You were so excited to start your new job—only now you’re discovering that it’s really not a great fit for you. You might be eyeing the door but wondering how to quit your new job without permanently damaging your career prospects.
After all, job-hopping is generally frowned upon by employers. They might hesitate to invest in someone with a track record of leaving as soon as another opportunity comes along. But the reality is that one job doesn’t make an entire history, and leaving a job that’s a poor fit might be the best thing you can do for your career in the long run.
If you find yourself in a new role that isn’t going to pan out, use the following tips to create your exit strategy.
Validate Your Reasons for Quitting
Maybe the role isn’t what you expected, or the company culture is toxic. Perhaps you’re just not cut out for that line of work. Whatever your reasons, it’s essential to make sure it’s not a temporary situation that you could work through.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your reasons are valid, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I in danger or feeling unsafe in any way?
- Am I being asked to do things that are illegal or unethical?
- Does this job go against my values or beliefs?
- Do I feel over my head and not qualified for this job?
- Is the work environment so toxic that it’s negatively impacting my mental health?
- Will I be miserable doing this in another five years?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s time to start looking for a new job. And if the job is causing you to feel unsafe or negatively impacting your health, you might need to leave before you have another job lined up.
When the Role Is Overwhelming (or Underwhelming)
On the other hand, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, or you’re not sure you’re cut out for the work, maybe give it some more time. You may need to adjust to the new role and get more comfortable with the team and responsibilities.
Maybe it’s the opposite issue. Did the job description portray the role as an opportunity to gain many skills you need for your career growth, and that doesn’t seem to be the case? If so, try and do a little reconnaissance and find out if perhaps you’re still in the foundational stage and those opportunities might still come down the road.
Either way, consider sitting down with your manager to discuss your concerns. Do your best to be professional and pragmatic. Leave your frustrations and emotions at the door and approach the conversation from a problem-solving perspective.
Realistically, it takes a lot of time and money to hire a new employee, so your manager likely wants you to succeed as well.
When You’ve Gotten a Better Job Offer
What do you do when an unexpected job opportunity pops up? If it’s your dream job or has fantastic potential for your career, then realistically, it’s probably best for your career if you take it.
When You’re Making a Career Change
There might come a time when you change jobs only to discover that it wasn’t the job that was a poor fit, but the entire industry isn’t where you’re thriving.
If you’re considering a career change—from marketing to being a teacher, for example—there’s no shame in starting over.
It’s all about how you present your job history and explain your decision during interviews. As long as you can validate your reasons for wanting to make a change and demonstrate that you’re committed to the new field, it’s unlikely that you’ll suffer significant career setbacks.
Create an Exit Strategy
If you’re leaving for any reason other than your safety, decide how and when you will leave.
Develop a Time Frame
If you’re able, start job searching while keeping your job. It might seem obvious, but do your best to keep your job search private. Avoid talking about it with your coworkers, and be strategic about how and where you post it online.
When you’re relatively new in a role, it’s unlikely that your current manager will continue investing in your training if they discover that you’re job searching. Discretion is your best ally in maintaining your income until you have a new job lined up.
Be Professional in Your Departure
Even if you didn’t enjoy your time at the company, it’s essential to be professional when departing. You never know who else in the industry your manager and teammates know. Being unprofessional can cause unforeseen complications that aren’t worth the negative career fallout.
When you do give notice, hand in your resignation letter in person—rather than sending an email, if possible—and ensure that you’re giving the information to your boss first. You don’t want them to hear it from someone else in the break room.
Be prepared for their disappointment (and possibly frustration) if you’re a recent hire. Remaining calm and professional can help keep the conversation on track.
Explore Any Necessary Damage Control
Once you’ve left, keep an eye out for any possible networking or overall career fallout that might result. This shouldn’t be an issue if you leave your job amicably and on good terms.
In some cases, it might make sense to do a bit of personal branding damage control by collecting positive testimonials on LinkedIn, gathering glowing reviews from previous managers, and ensuring that your social media presence is positive and polished.
Negative career fallout is more common when you’ve been let go from a position, so even if you quit on short tenure, there’s usually less risk involved.
When You’re Leaving a New Job
When you start a new job full of hope only to discover that it’s not a dream fit, it can be daunting to get back out there and start searching again. If there’s no way to thrive in your current role, take the time to ensure that your next role will be an excellent fit and then make a move, rather than resign yourself to a daily struggle.
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