If you read our site you’ve lost count of the times we’ve noted it’s a ‘candidate’s market.’ Low overall unemployment, a 30% reduction in the size of the cleared workforce, and one-to-two year waits for new security clearances mean an active clearance and the right skills are a guarantee of continual job offers. The impulse to jump into a new opportunity may be high. And one of the side benefits of those making a move is the knowledge that if you don’t like your new job, you can easily find a new one – or even return to your old employer.
Buyer’s remorse is nothing new, even for the job seeker. What do you do if you start a new position and things aren’t quite right? The usual advice would be to wait it out at least a year. Not today. It’s not uncommon to see candidate’s jumping ship from a toxic opportunity after six months, six weeks, or even six days. That doesn’t mean you should flee because you don’t like the brand of coffee they serve in the break room. But if any of these seven issues happen to you, you may have good cause to cut and run.
1. Your Boss is Crazy.
Unfortunately, most boss’ don’t reveal themselves as crazy until much later (kind of kind online dating). But in some cases, you can smell the scary from the door. Most employees ultimately leave a position because of a toxic boss or poor management. There may be good reasons to wait it out, but if a new job is waiting or your old one will take you back, you may save yourselves months of headaches if you quit vs. waiting it out.
2. The Job Isn’t As Advertised.
The matchmaking process of job interviews isn’t always well-suited for letting candidates know what the day-to-day life is really like. That’s why it’s good advice to meet with other team members, or visit your future office before you make a move. In a cleared workspace however, this kind of transparency isn’t always possible, and you may find yourself sitting at a desk with a job description that looks vastly different than what you’d signed on for.
If this happens, your first step should be to work with your supervisor and human resources to see if there is another opportunity with the company available. If not, it’s okay to walk away.
3. The company lied to you.
This really shouldn’t happen, and companies can’t afford this kind of reputation suicide in today’s digital, ultra-networked age. But I still regularly hear from candidates who were told one thing and find another thing on the other side of the hiring desk. Sometimes it may come down to miscommunication between a human resources office and program manager. Regardless, if you were promised certain benefits (telework, flexible schedule, professional development) and are then told they aren’t available, you should feel no guilt in walking out the door.
4. You encounter discrimination.
This is a controversial one – there’s a strong case for staying and putting in the effort to report abuses of power. I would say the same thing if one faces overt discrimination about gender or race. But unfortunately, a lot of discrimination is more subtle. What you encounter may not pass muster for an equal opportunity office complaint, but it still may not be an environment you’d choose to passionately pursue your career, either. In addition, sometimes you observe discrimination but don’t experience it. You can certainly report what you see, but it’s hard to affect change when it isn’t happening to you. Sometimes it’s best to vote with your feet and walk away.
5. Your Coworkers Hate Each Other.
You might not need to love your coworkers in order to be happy and successful in a job, but you should probably be able to tolerate most of them. If politics, infighting, or straight out hostility is the office norm, run for the door.
6. You’re expected to come in and fire someone.
It’s good when companies set the bar high – even for new employees. But if you walk into an office expected to turn the entire place around (and this wasn’t communicated in your job interview), there are probably bigger problems than you can solve. Another example is taking on a new management position – and immediately being told you have to layoff several team members. A new manager should not be expected to make personnel changes within the first two weeks. If that’s the expectation, you’re in a toxic office – layoffs will not help, and will affect your credibility with those who survive the cuts.
7. You Receive No Training or Work within the first two weeks.
For cleared workers awaiting the right credentialing and access, you very well may be sitting on your hands for the first weeks or months of a new job. But assuming you’re on a work site (even if it’s the company headquarters as you await access to a government facility), you should have something to do – even if it’s as basic as online research. If you’re patient, you may be willing to wait out a lengthy onboarding. But if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs, and with a manager who is completely inaccessible, that’s a sign to take your security clearance and run. You are valuable enough to be acknowledged, and should have your questions to management answered – even if you can’t technically do the work just yet.
Taking a new job is a tough decision – leaving a new job can be even worse. But you’ll be kicking yourself if you stay in a job for months or years, when the handwriting was on the wall in the first day. One caveat clearance holders should know – even if you only work at a position for a few days, you still need to list it on your SF-86. This is a question that frequently comes up for security clearance holders who have worked in a variety of jobs – many for short durations. Even if you can’t remember the name of your supervisor or other details, include what you do know on the SF-86, along with your reason for leaving.