Quitting a job you just started can be quite a stressful process, and many professionals do whatever they can to avoid it.
But what if it must be done?
This guide will go over how to quit a job you just started, plus some valid reasons for doing so.
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Acceptable Reasons to Leave a Job You Just Started
Getting hired for what you thought was a great job opportunity can be a lengthy process. During that time, you’ll learn a lot about the company and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be an employee.
But despite all that preparation and lead-up, things can happen that change your mind and make you realize that quitting is the best choice for your career, health, and needs.
While quitting a job you just started can feel like you’re bailing out, there are many acceptable reasons to do so. Here are a few of them.
Toxic work environments are one of the most common (and acceptable) reasons to quit a job you just started. It’s only possible to get a true perspective about a workplace once you dive headfirst into it. Hiring managers always put their best foot forward when showing candidates around the office, and it might not always be an accurate representation of what it’s like to be an employee.
Whatever the case, it usually doesn’t take long to see how things really are. A bad first day isn’t a valid reason to quit on the spot, but if you notice a cycle of toxicity weeks or months into your job, don’t be afraid to leave for the sake of your mental health.
When people talk about a toxic work environment, it can refer to many things. You may be dealing with colleagues who like to bully and gossip, a lack of communication from higher-ups, overall negativity, constant sources of stress, and more. Those experiences can weigh heavy on you, putting your mental health (and even physical health) at risk. Plus, it makes it difficult to do your best work.
It’s wise to consider quitting if you don’t think you can succeed in a company due to its environment. Imagine yourself working in that environment for years. If you don’t think it’s right for you, you’re within your right to leave for greener pastures even if you just started.
Health or Family Issues
Your health and the health of your family should always come first. The timing isn’t great, but these issues can arise anytime. It shouldn’t matter how recently you started your job. When you need to take care of personal health matters, you should feel confident in doing so.
Whether you have to take care of an ill parent or were personally just diagnosed with a health issue that you must prioritize, those are all valid reasons to quit a job you just started.
But before you do, have a chat with HR. Many companies are accommodating to these unique issues and can find workarounds to help you manage your priorities without you needing to resign. However, quitting may be the best option for you and your family if that isn’t possible.
It might come off as unprofessional, but there’s no shame in quitting a job you just started for a better opportunity. You might start your new job before receiving an offer that provides better pay, more compelling benefits, and an overall experience that aligns with your career aspirations.
When that happens, you should take it! Great job opportunities don’t come around all the time, and any chance to benefit your career is worth taking in the long run.
While many career experts talk about company loyalty, conversations are changing. More people prioritize long-term career moves over staying with a company for decades.
It’s great if you work for a company that offers many opportunities to climb that ladder. But if you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with making big moves on your own. Sometimes, that requires you to quit a job you just started to grasp better opportunities that come your way. But of course, you’ll want to do this professionally (more on that later).
Relocation is another acceptable reason to quit a job you just started. Perhaps you have to make a sudden move you weren’t planning to make any time soon. Your partner might get a job offer elsewhere, or you may make the decision to move closer to your family.
Unless you’re working a remote job or can transition into a remote opportunity where you currently work, you likely have no choice but to quit. But remember, it may be worth having a chat with HR. If you work for a larger company with offices in different cities, you may have the option to transfer to another branch.
How to Quit a Job You Just Started
Quitting a job you just started can feel a bit uncomfortable. It’s a big decision with a few risks we’ll get into later.
But if you’re set on departing your job and you have a good reason for doing so, here’s how you navigate this delicate situation without burning bridges.
1. Be Sure That You’re Serious
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re 100 percent serious about this decision. This isn’t a choice you want to make on the spot. Give it all the thought it deserves!
Many people walk into a new job feeling overwhelmed or less than welcome. That’s normal, and it can take time to get into the swing of things. What you don’t want to do is make a rash decision based on a few uncomfortable days.
If the reason you want to quit a job you just started is based on the work environment, the best advice is to give it a few weeks to find your groove. Making this tough decision because of a few unpleasant experiences usually isn’t the best idea.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your gut feeling. If you must quit for your mental health or because of other pressing reasons, don’t be afraid to say that you want out. However, make sure you think things through and determine that it’s the best choice for you and your career.
There’s nothing worse than resigning and regretting it later. Exhaust your other options, give this decision ample thought, and ensure that you’re confident that it’s the right path for you.
2. See If There Are Better Options Within the Same Company
Once you decide that you need to quit, don’t jump the gun just yet. See what other options are available within your company.
The organization has already invested time and resources into getting you onboard. In many cases, they’ll be willing to work with you to find solutions.
For example, they may be open to letting you move teams or shift departments to get into a work environment that’s better for you. Alternatively, they may give you a choice to take time off while you deal with personal matters. Some companies can even relocate you to another office location in a different city or let you work remotely!
You never know until you speak with a member of HR to see what’s available. In some cases, you can even negotiate a better salary. If you’re leaving due to better opportunities, the company may make a counteroffer to encourage you to stay.
Have those discussions and see what’s possible!
3. Begin Your Job Search
One of the most challenging aspects of quitting a job you just started is reentering the job market. If you already have a job offer lined up, you don’t have to worry about this. But if you’re quitting due to a toxic work environment or personal reasons, you may not have something ready to go.
Before you quit, begin your job search. It’s much easier to resign when you know that you’re financially capable of doing so and have some options.
It may take some time to get another offer, but quitting is far better when you have another opportunity ready.
4. Write Your Letter of Resignation
Generally, it’s better to meet with your employer in person (it’s more professional). However, having those meetings is not always possible. You may have a tough time fitting something into your employer’s busy schedule. Alternatively, you may want to avoid in-person meetings to prevent conflict.
Either way, you’ll need to have something in writing. Whether you have a meeting or not, a letter of resignation is necessary. It becomes part of your official employment record there and can come in handy should you need to prove your correspondence.
Letters of resignation should always be professional. Outline your responsibilities, express gratitude for the opportunity, and provide details about your departure. You can give a reason for quitting so soon after you started, but you don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty.
Don’t use this letter to express all of your feelings about your experience. It’s better to keep it concise and unemotional.
5. Provide Notice Ahead of Time
It’s a professional courtesy to provide at least two weeks’ notice. That gives employers enough time to hire someone new, find others to cover your responsibilities, and start off-boarding.
You may be in a challenging situation where you want to quit on the spot. But as we mentioned earlier, you should give this decision some thought and avoid any rash decision-making. Leaving with anything less than two weeks’ notice can harm your professional reputation and cause unnecessary conflict. Of course, this does not apply if you’re in an unsafe working environment.
If you have another job lined up, discuss the timeline with your new employer to keep everyone on the same page. The last thing you want is to assume that you have plenty of time to quit before realizing that the new job opportunity is time-sensitive. Talk with your new employer and work out a timeline that benefits both companies.
6. Do Good Work Until You Leave
Here’s an important thing to remember: Continue doing an excellent job until your final day. After providing your letter of resignation, you may not be emotionally or professionally invested in your position. But that’s not an excuse to do shoddy work.
Again, it all comes down to avoiding drama, keeping professional bridges intact, and just being professional. Coasting during those last two weeks will make your employer regret hiring you. It’s a source of resentment that will only harm you moving forward.
You still want references and a positive working relationship with the company. You can still make a good impression and leave on a high when quitting a job you just started. Do what you can to produce fantastic work in the short time you have left.
Wrap up any work projects you started, update your colleagues, and leave your job with your employer wishing you stayed.
7. Get Ready for an Exit Interview
One of the last things you might need to do at this job is an exit interview. While not a part of every organization, larger companies often perform exit interviews. During this meeting, you’ll go over contracts and have a relatively earnest discussion with HR about why you’re departing.
Companies use exit interview questions to make improvements across the board. What you say during this meeting matters, and it could lead to changes for employees.
Our biggest tip here is to remain calm and keep things professional. It’s easy to get emotional and inflammatory during exit interviews. Feel free to express your reasons for quitting, but you should do so tactfully.
It’s a good idea to prepare what you want to say beforehand. Decide what feedback you want to give and what you want to leave out. You have no obligation to tell HR everything, and it’s ultimately your choice on what you want to say.
Whatever you do, remain calm and professional. This is your last interaction with the company, and it could impact the impression you leave behind.
Potential Downsides of Quitting a Job You Just Started
There’s no way around it, quitting a job you just started comes with some risk. There are many valid reasons for wanting to depart after only a short time with the company.
However, there are potential downsides that you should be wary of when making this decision.
It Could Hurt Your Reputation
Unfortunately, leaving so soon after getting hired can come off as unprofessional. While your reasoning may make sense, it still affects the company. No matter how respectful you are and what you do to accommodate the needs of your employer, some companies will hold a grudge.
That’s the reality of the situation. Some employers might think that you’re bailing without giving the company a chance. They see your hiring as an investment that didn’t provide the hoped-for return.
Don’t let that sway you from quitting. At the end of the day, your mental health and career come first. If you believe leaving is the best choice for your life and career aspirations, do so.
However, it’s important to keep the risk of damaging your reputation in mind.
Your employer can feel blindsided about your departure, and may not consider you for positions moving forward. Some will also refuse to give you a good reference. Word travels fast, and it could even follow you as you try to land a job at another company.
That’s why maintaining professional decorum during this time is paramount. It’s already a delicate situation to navigate, and losing your cool will only fan the flames of discord. Use our tips above to leave with grace and do what you can to protect your reputation.
It Might Put You in a Tough Spot Financially
Another risk to consider is that quitting a job you just started might impact the financial well-being of you and your family.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re quitting without anything lined up or you have another opportunity on the horizon. Things can change in an instant. What if your other job offer falls through? What if it takes you longer than expected to go through the job search and finally get another offer?
It all comes back to ensuring that leaving is the absolute right choice. Unfortunately, that might mean sticking things out a bit longer if you’re in a tough spot financially.
Those are things you must think about before quitting a job you just started. Crunch the numbers, discuss it with your family, and be fully prepared for any worst-case scenario.
If you have another job lined up, speak with the hiring manager to ensure the job is still yours before resigning. It’s also wise to have money in savings to cover your financial responsibilities before you go back into the job market. Do your due diligence and prepare for what could be an even more challenging road ahead.
You never know what will happen, so this risk is one you want to consider seriously before making snap decisions.
Now that you know how to quit a job you just started, it’s time for you to do some thinking. You should be absolutely sure this is the right choice before moving forward.
If it must be done, always be professional and think ahead. The process doesn’t have to be a nightmare!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.