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When you're faced with new-job regrets: Should you stay or go?

Expert says a quarter of recently hired workers deal with 'acceptance remorse,' Here's how to handle the situation.

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After working in public relations in Washington, D.C., for many years, Vicky Jaffe wanted to relocate to New England. The prospect of a position as vice president of public affairs for a New Hampshire bank sounded appealing.

So appealing, in fact, that she ignored a "funny feeling" about the job before she accepted the offer.

"During the interview, my future boss said, 'How do you feel about inputting data?' " Ms. Jaffe recalls. "It struck me as odd, but I said, 'I'm happy to be a team player. I'll work on anything.' "

But when she started working, she realized she had made a mistake. "The title was high-level but the job wasn't," she says. "It was terrible. I ended up just doing very mundane things."

That experience put Jaffe in the company of an estimated 25 percent of workers who regret taking a new position within the first year, according to outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Even Katie Couric hinted in a recent interview with New York magazine that her move from hosting the "Today" show to anchoring the "CBS Evening News" might have been a mistake.

With so many newly hired workers singing the "uh-oh" blues, more employers and job counselors want to help prospective employees avoid "acceptance remorse."

Sometimes a new employee's initial misgivings are simply part of the transition. "It is natural to have second thoughts in the first month or two of any new job," says CEO John Challenger. "Any type of major change elicits such thoughts, whether it is taking a new job, moving into a new house, or buying a new car."

But if feelings of regret persist after six months, he suggests discussing the situation with a supervisor. He also encourages "in-depth soul-searching about what matters most to you in a job and then listing where your current job succeeds and fails at meeting your expectations." If the gap between pluses and minuses is significant, the job may be impossible to salvage.


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