How to quit a job you just started
Bad fit? Toxic boss? Better job offer? Regardless of why you’re thinking of quitting your job, you need to make a clean exit.
Between a new boss, new co-workers, and new office culture, your first few weeks at a job should be an exciting period in your career. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Two weeks in, and a voice inside your head is shouting, “I hate my new job!” And that's when you have to learn how to quit a job—even when the ink on your contract is still drying.
Although the average employment tenure for most workers is 4.2 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are plenty of logical reasons to leave sooner. For instance, maybe you were a victim of a bait-and-switch scheme—a hiring practice wherein you were hired for a job but actually get assigned an entirely different role—or you’re answering to a toxic boss. Another valid reason to consider quitting a new job—even if everything is sailing smoothly—would be if you’ve received a better job offer from another employer.
Regardless of why you’re halfway out the door, there are potential repercussions to making a quick exit. You certainly don’t want to burn bridges, and quitting too soon can have an impact in some big ways:
- Getting blacklisted. “You may never be able to have a relationship with your manager or with the company going forward,” cautions Ryan Kahn, founder of career coaching firm The Hired Group.
- Damaging your reputation in the industry. “If you’re a tight-knit field, word may get around that you quit unexpectedly,” says Kahn. If that happens, future hiring managers might negatively perceive you as a job hopper, which can make your next job search more difficult.
- Aggravating your co-workers. Exiting abruptly could force your co-workers to pick up the work you leave behind, which can build resentment among people you might cross paths with in the future.
- Making financial sacrifices. Obviously, your eligibility for unemployment insurance (if it even kicked in yet) may be at risk if you voluntarily quit your job. Additionally, if you received a sign-on bonus or reimbursement for relocation expenses but decide to leave within the first six months to a year, you might need to forfeit the cash, says San Francisco–based career and executive coach Rebecca Zucker.
On the other hand, there are benefits to quitting an ill-fitting job. In addition to regaining your mental health, you’re less likely to repeat this mistake, meaning your next job search will place the proper amount of focus on cultural fit.
Only you can decide whether to stay or leave, but if you’re already seriously contemplating quitting, you’re likely halfway there—the situation has to be pretty extreme to get you to this point. Should you choose to pack up, this is how to quit a job:
- Resign in person. While uncomfortable, you should break the news to your boss face to face so that you’re perceived as being professional. “Don’t hide behind an email resignation,” says Zucker. Then ask how she’d like you to notify the rest of the team. Don’t tell your co-workers you’re quitting until you speak with your boss.
- Keep a positive tone. You don’t need to explain why you’re quitting. “Let your boss know that you’ve thought long and hard about your decision, that you don’t take it lightly, and that you don’t want to cause any harm to the organization or the team,” says Zucker. If your manager presses you for an explanation, simply say that you feel leaving is the best decision for both you and the company.
- Draft a letter of resignation. Many employers require paper documentation for resignations. To save your boss time, type a resignation letter yourself and present it to your manager.
- Offer at least two weeks’ notice. Even though you’ve only been with the company for a short period of time, giving two weeks’ notice is appropriate, says Zucker. (Some companies even have a set policy for how many weeks’ notice is required.) But if you have the flexibility, you could offer to stay for three or four weeks, if your manager prefers it. Nonetheless, be prepared for a negative response. “The company may just want you to leave immediately,” says Zucker.
- Don’t mentally check out. Once you’ve announced that you’re leaving, you still need to put 100% of your time and effort into the job. Put simply: “Don’t coast,” says Ashley Stahl, a millennial career and business coach. Making an effort during your last two weeks on the job can only help your reputation in this delicate situation.
Find a better fit
Whether you leave a job suddenly or after a few years, there's a certain sinking feeling that strikes when you know for sure, "This job is not for me." But it happens—and it's not the end of the world. Want help making better career decisions and finding better jobs? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you'll get workplace trends, career advice, and job search tips delivered straight to your inbox so you can feel confident that you're headed in the right direction.