The numbers are in, and they’re not good. Up to 31% of new hires quit within the first six months on the job. It’s quite possible that at some point, you’ll be relatively new in a job and wondering if and when it’s okay to vamoose.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may find that the best thing to do is to give notice and move on. But before you rush to do that, consider some strategies for when maybe that’s not the best, or the most financially viable, option.
1. Figure Out What’s Not Working (and What Is)
When people tell me they hate their new job, I first want to know what, specifically, they hate about it. After all, when you start any new job, you tend to feel clumsy and ungainly, simply because everything’s new. You’re used to feeling competent, and now you don’t. This sense of discomfort might feel like failure or frustration—and that might be the source of your thoughts of quitting.
On the other hand, it could also be that the work wasn’t what was promised, your manager is useless, or the culture totally sucks. Those are things that may not get better over time.
Then, look at what is working. Maybe you’re working for a great company with potential for advancement. There might be great mentors and experienced professionals on your team to learn from.
After you assess what’s working and what’s not, consider if the long-term gain is worth slogging through these difficult early months. Then, you’ll be able to think about your next steps and options much more clearly.
2. Have “The Talk” With Your Manager
It’s no secret: It’s a big fat hassle for organizations to recruit and hire employees, only to lose them in a few short weeks. That means, as a new hire, you have leverage. Use it! After all, the organization hired you because the people there believe you can help it succeed. The employer is probably going to be very disappointed if you leave.
My client, Vivian, for example, landed the job of her dreams at a nonprofit. The week after she started, her boss went on vacation and left her with a big list of to-dos, vague instructions, and good wishes. By the time her boss returned, she was overwhelmed, unnerved, and ready to quit, thinking she had made a very big mistake and was going to be awful at the job.
But Vivian decided to try a different approach. Though her first instinct was to gloss over the situation when her boss returned, she met with her manager to explain what happened and how it made her feel. She shared her desire to do well, but reported feeling lost and unsupported in the early weeks.
Her boss listened and apologized. She arranged for Vivian to receive training and coaching on the company’s software and other processes. She thanked her for being brave and forthcoming about her experience so they could remedy it together. Contrary to her first days on the job, Vivian moved forward feeling welcomed, valued, and supported. Resignation averted!
It’s not always easy to say, “I need help!”—especially in a new job where you want to be seen as a competent high performer. But by asking for what you need, you may be able to change the path of this new job.
3. Give Yourself a Time Frame
OK, so you’ve started the new job and it’s less than ideal. But remember, jobs—and the success that comes with them—are an acquired taste that require time, practice, and learning.
Most new employees leave jobs because they don’t feel confident in getting the work done or getting to know the boss and colleagues. So, give yourself time to do both. Create a timeline that you’ll use to make a go or stay decision—and during that time, commit to learning the job and the work processes.
Get a mentor. Meet weekly with your manager. Build relationships with the colleagues and teams around you. Do everything you can in your control to make the job the best experience possible.
If, at the end of your time frame, nothing’s better and you don’t believe you’re moving forward, consider putting your termination plan into place.
4. If All Else Fails, Quit and Ask for Your Old Job Back
Recently, another one of my clients, Emma, called with great news: a job offer at a big name company in New York. More money, better title. And did I mention the well-known, super recognizable name you would kill to have on your resume?
But a few weeks later I got another call. “How long do I have to stay here before I can quit, without looking like a job hopper?”
Yep. The grass isn’t always greener. It turns out that big brand name was filled with 50-something white men and social outings that felt more like funerals than fiestas. Though she loved the work, 20-something Emma hated the environment. No one left before the boss, and the boss didn’t leave until nearly 8 PM each evening.
She called her former employer and asked if she could return. Though her specific job wasn’t available, her old boss referred her to another department where she is now happily employed. (That’s why it helps to leave on good terms and keep your relationships current!)
Taking a job and wanting to quit immediately is a story I hear far too frequently. It reinforces how critical due diligence is in the job search. “I should have asked more, better questions before I took that job,” is a common observation.
If you leave, remember that your next job search is a two-way street. Sure, that company is looking for talent. But you need to look for the place that’s right for you.