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How Soon Is Too Soon to Leave a Job?

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

Leaving a job shortly after you’ve started can be a red flag to future employers. Most professionals believe you should stay at a job for a minimum of one year to show some level of commitment before moving on. 

But there are legitimate reasons to quit a job soon after you’ve signed on. We’ve outlined some of the most common reasons people make a quick exit from their current jobs, and give tips on how to leave in a professional manner.

A Toxic Work Culture

Some work environments are just not a good fit for your overall well-being. Maybe the manager is a bully. Or you’ve encountered unsafe work conditions and inappropriate behavior. If your physical or mental health is suffering because of your job, you should consider leaving that position, even if it’s just been a few months.

Before you make your exit, share your concerns with human resources or discuss the issues with a supervisor whom you trust. There may be some solutions that you haven’t considered (such as changing to a different team or working under a different manager). At the very least, you’ve brought attention to the issue, which may make the situation better for the next person in your position.

A Better Job Opportunity

Let’s say that a few weeks after you’ve started your new job, a better job offer comes through. What do you do? 

First, consider why the new offer is better. Does it pay more or have more extensive benefits? Or perhaps the job is more in line with your professional goals. But don’t just jump at the chance to leave; really think about if  the job is a better choice for you and what it would mean for your career.

If you do decide to leave, be humble when you break the news to your boss. Recognize the inconvenience you’re causing and share your appreciation for the opportunity they gave you. Be honest with your reasoning for considering the new offer. Upon hearing your reasons, your current boss might be willing to make some changes to try to keep you.

A Career Change

Sometimes starting a new job will make you realize that your current career trajectory is not what you want to be doing with your life long term. Spending two years there could feel like a waste of time if you’ve decided to move in a different professional direction. 

If you know that your current job is not what you want to be doing, discuss your options with a supervisor or human resources representative. The company could decide they want to try to keep you on and offer you a professional development opportunity that’s more akin to your new professional aspirations. Some organizations (such as universities) allow their employees to take classes for free or at a discount, letting you invest in your career change while still earning a paycheck.

But if none of those options work out and you decide to quit, you should still make sure to thank your employer for the opportunity.

A Major Life Event

Life happens. People have babies. Elderly parents fall ill. Partners get job offers in different cities. There are major events that we simply cannot predict or control, and sometimes our jobs just don’t fit within the new reality.

Discuss the situation with your supervisor. There may be opportunities for short-term leave of which you aren’t aware (even if you’ve only just started the job). Your company might be willing to allow you to work part-time or even remotely to accommodate your situation and keep you on the team. But you ultimately need to make the best decision for you and your family.

Before You Leave…

Before you announce your decision to quit, definitely make a stop to human resources. If your employer invested in your move, computer, or any supplemental training for you, you could be expected to pay back all or a portion of those expenses.

There may also be policies about how much notice you’re expected to give. Two weeks is common, but some companies expect at least a month’s notice. Check if your current employer has a non-compete clause, which would prevent you from taking a position with a competing organization. It’s best to learn all the potential consequences and options before making a firm decision.

If you want to maintain the respect of your current employer and hope for a future job reference, then a two-year commitment is a good rule of thumb. However, if you truly believe that you have to bow out early, most employers will understand. Just be honest and open about your motivations and don’t rush to make a decision.

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

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