You aced the interview, accepted the job offer and were excited to walk through the door for your first day at your new job. That first day went well, but as the week wore on, you began to realize something wasn’t right. It just wasn’t a good fit. Maybe it’s not what was promised, maybe it’s not a cultural fit or maybe it’s just not meeting your expectations. It’s time to make a tough career decision. But how do you quit a job you just started?
When it comes to evaluating a new workplace, signs that your new job is not a good fit might appear on day one or week one, or it could take longer for the red flags to start popping up.
Regardless of when it happens, it’s important to evaluate how you’re feeling about the job overall, including the long-term career opportunity, the company and your direct manager.
Are there things you can live with, are there changes you can make to improve the situation or is it a job you need to quit?
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3 signs that your new job isn’t a good fit
While no one wants to make a snap decision, especially with your livelihood on the line, we’ve outlined a few key signs your new job might not be a good fit.
1. The job duties are different from what you were told during the hiring process.
While some jobs are more open ended – especially if the role is new or evolving – it can be a red flag if the job you were hired to do is radically different from the job you’re actually doing, especially if you don’t have an explanation from your manager.
In these situations, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you struggling because you don’t feel supported by co-workers or your manager?
- Are you spending more time on the “other duties” you’ve been assigned versus what were supposed to be your day-to-day responsibilities?
- Are you being asked to do significantly more (or less) than you were hired to do? Do you feel like your job title and compensation match the workload?
- Are you comfortable with these changes? Is what you’re doing a good fit for you, or is it misaligned with your long-term career goals?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it might be worth having a conversation with your manager to discuss the situation. They might appreciate your feedback and be willing to adjust so that the role is a better match for your expectations and desires.
2. There’s a lack of cultural alignment.
During your interviews, everyone was polite and greeted you with a smile. Now that you’re a part of the team, the gloves are off; it’s clear that everyone was simply on their best behavior during your interviews. The sense of culture you got during your time as a candidate is not lining up with your experience as an employee. So what do you do?
While some initial tension or employee differences are normal – like communication styles between generations – an overall lack of cultural alignment can be a clear sign that your new job isn’t a good long-term fit. This is particularly true if you’re working in an environment that feels hostile, aggressive or even unsafe. Someone who is used to a talkative office might be able to adapt to a quieter office, but it’s important to consider the long-term implications of remaining in a work environment that isn’t right for you.
Indicators of workplace culture include leadership style, communication, organizational norms and practices, people dynamics, unconscious bias, social norms and behaviors and the like. If you don’t align with the culture, will you still be able to be successful and feel fulfilled? Only you can answer this, and it can take time to find your place within any new company, but if there are major red flags around the company culture, it may be a clear indicator that you haven’t found a good long-term fit.
3. You’ve got a “gut feeling” that something is off.
Maybe your new job is going okay, the office culture is decent, but something still doesn’t feel right. In these situations, do what works for you. Most people are not able to quit a new job right away, as they’re relying on their paycheck, and that’s okay.
There are two approaches you can take in this situation: go with your gut or wait and see. Don’t be afraid to talk to a friend, career coach or trusted advisor about the situation. By doing so, you may be able to unpack the hesitations you’re feeling or dispel them.
According to the World Health Organization, poor working environments – including discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control and job insecurity – pose a risk to mental health. Ultimately, you need to make a decision that’s best for you and your health; but don’t discount what your gut is telling you. It’s usually an early indicator of troubles ahead.
Make a plan before quitting
If you’ve thought it through and decided that there’s no saving this job, it’s important to plan your next steps before you quit. When you hate your new job, you may want to quit tomorrow, but is that the best move for you? As you’re thinking through your next steps, consider the following:
Prepare for a new job search
There’s a school of thought that it’s easier to find a new job when you have a job. This can be because there is less pressure given that you already have a job and because employers, right or wrong, tend to gravitate towards candidates who are already currently working. Take this time to craft the job search that will result in the best long-term fit for you. Consider if full-time work is ultimately what you’re looking for, or if you want to start your own company, take on a temporary position or consult. If your rationale for not liking your current job is tied to scheduling, make sure that you determine how you want to work, whether that be 100% remotely, hybrid or in an office, before you start targeting new jobs.
Update your resume
Depending on which career path you decide to take, it may be necessary to update your resume. Add your recent position and any new skills you have obtained. If you have a LinkedIn profile, be sure to update that as well. Consider how you want to position your job change. Hiring managers will likely be curious about why you’re looking to leave a new role so quickly, and – while job hopping has become more commonplace in recent years – it can also be a red flag if you’ve left several positions back-to-back. People leave jobs for a myriad of reasons; know your story and succinctly share why you’re looking to make a move.
Consider your finances
Closely related to figuring out the type of job you want is making sure your finances are in order. Do you need a new job immediately? Are you considering contracting or consulting opportunities? Know what you’re looking for and the compensation you’re expecting given the different types or ways in which you may be working. Job searching without financial pressures is ideal, which may mean sticking it out in your current job while you hunt for your next opportunity.
Find a specialized recruiter
Job searching can be stressful, especially if you’re working full-time in a job that’s not a good fit for you. To help with the job search, consider partnering with a recruiter who specializes in your field. Recruiters have exclusive access to open jobs in need of qualified talent. Let the recruiters in your network know you’re on the market and see what opportunities they have for you.
Lean into your support system
Starting a new job is exciting and nerve-wracking; starting a new job only to discover it isn’t a good fit adds a whole other layer of emotion and complexity. The most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself, especially your mental health. Talking through your situation with supportive family members, friends, mentors or even a therapist can help. Your support system provides an important perspective that may ultimately lead you to a new, better job. Speak openly with them, gather their feedback and apply it to your new job search.
Everything to know about quitting a new job
Once you’ve determined your plan, start preparing for your exit from the company. While some people might be worried about burning bridges with their new employer, it is possible to quit a new job without damaging your reputation. Here are a few steps to keep in mind.
1. Write a resignation letter
A resignation letter is a formal document letting your employer know you are leaving the company. This letter does not have to be complex. It can be as simple as notifying your employer of your last day at the company and including a message thanking them for the opportunity. We recommend saving the letter as a .pdf document and notifying your manager before you email or hand-deliver it.
Be sure to check your employment agreement for any details on the amount of notice you are required to give. If it’s not specified, giving two weeks’ notice is standard business practice and common courtesy. Ultimately, the amount of time you stay at the job after submitting your resignation letter will depend on your unique situation. Depending on your tenure (no matter how brief) and responsibilities, it may be worth it to offer a longer transition period to demonstrate that you don’t want to leave the company scrambling for your replacement.
2. Tell your manager
When it comes to quitting a new job, in-person is always best. However, that might not be an option if you’re working remotely. In that case, try to avoid sending your resignation over email. Schedule a meeting or a phone call first and take a copy of your resignation letter with you.
This might be an awkward encounter, especially if you’re quitting a job you just started. Keep the conversation professional and be prepared to answer questions about why you’re leaving after such a short amount of time. You don’t have to be scripted, but you should know the points you’d like to make. It’s a small world and you never know when you may cross paths with your manager (or anyone else at the company) again.
3. Prepare for a possible exit interview
Many companies conduct exit interviews, giving the human resources department a chance to ask questions about your time as an employee. This also gives you an opportunity to provide feedback about your experience. Be honest about your reasons for leaving, and just like the conversation with your manager, be mindful about your tone and delivery.
This shouldn’t be taken as an opportunity to complain about the situation. Instead, offer polite feedback on why the position didn’t work out for you. Were the job responsibilities too much for any one person? Is more training needed? Did something happen with another employee to prompt your exit? This is all useful information for the HR department to know.
4. Be prepared for an immediate dismissal
You’re doing the right thing by giving two weeks’ notice, but your employer may decide two weeks isn’t necessary and ask you to leave immediately. This can be an uncomfortable situation, so be sure to talk through how your employment separation will be documented and carefully read anything the employer asks you to sign.
If you’re not sure how your company will react to your resignation, it’s best to plan for the worst-case scenario. That way, you aren’t left scrambling if you’re asked to leave earlier than you anticipated.
Why it’s okay to resign from a job you just started
Most people hold numerous jobs during their lifetime. A 2022 U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office survey found that the average length of time workers had been at their current jobs was 4.1 years. For someone who works from age 18 until the average retirement age of 61, that’s roughly 10.75 jobs in their lifetime. With that many jobs on your career journey, you’re likely to have one or two roles that don’t last very long. You’re also likely to have roles that are a great fit and last for years.
While no one wants to quit a job they just started, it’s more common than you may think. Do what you can to make the situation work for you, but don’t feel pressured to stay in a job that isn’t a good fit for you long-term. Whether you plan to stick it out a while longer or want to submit your resignation right away, always consider your professional goals. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, but you need to be a champion of your own career.