Can You Leave a Job After Just a Few Months?
Welcome to Career Therapy, where executive recruiter Pat Mastandrea answers questions about your career path, career transitions, and career decisions. Read this Q&A, then email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your own question!
Hi Career Therapy,
I have a question I'd like to pose anonymously.
In March, I started a new job. As I've been here a couple months, I'm realizing it might not be the right fit for me. The culture is actually quite stiff, there's very little collaboration, and the work is more tedious than I expected.
Recently, a friend encouraged me to check out a new position at another organization. The new job seems like it would align much more closely with my skill set as well as improve the skills I hope to develop long-term. It would also pay better and presents a stronger opportunity for advancement. I've already started interviewing, and it looks like it's going to materialize into an offer.
I know the grass is always greener, and I don't want to change jobs just to be disappointed in a few months. That being said, I do feel like the new job prospect could be a terrific opportunity in my career. Is it terrible form to leave a position after just a few months?
Any advice you can provide is appreciated!
When it comes to any career consideration, my motto is: “What’s best for you is often best for the company in the long run.”
In other words, you being happy, satisfied, and motivated in your role serves all. It sounds like the new opportunity is a much better fit for you, and you can rest assured that having one short stint on a resume is not a cause for concern, as long as you can explain it openly and with sound reason.
But before I go into detail on that front, I cannot stress enough how important it is to thoroughly assess cultural fit during the interview process—both for this new opportunity, and for every opportunity you have in the future.
We often prioritize questions about title, job responsibilities, salary, benefits, and vacation time during the interview process—and we often overlook questions specific to the company culture and personal fit. It’s crucial to find out details like: What time do people generally arrive and leave? What kind of corporate events do they have? How are company-wide issues handled? Are there weekly or monthly staff meetings? How do people dress? Any unique policies? Asking these questions early on will help you to gauge the company’s personality and decide if it's the right place for you.
But don’t stop there. Ask for a tour of the office, even if they don’t offer one to you. It’s important for you to see employees in action with your own two eyes. If what you’re hearing from your interviewers doesn’t match what you actually experience, that’s very telling.
Also, you can easily ask the people you meet with what they love about the company. Why do they like working there? Are there things about the company that frustrate them? How would they define the company culture? Is there room for advancement? Does the company tend to promote from within? Is there a mentoring program?
Along those same lines, it is extremely important to meet as many people as possible that you will be working with on a daily basis—not just the hiring manager or the head of HR. Often times, that means asking to meet people beyond those the company requires you to interview with. If they don’t offer interviews with other people on your team, feel free to ask. Doing proper due diligence on a company’s culture will not only serve to convey your serious interest in the company, but it will also help you decide if this is the right environment for you.
Now, onto your current decision. It is not terrible form to leave one job after a few months; just don’t make leaving after a few months a habit. Having one brief stint on your resume is not a big deal—red flags arise if this behavior seems to be chronic or symptomatic of your inability to assess a company. Job-hopping can convey a lack of focus or raise concern around your departures—for example, many companies have 60-90 day probation periods, and if you leave during this time, future employers might question whether you were terminated or asked to leave.
But one short job on your resume isn’t a huge deal, and you can address it upfront with any future interviewers. Be honest about why you left after a short time—that you realized early on that the job wasn’t a great fit and that you were presented with a better opportunity you couldn’t turn down. Honesty (with tact and with respect to your former employer, of course) is the best policy.
Also, if you are equally honest and upfront with the company you are leaving and resign in a most professional way, your colleagues will likely respect your approach. The current employer may well give you a reference on how well you handled the situation and your performance during your short stay with the company. And who knows? If your employer is open-minded, the company may well try to fix some of the issues that led to your departure so other applicants will not experience what you did.
Best of luck with your new opportunity,
Have a question for Career Therapy? Email email@example.com!
Photo of woman at work courtesy of Shutterstock.
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