I Just Started A Horrible Job! Now What?

We need this completed in the next ten minutes! (

We need this completed in the next ten minutes! (

Great news! You know that company you've been interviewing with? The recruiter just called and extended you the offer!

The pay they're offering is great – in fact, the salary is 20% higher than what you're currently making. The job title's better, too - you were a manager in your last job, this company's going to make you a director, and with an even bigger team and more responsibility. And they really seem to want you - the company's even offering a $10,000 signing bonus to send you the message that they value you. It's a dream come true!

Or is it? You've spoken with a headhunter who is intimately familiar with the company, and she tells you to run the other way - the company's a madhouse. There was an exposé in the newspaper recently about the gaping deficiencies in the company culture, which detailed massive amounts of unpaid overtime, endless piles of work, and a backstabbing culture compounded by massive turnover and attrition. Oh – by the way, the employer reviews on Glassdoor are overwhelmingly negative.

But how bad can the company be? The people who interviewed you all seemed engaged and happy. You ask the recruiter about the article in the paper and the Glassdoor reviews, and she tells you things have improved substantially since then.

You accept the job. The money's just too good to pass up, and besides – when are you going to get this opportunity again anytime soon?

Day one arrives. You show up to work, and you realize all that negative feedback you heard about the company is true. Absolutely true.

Those people you interviewed with who seemed really happy at the time? They bark at you. Your boss dumps you off in your cubicle, and you find a gigantic pile of work with your name on it. It needs to be dealt with. Now. And that team of people they told you you would have to help you deal with this workload? Only one of those employees still works in the department, there are five open positions, and there's enough work to keep more than twenty people busy for six months. You're expected to make a serious dent in the pile within two weeks – it's all labeled top priority, and the situation is completely unrealistic. Your stomach sinks. You've never been on blood pressure or ulcer medications before, but now seems like a good time to start.

Now what?

Although you may not have much time to think about yourself while facing this insurmountable work situation, you need to make some decisions, and prepare for the future.

Meet With Your Manager To Gain Alignment. It may be beneficial to speak with your manager about the job that was presented to you during the interviews, the actual conditions you walked into, and what can be done to remedy the situation so that you can determine if things are fixable. This isn't without risk, however; your manager may quickly decide that you're a discontent and it would be easier to part ways with you, effective now. Decide whether such a conversation would make sense, or if the risk outweighs the reward.

Decide Whether Stay Or Split. Take a deep breath, then consider the consequences of staying or cutting your losses. The old rule of thumb used to be that it's best to tough it out for two years into a job before heading for the door. Truthfully, people aren't staying in jobs as long as they used to. Likewise, volatile organizations can spit people out who don't meet their perceived performance criteria increasingly quickly. Make a decision about what you want to do. Potential employers are often willing to hire somebody who decides to leave a job quickly shortly after starting if it's clearly not a match, with little ill effect – so long as it's not a pattern in their work history. Then again, you may decide you have too much invested in the situation and you need to make it work. If you're a specialist in a specific industry and the company made you sign a non-competition agreement, your options outside the company may be limited.

If You Decide To Leave, Get Your Financial House In Order. Bank that sign-on bonus and forget about it – under your employment agreement you may be required to pay it back if you leave within a year or two; ditto for any sort of relocation expenses. Consider delaying any major purchases including that tempting move up to a larger house paid for with that increased salary. Leverage your financial freedom - if your finances allow you to take a step back to your prior pay level, you'll have much more flexibility in the job opportunities you consider.

Get Your Resume And LinkedIn Profile Ready, and Work Your Network. These are your best marketing tools, ensure that they are current and properly show your the value you've demonstrated throughout your career. And make sure they're modulated for the appropriate level you're seeking. In order to make a quick exit, it may be required that you step back to your previous job title and level.

Maybe You CAN Go Home Again. It's highly likely that the job you left hasn't been filled yet. Presuming you left your last employer on pleasant terms, it's possible that they may be willing to consider taking you back into your old job. It's not unheard of. Reach out to your old manager, and ask if the door might still be open for your return. Just don't expect them to meet your current salary and title. If the door is in fact still open, you'll likely come back at your old rank and salary – and it's possible, depending upon company policy, that you'll miss the next raise or bonus cycle due to the fact that you weren't there the full year and would be treated like a new employee.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at, or via the website,

Career Burn Notice: Circumventing A Recruiter

Heh, heh, heh...   FIRE! FIRE!  ( Law)

Heh, heh, heh... FIRE! FIRE! ( Law)

How would you like to kill your reputation with every staffing firm in town – in one easy step?

The scenario. You get an unexpected call from a headhunter at a staffing firm. He's pitching a job opportunity in town with a hot technology company that's engaged him to find somebody for the position, and if you're interested, he'd like to present your resume to them. Based upon the conversation, it sounds like the job is a great match for you, and would be an interesting step forward for your career. Once you've made it abundantly clear to the recruiter that you're interested in the job, he tells you the name of the company.

"Sure sounds interesting," you say to the recruiter. "Let me think about it and get back to you."

Then, in a moment of supposed clarity you decide that you've got a better chance of representing yourself to the employer, than you do if you have the staffing firm representing you. So, you go online to the company's website, ascertain which position the recruiter was selling you, and apply. Then you go on LinkedIn and send a note to the company's human resources department.

You've cut the staffing firm out of the equation. Pretty clever, right?

Wrong. You've just earned yourself a burn notice within the staffing world.

In case you're not familiar with the term "burn notice," it's a reference to a television show in which a CIA agent is disavowed and disowned by the agency. In essence, he's been labelled unreliable, and nobody wants anything to do with him.

Here's how this applies to you. Recruiters at staffing firms earn their paycheck by placing job seekers at companies. They get paid a fee - typically in the neighborhood of 25% of the first year's salary - to find a qualified candidate and get them hired. By cutting the staffing firm who presented you the job out of the loop, you've demonstrated that you're a liability. So let's say the job paid $100,000 annually; the staffing firm was due to get a cool $25k out the deal by placing you.

You cost the recruiter 25 big ones. At minimum, you've muddied the waters in terms of how you were made aware of the job and how your resume made it into the employer's hands. At most, you've shown both the staffing agency recruiter and the employer you can't be trusted – they'll talk about your application at length, and it's pretty likely that no matter how qualified you are for the job, both parties will decide that you're a bad player and not worth pursuing. It's the end of the road for your candidacy in this particular job.

And you'll have earned a flag on your application at both the staffing firm and the employer, telling anybody who's considering you for a job to avoid you like the plague.

Think it stops there? Think again. Recruiters can change firms, and trust me - when your name comes up in conversation as a potential candidate, they'll remember how you cost them their payday. You'll be persona non grata with their new firm, too.

I'm not saying that there aren't exceptions to this situation. There are always exceptions; but you are taking a substantial risk to your reputation by circumventing the recruiter. However, if you've already applied for the job with the company, that's another story. Let the recruiter know.

Bottom Line: You may have an "in" at the potential company, or simply feel that your chances are better if you apply on your own. Fight the urge to act outside the process. The recruiter is simply doing his or her job, and by identifying you for the role they've staked their claim on you for the position. Going around them at that point will be perceived as high treason, and may hurt your cause in the short and the long term than any gains you may realize.

  • Want to boost your chances of getting noticed when applying for jobs online? Follow this link!
  • What should you do if your employer finds out you're looking for a new job? Find out here.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at, or via the website,



How to Successfully Maneuver a Job Fair


Job fairs can be intimidating. They're big, they're typically held at arenas or hotels, they're crowded, and you don't get much of an opportunity to speak with companies because there's usually a long line of other candidates waiting behind you for their turn.

Yep, it's a meat market. But you can successfully navigate a job fair to your advantage. You just need to be strategic in how you manage it.

First of all, who are those people standing around in the booth, representing the company? Here are the players:

  • The Corporate Recruiter / Human Resources Representative. More often than not, the HR guy / gal planned the company's presence at the job fair. They've been up all night putting the display together and making sure the hiring managers who were supposed to be there actually are there. Their primary motivations are filling open jobs, and going the hell home.
  • The Top Performer. Companies usually like to have their a-list employees at the career fairs, because it reflects well upon the company. Particularly popular at college fairs. I mean, why would they invite...
  • The Poor Performer. Yes, you read that right - often a company will designate a bottom performer as the individual to go to the career fair. Why? Why would they do that? Because they won't be missed in the office - if their performance isn't great, how much more harm can it do to have them out of work for the day? Not that the job seekers being judged have any idea that this is happening.
  • The Happy Alumnus. When it comes to college fairs, employers love to send their alumni, and the alumni usually love to get a free trip back to campus. When I worked at Motorola, we employed a substantial number of University of Florida graduates. They would have gladly had a knife fight to decide the winner, and thus who went to Gainesville. It makes sense - proud alumni are enamored of their alma mater, and they're going to be highly engaged.
  • Selected At Random. Yup, they needed a warm body, and this individual didn't have any pressing business.

Now you know the players. How do you effectively stand out at a job fair?

  1. Start early. Job fairs start quiet then build to a roar as the day gets going. If you have the ability to arrive when the fair opens, you have a better chance at shorter lines. You also get fresher company reps, who haven't talked themselves raw. You may get the opportunity for a more in-depth conversation.
  2. Dress for success. Wear a suit. A nice suit. This is your first impression with a company. If you're coming from work, and they have a business casual dress code, change into that suite before going into the job fair. It makes a difference.
  3. Have a plan of attack. Job fair organizers will often publish a list of exhibitors prior to the event. Decide upon your must-visit employers and see them first. Then canvas the rest of the fair.
  4. Print your resumes on nice stationery. A bonded linen paper looks far nicer than your glossy white copy paper. It shows you care.
  5. Have targeted cover letters for your key employers. This is a nice little touch that can make a big difference. If you know that you will be visiting Company X at the job fair, have a customized cover letter for that employer.
  6. Polish your elevator pitch. This is the first thing you say after introducing yourself - 30 seconds about who you are and what type of position you're looking for. A snappy intro will help generate interest.
  7. Watch for the cues that your time is up. Interviewers want to be nice, but they may be trying to signal that they need to get to the next person. If it feels like you've overstayed your welcome, you probably have. Thank them for their time, and move on to your next exhibitor.
  8. Send thank you notes. If you obtained the interviewer's contact information, a brief email to them after the fair thanking them for their time along with a soft copy of your resume will reinforce your interest.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at, or via the website,