Career Paths

Should you Quit that New Job?

min read
Mikaela Thompson

It may have been your dream job on paper...but what happens when the dream turns out to be a living nightmare from the get go? Do you tough it out or cut your losses?

Have you ever felt that adrenaline rush of anticipation and excitement that comes with having clinched a new job…only to have your heart thrust into the depths of utter disillusion and panic when you realize this is a completely different role and/or work environment than the ones you thought you’d applied for? This, the equivalent of buyer’s remorse for job seekers, is surprisingly, more common than you’d think.

What does the research tell us?

A Glassdoor survey found 6 in 10 employees discovered their new job to be significantly different to the expectations set at the interview. HR specialist, Lynda Spiegel, likened job interviews to first dates where everyone's on their best behaviour since both sides are trying to sell themselves. Of course, this means, neither side will be upfront about their less appealing attributes. So, it’s not surprising that the reality of a job, or a candidate’s attributes, can be different to their representation at an interview. Common areas of dissatisfaction, to new disgruntled employees, are employee morale, job responsibilities and work hours.

But, as we all know, quitting a job isn’t an easy process. Most of us start to panic over whether we will be burning our bridges or fear it’s better the devil you know. Added to this, are practical concerns, such as, how we’d fare financially if finding a new job takes a while and how to quit a newly secured job without raising doubts about yourself as a future employee. Combined, these factors make quitting a job a major headache.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics research tells us that the average length of job tenure is 4.2 years although this is somewhat age dependent e.g., workers between the ages of 25 to 34, have an average of 3.2 years. In an ideal world, employees should stay a minimum of 2 years in a job to benefit from it. However, there can be circumstances in which a job has become untenable and your departure is necessary for your well-being, or you find yourself suddenly made redundant – especially in the present, unpredictable Covid-19 business climate. This brings me to my main point, how can you limit the negative effects of leaving a job after a few weeks or months?

Tips for containing the damage related to quitting a new job:

1) Don’t be rash! Give the new job and company a chance. New jobs bring new anxiety-producing challenges. Give it at least 3 to 6 months for you to find your place within the company and feel at ease with the job responsibilities. Show your willingness to work through issues in a professional manner by meeting with your boss. Express your feelings and ask what to do about them. This should help to minimize the fallout from your resignation later, as well as, serving as some forewarning for the company.

2) Once you’ve decided the best way forward is to quit, it’s wise to find a new job before handing in your notice. It’s easier to secure a new position if you’re already employed. Make sure you’re not vulnerable to repeating the same mistake. Focus on the right job and company for you to thrive and reach your career goals. Don’t be tempted to take the first job offer as a means of escaping your current situation.

3) Be calculating about the best time for you to make such a decision or even to make it at all. For instance, most people have ongoing financial commitments, like mortgages/rent, living expenses etc., so sustained periods without an income can’t be weathered without ruin. Typically, it takes 3 to 6 months to find a new job and anywhere from a week to several months’ notice, depending on your contract stipulation. Many times, you can be faced with a dilemma of the new job needing you to start before your notice has been served. Added to that, leaving a job before finishing your notice period, can often result in penalties, such as, having to pay back the sign-on bonus, relocation benefits etc.!

4) Be mindful of the ramifications of resigning unexpectedly to keep your reputation intact within the industry. Once a reputation is lost, it’s very hard to restore. For example, you will want to avoid being blacklisted and blocked from future jobs with that company or its associates. Be professional in the manner in which you resign E.g. do it in person with your boss and present a well-written, typed resignation letter. You don’t necessarily have to give reasons, but it would be pertinent to assure your boss that you wish no ill-will to the company and hope for a smooth transition. Ask him how s/he’d like your colleagues to be informed…. especially since they’re likely to have to pick up your workload until a new employee is found.

5) Keep a positive, courteous tone and don’t ‘check out’ mentally once your resignation has been accepted or during the notice period. Your professionalism is your reputation, don’t undermine it! Perform at 100% until your notice period expires. This will help you retain your standing within your business community.

6) Having one brief permanent job on your work history probably won’t be a cause for a prospective employer to be alarmed. On the other hand, a smattering of these through your resume, would be a serious concern! To limit the impact of this short-lived experience, it’s best to address this with an interviewer/recruiter by offering reasons for this outcome. Even better, would be to put a positive spin on it by explaining what you’ve learnt from this experience and how it will make you a better employee for them E.g. it’s clarified what you want from a job and future employer. Then relate this to why the current position is the right fit and you’re an ideal candidate for them.

7) Don’t lose your professional confidence because one job didn’t work out. Everyone makes mistakes. Quitting isn’t the end of the world. Remind yourself, you successfully landed the current job. You must, therefore, have some desirable skills and attributes which will be on-hand for your next job search.

Check out more advice to help you navigate your employment journey here:

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