Sometimes that new job you wanted so badly is a letdown. Here’s what to do.

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You have a new job.

Maybe it’s one you went to school for years to become qualified for. Maybe you’ve been unemployed (or underemployed) for a scary amount of time and have just now landed decent, well-paying work. Maybe, after too long in the trenches, your company has finally kicked you upstairs into a management position.

Congratulations are in order, right?

Well, usually. Sometimes the job we yearned and strived for turns out to be a major disappointment. We feel awful. Even foolish. We wonder if there is anything that can be done, all the while fearing that the answer is no.

Fret not. You don’t have to be miserable. You can act.

First, determine if the problem is by definition temporary. For example, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed when starting anything new. You may simply not like the feeling of incompetence that comes with being the newbie, or you have somehow gotten off on the wrong foot. Give the job, and yourself, time.

On the other hand, perhaps what you don’t like about your new job is baked into the position. There’s too much time sitting at a desk, say, or you find that you really don’t like the sales part of your sales manager job (you thought you would, but you don’t).

In this case it’s worth exploring ways the position can be adapted to be more in line with your goals, skills, likes/dislikes, and preferred work style. Remember that hiring is also a risk and expense for employers; it’s to their benefit as well as yours to make it work. So talk with your boss. A few tweaks can make a big difference.

Either way, do definitely make a list of the pros and cons of your new job, ranking them in terms of importance. If the pros are considerable (increased salary, potential for advancement) they may well outweigh the cons (horrible commute, unpleasant co-workers). Give it your best thought.

Finally, take heart in the knowledge that your dilemma is not all that unusual. Starting a new job is hard. In fact, over a third of new hires quit within the first six months. So remain professional. Don’t act in haste. If you do end up leaving, do it courteously and wisely.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at