Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How to Take a Job Out for Test Drive

One time the transmission fell out of my car (this is bad, very bad), so I was forced to rent a car to get to and from work. I decided to rent a car that I had been considering for some time, with the idea that getting to test drive it for a while would help me make a decision.

It certainly did just that. After one day of driving that car, I didn't like it much. After a week of driving that rental car, I hated it. The leg room was nil. The controls belonged on a space shuttle. A tractor had better steering.

I was a bit disappointed that the car I had been dreaming about turned out to be a nightmare. At the same time, I was very glad that I had a chance to test drive it and see that it really wasn't a good fit.

Wouldn't it be great if we could do that with jobs? After one week, the supervisor says: "So, how do you like it?"

"Not so much," you say. "Think I'll move on."

"Okey dokey," says the supervisor.

Of course, sometimes people do quit after one week, but that's not always such a smart plan and can really look bad on a resume. Zappos does offer employees $2,000 to quit during training if the worker finds he or she isn't happy. The company figures it's better to cut their losses and find someone who wants to stay put.

But most of the time, we tell ourselves "It will get better" when we don't like a job. Or, "I need this job to pay off my student loans. I can survive."

Still, if you don't like your job or career path, there are steps you can take to find out where you might be happier. You can:

  • Do your homework. I have to admit that before I rented that car, I had done no research on it. I just saw it and thought, "Oh, that looks like a cool car. I think I want to get that." But if I had asked other owners and read reviews online, I would have heard some honest opinions about it. Now is the time to stop looking at the shiny exterior of a job or new career and start finding people to ask about it. Ask your connections on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or even industry forums what they like and don't like about their jobs. Then, keep drilling and ask for more information whenever you can.
  • Attend job fairs and industry events. You may sell yourself on a getting a new job or branching out into a new industry, until you attend a job fair and realize that the jobs are being mostly turned over to robots or the pay sucks. Industry conferences are a good way to hear about ongoing problems and challenges, and to listen to other attendees talk about the good and bad things happening in the field.
  • Get behind the wheel. I remember when blogging first came on the scene. Everyone thought they should start a blog, but after a few months, they found they couldn't find something to write about on a regular basis. They thought they liked writing until they realized they had to do it -- then they began to hate it. After a year or so, many of these blogs were abandoned. Try using some vacation or weekend time to try coding for eight hours a day. Or try selling some of your artwork through Etsy on a regular basis before quitting your current job. Whatever it is that appeals to you, try doing it on a regular basis and see how it feels after a while. You might like it, or you might be willing to abandon it by the side of the road.

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