a challenging start and uncertainty around expectations. If you’re a person who likes organization and structure, a changing, unclear position may not work for you.
  • Have you talked with people in the community about the reputation of the company and about your manager? Ask folks who may have worked there or know someone else who has worked there. If you pick up any red flags, try to address them and get clarity from the hiring manager before accepting an offer.
  • How does the commute compare with your current or last position? Is it significantly longer? If so, does the position justify the extra time and expense?
  • Is the pay less than what you are making or were making at your last job? If so, can you absorb the pay cut without sacrificing your lifestyle too much? With modest salary increases these days, you need to be prepared to live on that salary level for the foreseeable future.

Learn how much you will have to pay out of pocket for your health, dental and vision benefits. This includes payroll deduction, the plan design including deductibles and co-pays. Does the company pay for short- and long-term disability insurance, or will you have to pay for it?

You HAD to ask….I was a Branch Administrator in a very tiny office. I disliked all the women in there that I worked for. My hours were 8:30-5. The previous week before I quit, I brought my personal things home, a few at a time. Then on the next Friday, I went in at 6AM when nobody was there. I printed all the reports for the week and left them on the boss’ desk along with my key to the office with a note that said, “Please don’t EVER call me.” That was in the nineties.

– Carol, NH

When I worked for a local bank, the boss was so jealous and mentally cruel to me. I lasted eight agonizing years there. I had finally had it when I was screamed at in front of my whole office. I wrote up my resignation letter and gave it to the vice president. She wanted to do an Exit Interview. I said no, it wasn’t necessary and that I’d just let myself out and promptly left.

– Jan, NH

I remember one time I got a job at ToysRUs and they put me at the entrance to greet people in a big red shirt with a giraffe on it. I looked like a dork. In walks my first girlfriend who must have laughed at me for years when she saw me in that shirt. So I quit the job. I went to punch out and it said 32 minutes – the shortest job I’ve ever worked.

– Kenny, RI

I quietly walked out – literally. No notice – told my ridiculously immature, power-driven supervisor, “I have had enough of you!” After 14+ years as an accounting specialist – an original employee in a plush/progressive environment – I simply quit! The ridiculous power struggle with this “kid” and the environment became so unrewarding at the end of the day. This single gal, during a recession, with no safety net, picked up her toys and went home! Pursing a dream to become a nurse, I’m up and running and rocking! I’m in college and LOVE my new career … money vs. happiness. I have never been so happy! It’s NOT the way to quit a job. My checkbook aches; but my heart soars with fulfillment – I LOVE going to work!

– Linda, VT

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Margaret Hansen has been writing professionally since receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maine. She has worked for multiple organizations as a weekly newspaper reporter, a weekly newspaper editor, and in a variety of internal/external marketing communications roles. Her freelance career has focused on writing and editing for print, email and web publications in the employment industry, as well as manuscript editing and resume writing.