You’ve finally completed a month’s worth of interviews and have a great job offer but should you accept it? There could be warning signs that you missed or you could be anxious to get that job with the company of your dreams. In this tight labor market job candidates have an opportunity to really think about what’s important to them for a successful career.

Rebecca, after interviewing for a month and half with a technology company in Cambridge, finally had her job offer. Rather than offer her the job she interviewed for she was offered a Director’s position with a nice sign on bonus and a bigger salary. “I was thrilled, ” she later recalled, “I went out to celebrate with my friends over dinner as this was a dream come true”. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of a nightmare.

She told me “I arrive for my first day of work with a really great welcome kit on my desk consisting of my new laptop, smart phone, iPad along with some tee shirts and a company messenger bag”.

“When I first logged onto my email I had over 100 emails. I tried to sort through them as fast as I could, but by the time I was done it was well after 7:30PM. I noticed that, as I packed up to go home for the day that most of my coworkers were still at their desks. That should have been my first warning sign, ” she would tell me.

The next day she thought she would get an early start, but when she sat down at her desk early that morning she found that most everyone was already at work. She needed to concentrate, but the open office environment made it difficult so she went to an enclave to “really dig into some issues”. Her quiet time was cut short when she received a call on her cell phone from HR informing her that “her two interns were ready to be picked up”. “I didn’t know anything about it and when I asked my manager about it, he said he forgot to tell me that I had two interns for the summer”.

Rebecca had over 10 years experience and was used to working in a fast paced environment, but she seemed to be playing catch up since day one. That first week she also had a meeting to discuss online analytics with the analytics team. The manager in charge of the meeting had suggested they use an outside web analytics company at a cost of more than $300,000 per year. “The reasons he gave for making this choice were no accurate and in the meeting I told him that Google analytics would be a much better choice”. The manager seemed taken back, but Rebecca was glad to get her point of view heard.

Later that day a meeting with her manager popped up on her calendar. “I didn’t think it was any big deal” but she soon learned that her manager was not, as she put it “not happy” with my performance at the meeting. “He said that I shouldn’t have challenged a senior manager in an open forum” and that he “had complained to his manager who in turn complained to her manager”. My attitude was “live and learn” but on Monday, with a scheduled meeting with her HR rep she found out that she had received a “verbal warning” that had been documented with HR. “There are so many things that went through my head at that time that it’s hard to remember them all but I was determined to fit in and excel in this position”.

But wait, things get worse.

A week later Rebecca sent out an email to people in the company about implementing a new content strategy. Within an hour of sending out the email her boss called her into his office and told her that instead of sending out the email she should have “called a meeting and met with people in person”. Again she was taken back, especially since her boss did not want to hear her side and did nothing to “back me up”.

Later that day she ran into her HR rep at the coffee counter and was shocked when her HR rep said “we need to talk about that second verbal warning later”. That was it for her. “I remember thinking how chickenshit this all was and then when she learned that three verbal warnings meant dismissal she finally had enough. “At 3PM, later that day I sent my resignation to HR and my manager with one day notice”. Her manager wanted to talk with her, but she responded “get on my calendar, I’m pretty booked”.

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Rebecca took two weeks off before even thinking about looking for a new job. Within a month she had three offers from three very good companies, but this time she really did her homework. “What was most important to me was my manager, ” she told me. “I want to work for a manager who, I felt, could lead me to excel and learn”.

Unfortunately the Rebecca’s story is not unique. There are still a lot of very bad companies out there with managers who are totally unqualified for the job. Her ex-manager has tried to reach out to her via email and LinkedIn, but she is not having any of it. “I made a mistake in accepting a position with a great title and salary but “now I know that what is really important is being happy enough to do great work”

Originally published at on July 9, 2017.

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