Dear J.T. & Dale: I am crying every day in this job and regret joining. I don’t get any clear direction. Should I tell my manager or just suck it up? I’d move to another team, but they have a rule that you have to stay 12 months before transferring and I’ve only been here five months. I thought about asking HR to bend the policy for me because I’m miserable. Thoughts? — Hayley
DALE: As for going to HR, they are the Keepers of the Rules, so I think it unlikely that they are willing to bend them. But, because J.T. worked in HR, I’ll defer to her.
J.T.: Going to HR will be a waste of your time. They have no control over this. They’ll just find a replacement for you when you leave.
DALE: And your leaving may be soon. The first thing to recognize is that if you’re miserable, your managers have sensed that something is amiss. It’s unlikely they’re blaming themselves; rather, they are probably skeptical about your future with the company. If you go in and complain, they’re likely to agree that you’re in the wrong place and tell you to leave. You do not want this. It’s harder to find a new job if you’re unemployed and it’s rarely a good play to tell a prospective employer about how you hated your previous employer.
J.T.: However, I think you can go to your manager and, without complaining, just say that you are struggling to adapt and that you aren’t comfortable working without clear instruction. If the manager says there is nothing they can do, then start looking for a new job immediately. Not all work environments are good for everyone. It’s okay for you to say that this type of work style doesn’t play to your strengths and that you need something different to thrive. Better to figure it out now rather than later!
DALE: But it’s better to not be fired. So, no matter what they say when you meet with management, tell them that you’re going to work it out and just need a chance to adjust. Buy yourself time to find a place with work that fits you.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I left my job in 2016 to take care of my parents so they didn’t have to go into a retirement home. They both passed in 2020. Then, I did day-trading full-time. Now I am trying to get a job, but nobody wants to hire me. What can I say to get them to consider me? — Ron
DALE: It’s admirable that you took care of your parents, and I think you’ll find that most hiring managers will agree. The challenge is getting in front of hiring managers to tell that uplifting story.
J.T.: Yes, the ATS doesn’t have a heart. (That’s the Applicant Tracking System that most larger companies use.) The system will see that you haven’t been an employee for six years and screen you out. Even so, it might help to list 2016-2020 as a “sabbatical” on your resume, with the simple explanation that you were a full-time caregiver. Also, list day-trading as “self-employed.”
DALE: Still, getting through screening is unlikely, so the solution, as it so often is, is networking.
J.T.: Exactly. You need to reach out to employers directly. Getting people who work there to introduce you to hiring managers and sharing your transferable skills makes it easier for them to consider you. What you lack in direct experience, you need to make up for with stories of how you’ll use your transferable skills and passion for what they do to drive you to succeed.
DALE: Nevertheless, you’re going to face reluctance based on your years out of the workplace. You need to reassure employers that your skills are up-to-date, so make sure to read publications in your field, and then devote massive effort to reconnecting with former colleagues and talk about the latest trends in your career — not only will you then know what you need to know, that will be your best networking opportunity.
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) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.