“What do I do after three weeks on the job, and I realize it is not the job for me?”

Question: Hey, Alan, I am a database/software web developer. I recently took a job at my old firm after a layoff.

Though I did my best to ferret out the details of the new job to make sure it was a good “job fit,” I have determined after being on the job only three weeks that I am not the best person for the position. In fact, I don’t fit the job very well at all.

Many of the software technologies are not the kind I have worked with, even though it is a web environment. If I had been given a better overview of the code base, I might have told them in the interview I was not qualified.

So, what is a way to minimize the “damage” for both parties and move on positively?

I’m sure this is going to make my next job harder to come by. Anyway, any help would be appreciated.

        Pascagoula, Mississippi

Answer: Eric, your questions are ones that I, myself, had many years ago when arriving on a new job only to soon discover, within weeks, that it was “not meant to be.”

First, I don’t know why you presume “this is going to make my next job harder to come by.” I would not presume that. So short a stay, following your being out of work due to a layoff, could easily be left off your resume. Further, your handling this situation in a professional manner – which seems to be the way you are going about this –  may end up being something of a “feather in your cap,” should the episode become a topic of conversation with any smart future interviewer.

Second, you should understand that this is not uncommon, and may be “mutual.” You must understand that this area of worklife is something like dating. Sometimes it takes only two minutes – sometimes even less – to know “this was a date that I will not remember fondly.” Every single person in the world has had a few of them. And it is “two-sided,” that is, sometimes the employer knows it early on, sometimes the employee knows it early on, and sometimes it is known to both almost immediately. Your employer may feel the same way you do, and may also be seeking a “graceful way out.”

Third, if you truly believe this working relation is not meant to be, and  is not salvageable, I encourage you to prepare a written memo to your boss or hiring person to that effect. Explain your thoughts, without any sense of blame, and make sure you express your desire not to cause any difficulty or damage to your employer, and that in fact, your intention is just the opposite. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by exhibiting your professionalism, even in this awkward situation.

Fourth, based on what you know, do you have an idea for a “best available solution?” If so, consider putting that “best available solution” into your memo as a “proposal for discussion.” Make sure you are clear that this memo is not, in itself, a resignation, but rather an acknowledgement and a desire to find a “best available and mutually acceptable solution.”

Finally, consider this a challenge, in fact an opportunity, to be creative with little to lose. There have been many, many times in history that such “errors” have ended up in the most amazing discoveries, the most unexpected achievements, and the most surprising successes, without any planning but with mere coincidence. It’s like Edison inventing the telephone when he blurted out, “Watson, come here . . . I need you.” So many great business people and scientists attest to the fact that their most wonderful “achievements” were responses to “failure.” You might just find that they want to use the software you have used in the past, not their own, but have been afraid to admit it to anyone.

Hope this helps. I really do. I ask you please to drop a line for our upcoming “Wednesday Walking Taller at Work” blog feature that will report on how people facing problems at work overcame them.

          Best, Al Sklover   

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Print Article