Work Relationships

How To Quit A Job You Just Started

Written by Peter Jones

You did everything right and landed the job. Trouble is, through no fault of your own, it’s just not what you expected it would be. You’re suddenly desperate not to work there anymore, but you’re worried that you’re stuck. You don’t want to anger your new colleagues or boss. You don’t want to risk being blacklisted from future positions at the company. You don’t want to bring your educational institution a bad name. And you definitely don’t want to be seen as a quitter. What if you get to your next job and feel the same way? You can’t just keep bailing after week one!

These are all things to think through if you find yourself in an unhappy situation. But do bear in mind that there are other considerations. You won’t be as happy, fulfilled, challenged, or productive at an unfulfilling job. Getting out now, once you can see the unpleasant future spilling out before you, might just save both you and your boss a lot of trouble and mental waste.

If you do decide to quit, be absolutely sure before you do. That’s the most important factor in deciding whether to breach decorum and cut your losses before you’ve even gotten situated in a new position. The second most important thing is to exit gracefully.

Here’s how:

Resign tactfully.

Don’t burn any bridges. Do what you can to keep these contacts. And do it in person. This is not the time for letters or emails (though you should have a formal resignation letter ready to go after you meet to discuss with your boss). You owe it to your supervisor to explain why you are bailing—particularly after so much joint effort to get you on board.

Be honest and apologetic.

Don’t make weak excuses that you think will make your boss feel empathy for you. Give the real reason, or the closest to it you can get, and still remain tactful. Be genuinely sorry for the inconvenience, and pivot to showing how this is best for the company and your quitting is actually something of a selfless act. If you’re the wrong fit for this job, it’s your moral duty to speak up and say so before wasting time and resources.

Give proper notice.

You’ll want to do this with plenty of time for them to find someone else. You should even offer, if at all possible, to stay until they find and train your replacement. This could be great for you if you don’t have an alternative job lined up—use the time to find another one! Remember, you are inconveniencing them, and should behave accordingly.

Consider that you might be asked to stay.

In most cases, you’ll be given a bunch of reasons to stay. Ask yourself before you speak to your boss whether there are any conditions that, if changed, would make you actually want to stay. Have an answer prepared either way.

Think harder next time.

Don’t beat yourself up. But do let this be a lesson that you should really consider all angles of a new job before accepting it. Saving yourself the embarrassment and a whole lot of extra uncertainty and work.

About the author

Peter Jones