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Why We Make Bad Job Decisions

August 21st, 2019

Have you ever been disappointed in a new job? Lots of people are. Multiple surveys tell us that 3-in-10 new hires quit in the first 6 months. An astounding 16% quit in the first week. "Buyer's remorse" leads some to simply not show up for their new job, which has given rise to the growing "ghosting" phenomenon.

Most of us, though, don't ghost and we don't quit. We may be unhappy in the job, yet we stick it out.

What happened for the bloom to come off the rose? The short answer is we made a bad decision. But, how did that happen?

An article on the Harvard Business Review with the provocative title "Why Are We So Bad at Choosing the Right Job?" gives us some answers:

  • We're influenced by the money. " Even when people say that they would happily take a pay cut if they could work less, commute less, or have a more enjoyable job, they often don’t actually make those choices, and prefer to stick to the higher salary."
  • We're good at tolerating bad jobs. "When it comes to jobs and careers, it is really a case of 'better the devil you know.' You can put people in meaningless roles and under bad managers, and they will still be reluctant to try something else."
  • Poor self-awareness limits smart choices. "People are generally quite inept at evaluating their own talents. Even when they do decide to 'follow their passions' there is just no guarantee that they will end up doing something well, let alone that it is useful or in-demand."
  • It’s hard to know what to expect. Because organizations make an effort to market themselves and their jobs as attractively as possible, it can be difficult to match your skills and expectations.

Here's the advice the author gives for avoiding a bad job decision: In order to land the job you really want, you need to be clear about what you are good at, what the job in question is really like, and de-emphasize financial incentives to fulfill other values and career drivers. Above all, you will probably benefit from being less resilient so you are less likely to put up with a bad job or a bad boss."

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