Your new job isn't turning out to be anything like you imagined. Deciding whether you should stay and try to fix the problem, or move on to another opportunity, isn't something to approach lightly.

By Chad Broadus | August 2008


You've made it. The job search and interview process is behind you, and you're part of a new company. But after a few weeks, you get the feeling the job may not be a good fit for you, after all. What do you do now? Cut or Stay?

It's not an easy decision to make - or one to take lightly. Leave and you may miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Stay and you may end up putting yourself through the wringer.

Analysis is key

Before making a hasty decision, take a step back to analyze the situation.  Pamela Skillings, career coach and author of Escape from Corporate America, believes the key is to figure out what's bothering you. Is the problem your boss and if so, what aspect? Is he contradictory or unclear? Is it the job? Are your duties unpleasant or not what you expected?  "Once you pinpoint the problem, then you can figure out what you can fix and what you can't," Skillings says.

Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist and executive coach in San Francisco, counsels employees to do external exploration as well. "Get some different points of view. If you have a career coach, partner, or friend, bounce some of your thoughts off of them to see if it really adds up." Also, include people within the new company, he advises. "If possible, find someone you can trust within the organization, and talk about what you are thinking and feeling," he says. "Don't be a lone ranger about it. Perhaps that person had some of the same cold feet for the first three months."

Deciding to Stay

Dan Emmons, a systems administrator, found himself in a cut-or-stay moment after taking a job at a start-up. The culture shock of transitioning from an established, mature company to a fast-moving environment with high turnover had him second guessing his decision to accept the job offer in the first place. In addition, the position he'd taken was a technical stretch for him, and he found himself over his head at times.  However, after taking a hard look at where he wanted to go with his career, and what he could get out of the job, he decided to stick it out. "I was able to experience start-up culture first-hand and really pushed myself to a new level with my skills," he reflects. "Ultimately, staying turned out to the right decision for me."

Deciding to stay may involve some difficult steps. Once you've identified possible issues that can be resolved, you have to address them. Talk to your direct manager or other superior, and collaborate with them to work through the issues. It may be your challenges can either be ironed out within the current position or situation, or a transfer to another area or job that's a better fit can be worked out.

Deciding to Cut

Technical support specialist Jacob Hogg hit his cut-or-stay moment within a month after landing his first gig as a systems administrator. After digging into the new position, he was surprised to be working with outdated technology and management's tough attitude toward the ROI of infrastructure improvements. After a few promises of the hiring agreement were broken, he decided that it was time to go. "I took a step back in the industry, but am fine with it," Hogg says now. "I am looking to get back into administration, but now know what to look for. I learned a lot. I am one of those people that try to take as much from each experience in life as possible, even if it's a bad one."

As Dan Emmons and Jacob Hogg found, making the effort to analyze and explore your individual situation provides the opportunity to peel back layers and discover what's going to be right for you. Cut-or-stay moments are tough, but it's possible to get through them and on with your career.

Chad Broadus is a tech professional based in Oregon.