Have you ever taken a new job only to find out that it was a disaster? Sometimes this is because it's just not a good fit. Sometimes the hiring manager lied to you about the job. (Surprisingly, hiring managers do this all the time--they'll play up a job and promise candidates the world, then when the person starts, reality comes out.) If you just can't stand it anymore how do you explain your three-month stint as a Marketing Director in a job interview? And how do you explain that you quit without a new job lined up? (If that's the case.) Here are some suggestions.

Think About Your Job History

If you have a solid job history, having one short job shouldn't be too much of a problem. If you were at your last job for five years, and the previous one for three, saying, "I thought this would be a great opportunity to do X, but two weeks after I started that project was canceled and my boss assigned me to do Y, which I had no interest in doing." Or "In the job interview, I was promised the ability to work from home two days a week. That was revoked as soon as I started."

However, if you have a series of short-term jobs you need to consider that you, not your managers, might be the problem. You might not be, but any potential hiring manager will think that. If that's the case, you need to consider toughing out the new miserable job. Otherwise, quitting might make it close to impossible to find a new job.

Consider Asking For Your Old Job Back

If you left your last job on good terms, you may wish to ask your old manager or company for your job back. Tell them you made a mistake. Sometimes they will want you back and sometimes they won't, but it doesn't hurt to try. This is one of the critical reasons you need to give proper notice and work up until the end.

Even if your previous manager cannot or will not rehire you, you need her reference to get a new job. She might even be able to help you with some networking. So, swallow your pride and call her up and explain your situation.

Consider Your Finances

If you quit your job without another job lined up, you won't be eligible for unemployment and it might take a while to find a new job. So, consider if you can literally afford to leave a job you hate. You may have to stick it out until you've earned enough vacation time to be able to interview for new jobs. If you've got the money, remember that it can sometimes take a year or more to find a good job.

Don't Blame Your Bad Boss

It's okay to say you made a mistake. It's okay to bring up that things were not as expected, but don't bad-mouth the company or your short-term boss. The key phrases are "it wasn't a good fit" and "I work better in a different environment" not "my boss turned out to be a jerk" and "it was a toxic environment." You don't want to sound negative even though it's obvious that you have a negative opinion about the job.

Focus on why this job is the one that will be a much better fit for you. Tell them, to quote Alison Green at Ask a Manager, that you're "being selective, but I'm excited about this [job] because ___." No whining about being unemployed, because you chose it.

Should the Short-Term Job Be on Your Resume?

A resume is a marketing document so you're not required to put every job you've ever had on it. However, if you leave it off your resume, you'll have to explain what you were doing during that time, in which case you'll need to be honest. You can certainly leave it off your resume and then explain it by saying, "I took a job at Company X that wasn't a good fit and my experiences there don't apply to this position." But, leaving it on will probably be a better idea. If the application form asks for all positions, you'll need to list it.

One short-term job isn't the end of the world

Published on: Jan 26, 2017