Dear Matt: I've been working at my new job for about five months but it's not a good fit and it's not going well. But I was unemployed for six months before this and I need the paycheck. The thing is, if I'm let go I may still qualify for unemployment benefits. Is it better to quit instead of being terminated? As I look for a new job, should I include this present employer on my résumé?
Matt says: If you have a job and aren't happy with it, there are steps you can take to try to remedy the problem. If you do move on you don't need to worry about what future employers think if you are upfront and honest about the situation.
You are doing the right thing by starting to focus on your future. No one wants to be in a job where they are unhappy. My recommendation is to never quit until you have a new job lined up. It's hard enough to get a job in this economy -- you should at least be thankful you have one, no matter how much you dislike it. If you are eventually let go, you could be eligible for unemployment benefits. If you resign, you will not be eligible.
Honesty is always the best policy, said Haley Behrens, a recruiter with Top Talent Solutions (toptalentmn.com), a Minnesota-based, full-service staffing solutions company.
"Once you have a few interviews lined up, then it's time to be honest with your current employer," said Behrens. "Have a conversation with your manager or HR leader explaining the situation. They will respect you for being brave enough to come to them.
"There are two scenarios that will take place. Either they agree that things are not working out and there is a mutual separation date agreed upon, or they will work with you to determine a plan of action to improve the situation. Either way, there is no hostility or negativity produced. If you do in fact quit you will have a positive story to share with a potential employer, and they too will applaud you for your honesty. You are showing them that you are able to accept a situation, take responsibility for it, and work hard to change it for the better."
The same goes with your résumé. Don't be afraid to include your old job -- but be prepared to talk about it in an interview.
"Be honest and list the most recent employment/employer," said Behrens. When asked about it in your interview, "provide the positive story of how you handled the situation and what you learned from it. Remain confident, be who you are, and be proud of it."
Matt Krumrie is a Twin Cities freelance writer specializing in career advice.