Dear J.T. & Dale: I just graduated from college and I was so desperate for a job that I took the first one that came along. I didn’t understand what I was getting into, and it’s hard-core sales. I absolutely hate sales and dread going to work. However, if I quit, I won’t have any income. Plus, my parents are telling me it looks really bad to quit a job a month in. What should I do? – Kendall
J.T.: Believe it or not, this is common. I can’t tell you how many college grads head into jobs that turn out to be a poor fit. Also, a lot of times, these employers aren’t really forthright about what the job entails because they know, once they get you in the job, you’ll be stuck there for a bit. Sounds like that might be the case here. I know it’s hard, but you’re going to have to find a new job before you can quit this one. Welcome to the world of work. You’re learning an important lesson, which is to ask a lot of questions and make sure you are 100% clear on what the job entails. The good news is you’ll likely never make this mistake again.
DALE: Yes, you’ll need to start a new job search, but while you’re stuck there, let your enemy be your Buddha. By that, I mean that there’s wisdom to be gained from doing sales. As I learned long ago from legendary sales coach Tom Hopkins, the best salespeople aren’t the stereotypical “interesting extroverts,” but rather, they are “interested introverts,” people who are masters of listening and of creative problem-solving. And, hey, you’re going to need those sales skills to take into your new job search. Remember: Questions are the answer. As you interview for the next job, be sure to inquire about, “What kind of people do best here?” and “What would a typical day be like?” And don’t be afraid to ask to meet some of the people you’d work with and garner insights from them – the best employers want employees shamelessly committed to finding a great fit.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’ve been out on maternity leave and am scheduled to go back to work in a couple of weeks. I was pregnant all through COVID-19 and did my work remotely. I want to propose working remotely part-time for now and then maybe go full-time. But, as I understand it, they could say no and then that would mean I was quitting the job and I wouldn’t be able to collect unemployment. What suggestions can you provide to help me get my employer to see this is a good idea? – Randi
DALE: This issue will not be a surprise to your management – it seems like half the people we’re hearing from these days are asking how to keep working remotely. So, no need to go in issuing ultimatums and thus risk “quitting.” No, you start by asking if the company is considering any work-at-home options or any hybrid work possibilities.
J.T.: How you approach this has a lot to do with the relationship that you have with your boss and how much they value your work as an employee. The more they value you, the more likely they are to make exceptions for you. Additionally, you have to understand that whatever they agree to for you would mean it would be available to others. So please don’t be upset if they say no, because policies do matter. I would make a list of all the ways you became far more effective while working from home during the pandemic. I would show them how much work you would be able to get done during the part-time hours. And then I would set a meeting to make the case and ask them if they would be willing to let you work part-time. The worst they can say is no. Just be sincere in your ask – and Dale’s right, it’s an “ask,” not a demand – while showing them how productive you’ll be.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2021 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.