Every year Forbes releases a list of the best companies to work for and Internet start-ups like Google, Twitter, AirBnB and Facebook continue to make those lists. These companies have become the model for what a perfect workplace utopia looks like. Vibrant employees, exciting work and amazing benefits make positions at these companies coveted and competitive. However, recently there has been an influx of people leaving these “perfect” jobs. How could it be possible for people to quit working at a place like AirBnB? Taylor Yarborough knows exactly what its like to discover that her “dream job” wasn’t the perfect place for her.
In the advertising world Ogilvy is considered one of the best agencies to work for and the best place to start a career in the advertising industry. The office culture, the client work and the reputation is what attracted Taylor to the company when she was a junior at Spelman. “It just seemed like the place where I needed to be. It was a big creative space, but it was corporate so it came with all of the amenities and perks that a large organization like it provides.” She applied for their summer internship and worked in the New York office before entering her senior year. She loved it so much that she secured an internship in Ogilvy’s Atlanta office during her last year in college, which later turned into a full-time job opportunity upon graduation.
She began to notice the difference between the New York office in comparison to the Atlanta office. “The accounts were different, the office culture was so much different, I started to think maybe I do like Ogilvy, but I just prefer the New York office better,” Taylor explained.
She really started feeling frustrated about her situation once she became a full-time employee. “It did not align with what I wanted to do within the advertising and marketing space and the cultural fit wasn’t clicking for me either,” she said. It did not take long for Taylor to feel that this dream place was not her dream anymore. “I really thought that I would work there for the rest of my life,” she shared. After an attempt to transfer to another office location, Taylor took a leap of faith and put in her month’s notice without securing another job offer. “I had to let the dream go that this was the only place for me, because it’s not true," Taylor explained.
We went to college, interned and networked our way to get into the places that seemed like it would be the perfect fit for our career goals and lifestyle. It happens to the best of us, but then we quickly discover that the position and company that we worked so hard to gain employment with isn’t what we imagined it would be. We start to go over it in our heads: I thought this was the place for me, but it’s not. What do I do now and how do I figure out what’s next for me? It’s a struggle when you have to come to terms that your perfect job isn’t so perfect after all. But before you throw in the towel, here are some ways to combat “perfect job syndrome” in your next job search:
DON'T BE BLINDSIDED BY THE HYPE
Crystal Marsh is a Millennial career coach based out of Los Angeles. The former attorney weighed in on the topic of "perfect job syndrome" and offered some advice for those searching for the perfect job. “I think people put certain companies on a pedestal because of brand familiarity. It’s a company that they know and love, so you imagine that it’s going to be an amazing place to work. A lot of these companies are a great place to work, but it doesn’t necessarily make it the great place for you or even a cultural fit for you. It might not align with your skill sets and gifts,” she explained.
As consumers, we fall in love with brands like Pepsi, Google and Twitter. Name recognition excites us and the people around us when we work at these cool brands. I remember the reaction and favoritism that I would receive at networking events when I worked for particular companies based on brand familiarity. The last part of my work email got me into many rooms that I wouldn’t be able to get in otherwise and afforded me many perks, but those places might not have been the right cultural fit for me. Just because we have an understanding and appreciation for these exciting brands from a consumer point-of-view, doesn’t always mean that working for the brand will be the perfect fit for us. Don't let the popularity of the brand, blind you from what your true career goals are. Perks and benefits are great, but those incentives won't elevate your passion or your purpose.
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DISCOVER COMPANY CULTURE BEFORE APPLYING
I’ve applied to many places when I was desperate for employment, not caring whether the company would actually fit my needs. It left me feeling like I wasted months and even years in a space that didn’t align with my career goals. After feeling like I had to start over again way too many times, I started to be particular about the places I applied to. I started to be proactive about my needs from a company by having informational interviews.
“If there is a company that you really want to work for and you admire the brand make sure you learn the cultural fit of the company. Be clear on how employees feel about it as well. Informational interviews are really great, but its even better if you can get an information interview with a former employee. There’s the chance that you can get more of the real scoop from someone who is no longer working for the company,” Crystal says.
MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Starting a new job is exciting because it’s making that first step towards your goals and earning a livelihood. However, while stepping in the door of your first job you should remember to be open minded and accepting to the things that you discover about the culture and the employees you will be working for. Not everything you encounter that first week is going to impress you.
“When you start [the jobs] almost seem perfect, but I think I didn’t do a good job managing my own expectations so after a couple of weeks I thought maybe this isn’t perfect. I think I may have enjoyed myself more, if I accepted that a little bit more. A job can be great, it can be rewarding, it can be challenging but perfection wasn’t something that I was likely to find,” Crystal said.
Manage your expectations and open yourself up to your new job. Remember you were hired to help turn issues into profits and help fill the voids that could make efficiencies better. The very thing that concerns you about the new gig can be the very thing you change for the better.
FOCUS YOUR ENERGY INTO BUILDING YOUR STRENGTHS
If you get to a place where you are ready to move on to another opportunity, find ways to get through the day without feeling sad, annoyed and disappointed by your situation. It can be hard, but there are ways to take that negative energy and put it towards something positive. Crystal suggests that you work on a skill that you struggle with at work and become great at it before you leave your job.
“One of the easiest things to do if you are not enjoying your work is to take one area that you are really struggling in and focus everything you can do to make it better. I had a client who didn’t particular know how to use Excel. So every time she had an assignment she wrote down the task and worked on her skills. She became so go at the tasks that her colleagues asked her for help with Excel and it eventually made work more enjoyable for her. Her work became more valuable and she liked that she was being acknowledged for it.”
Before you leave make sure to make your mark on the company. Finding projects to work on will make the time go faster and improve your skill sets until another opportunity. Not only will you start you next job equipped with stronger work strengths, but you will also leave knowing that you contributed to the company in some shape or form.
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REMEMBER THERE IS A PLACE OUT THERE FOR YOU
It may take several attempts, but eventually you will figure out what type of career you want and what type of work environment is suitable for your needs. “There is definitely no such thing as a perfect job. There is a job that can be perfect for you. That can be a really great fit for you and can be enjoyable, but perfect I don’t think so. I think it is a little bit dangerous to even look for a perfect job. I think it leads to a lot of disappointment if you think that a job could possibly be perfect, “ Crystal said.
For some people entrepreneurship is the best place and situation for them to do the work that they love on their own terms. When Crystal worked as a lawyer she felt like she wasn’t using her potential, and it didn’t feel like the right fit for her. “One of my advice that I give my clients is to find work that aligns with who you really are and not just your passion. I made the transition to coaching once I realized this was something that I could do on a full-time basis. It’s been great having my own business. I like the flexibility,” she shared.
Don’t feel disappointed when your “dream job” doesn’t work out. It only means there is something bigger and better that awaits, but until you get there use these steps to avoid the perfect job syndrome.