By Kim Thore, Mobilization Manager, Global Client Enablement
I once reached out to a mentor when I was struggling in my career… I stated, “I’m not sure if this new job is the right fit- I like my manager and I love my team but the skills that I bring to the table aren’t being utilized as I thought they would. I’m wondering if I should change?”
His response? “You need to just stick with one company and not look at changing. Do the job you were hired for – not the one you want to do.”
And yes, that advice felt like it was duct taped to a dagger aimed at my heart.
In fairness my mentor was a boomer and I am Gen X and he has been in the same career for over three decades, so I am sure when he looks at my resume it gives him a headache. I’ve held careers in at least four different industries and I’ve always thought that my diverse experience was a plus.
However, for this role (which had become increasingly focused on research and analysis) what I knew I did well wasn’t being tapped into and areas that I felt were not my strongest were what was being requested. In the dressing room of corporate America, the color suited me, but it was the wrong size.
I discovered after the honeymoon (first 90 days) period was over that what I applied for was more of a “future state” position vs. the reality of what the corporation was facing in that moment in time. The job on paper was a great fit, but the job, in reality, was not. I was expected to report, report and report and not interpret or give direction.
Still, there were positive aspects in my role and my mentor had been a great resource for so many years that I paused for a moment. Could he be right? Was being happy in a career too much to ask for? Should I just do what was required even if it didn’t spark joy or a sense of accomplishment?
Sometimes when you least expect it, the universe sends you a message. For me, it was in the form of an art class that I was teaching a couple of years ago.
I showed up at the school of design and began a class I had been teaching since 2019 and the time flew by. I found myself smiling and feeding off the energy of my students who were excited to be there and excited to be learning new things. As I was packing up my laptop, I realized the last two hours had been fun and I felt a certain energy and exuberance that had been missing for some time.
You can never expect any role to be perfect. However, with as much time as we spend at our desks, shouldn’t our careers bring some joy? I didn’t want to do marketing research- at least not in the way the company wanted me to, and that 2 hours spent in an art class taught the teacher a big lesson. You will have bad days but staying in a job that doesn’t fit and brings dread every day is doing no one in that equation any favors. I was doing the job, but I wasn’t fully invested. The company was getting results for the projects we were assigned to but just that and no more. I’m not proud of that. I’m a 110%, perfectionist, all-in kind of employee and they were only getting a “meets expectations” leader. After a year and ½ I finally decided to leave, an action I am proud of. I didn’t wait till my performance declined. I gave ample notice and took a break to plan my next move.
My next role was a great fit and one of my favorite jobs I have ever had.
On the plus side, it also brought one of my favorite bosses and the job fit me like a bespoke suit.
I woke up every day excited to get into the office and do the job I wanted which was also the one I was hired for.