3 Reasons A Dream Job Can Turn into a Nightmare

dream job

3 Reasons why a Dream job can turn into a Nightmare.

” The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it.” Steve Jobs.

Have you ever started a job and you walk into the office thinking you have found your dream job only for it to turn into a nightmare. Once you have realised that your unhappy fixing the situation can be difficult and finding your next opportunity may take time so the best action is to try and avoid the problem.

Generally when job hunting people search by job title, responsibilities, wage and location. Sometimes people may target specific companies based on branding and prestige. So what looked amazing on paper has turned out to be hell, here are 3 common reasons why that dream job turns into a nightmare and some tips to help avoid this.
Common reasons your dream job turns into a nightmare are: issues with your boss or leadership group, miss match with the company or team culture and if the job has been misrepresented or changes once you’re in it.


It is important to assess the job before you start, before you make a decision ask for the job description and if possible the business goals or key performance indicators ( KPI’s ). It is expected that you would want to understand the role so the next layer is to understand how the role fits into the company strategy going forward.

Whether you are starting a new job or moving into a new role with your current employer here are some questions which will help give you a better understanding:

• Why does this job exist?
• What are your expectations of me in my first three months in this position?
• How will you measure my success after a year in this job?
• How does this job fit within the department or division?
• What do you think my greatest challenge will be in this job?
• What are my top three most important business priorities in this job?’

If they are unable to provide clarity regarding these questions see if you have any contacts which might know who worked in the job before and where or why did they leave? If it’s a role within the same company you may even have the opportunity to speak with that person and ask their advice re what the job was like. Approach this with sensitivity and caution if the opportunity arises.

So at this stage you are still loving the look of the opportunity. A lot of the questions may have been answered by your new manager which should also give you an understanding of their communication style.

2. The Manager.

Most people feel uncomfortable “interviewing” their future manager but it’s important to remember that this person is crucial to your success in your job. So just like you put on your best effort for the interview, they are doing the same especially if there are multiple people interviewing.
If your prospective manager is abrupt, disorganised, insensitive or appears uninterested during the interview, this behavior will mostly likely be how they are every day. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of concerns as on paper the opportunity is too good to miss but the interview process offers the chance to uncover a little of your managers style.

If you find yourself telling friends you found the dream job but the manger who interviewed me was a bit abrupt, remember its what comes after the BUT which can turn into a nightmare.

Here are some questions which might help you understand a little more about them.

• How would you describe your ideal working relationship?
• What about your work keeps you up at night? How would I help you with the solution to this challenge?
• How do you like to communicate and receive information from the people who report to you? How often?
• What should I realistically expect from you as my manager? What is your work style?
• Who was the best boss you ever had and why?
• What are your top three values?

Some of these are tough questions to ask; however an individual’s willingness to answer the questions and what they say in itself shows you their communication style and if you can work with them. Most interviews ask if you have any questions and this is an ideal time to find out more information. Start with the least challenging, ensure your tone and approach is respectful and be flexible to go with the conversation flow.
If the job is within your existing organisation you may be able to speak to people who work for them or have done so in the past. If it is with a new organisation LinkedIn is a great tool to see if you have any mutual connections which might be able to help.

Invest a little time in understanding your manager as working for someone with whom we don’t get along can be a nightmare!


Do your values and beliefs match or fit. Have a clear understanding of your values and this will help guide you with what questions to ask at the interview or via your network.

For example: You find your dream job and on paper the company values aligned, but it becomes very evident within weeks of starting that these values were not upheld and unless you engaged in a drinking social culture you miss out on strategic conversations and alliances. You get emails with issues discussed with staff after the friday night drinks and you see people get opportunities based on drinking buddies.

On refection a selling point in the interview was the team culture, if questioned further you may have discovered that this revolved around parties and alcohol. You don’t drink and have family commitments so do you fit with the culture?
How do you assess a company’s culture? By asking lots of questions;

• How would you describe how people get promoted?
• What about your work place makes you want to stay or get friends to work there?
• How are people rewarded? Do you think its fair?
• What are the top three values? and how do you see them expressed at work?

Check your network and see if you can meet with someone who already works there; arrive early for the interview and sit in the reception area and observe; look at the company’s Web site, marketing materials and annual report.

Every work environment has its own culture and remember you spend a significant amount of your waking time at work. If you fit into a company’s culture – the values employees share, the way people communicate and dress, the behaviors that are accepted – then you probably will have a good working experience.

If you’ve already had an experience where you went to work for a company and realized you didn’t fit into the culture, you know how painful this can be. Learning how to identify the right culture for you is easy to do if you ask the right questions and rely on your intuition.

In Summary,

Being happy at work is more than a job title, location and money, your dream job also depends on your boss, daily tasks and the company culture.

Be prepared before you sign up for a role and be prepared that if you do find yourself in a situation that is making you very unhappy and you can’t seem to change it, don’t stay in the nightmare. Take control and make plans to get out and maybe leave a little wiser than when you started.

Wishing you luck in your careers and future job hunts.


About the Author.

Lisa Blades is Executive Coach for a boutique agency Phoenix Executive Coaching. She loves helping people manifest their dreams and take control back of their career.

To view other blogs by Lisa please visit, Executive ZAP

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