Starting a new job is exciting. You arrive fresh, ready to go and may have even come back from a vacation on the heels of your final day at your last job.
You walk on water for the first week or month, but after that, the work sets in and it becomes apparent it's not the job you signed up for. Maybe the role may be more junior or administrative and less strategic than you expected, or your boss is a nightmare.
You've decided to quit — but how can you make sure that doesn't affect your reputation and damage your chances for future employment? Here are a few tips.
1. Check the fine print
The most logical place to turn is your contract to see if there's a probation period. Probation periods are a two-way street — they are in place not only in case the employer changes their mind, but in case you do as well. If you do indeed see one in your contract, there should be no hard feelings if either of you decides to end the relationship within the stated time frame. Ideally, the employer will understand, just as they would expect you to understand if they said goodbye to you.
2. Speak your mind
If an exit interview is an option, take it, or find some other way to communicate to your boss or human resources that the position was presented differently than what it ended up being. Or if you are leaving because your boss's leadership style is not working for you, share that as well. Just keep it professional and helpful to the company, which may need to re-examine how or who they hire.
3. Explore your options
Depending on your situation, going back to your previous employer may be an option. While some employers may see you as disloyal and not welcome you back, others may see you as a valuable employee worth rehiring. If this is the case, have an honest discussion as to why you left and perhaps changes can be made to your old role to help you feel more satisfied with the company if they take you back. This is further reason to leave any employer in a professional way.
If the employer you're leaving proactively recruited you, and caused you to leave a good job with a solid employer, you may even have some legal recourse — especially if the position was not presented in a truthful and accurate way.
4. Learn from your missteps
Of course, much easier than quitting a job that's not right for you is avoiding it in the first place — so it's worth reflecting on where you went wrong so you know what to look out for next time. Job interviews should always give a candidate an opportunity to ask questions of the employer. Many people do not use this opportunity to its fullest extent. Ask intelligent questions that will not only make the interview panel think (after all, they just made you work — now it's your turn), but that will give you a sense of what it would be like to work there.
Ask questions such as: What is your priority for this role, and what do I most need to succeed? Or, as my director, what would be the most valuable thing I can learn from you? And make sure to ask why the position is available. If it is a new role, ask what internal resources are in place to support it, such as executive sponsorship. If the role is available because someone left, ask how long that person was there. If the answer is anything less than a year, ask how long the person prior to that was there. If you see a disturbing pattern of six- to eight-month stints, it is unlikely you will last much longer. The new hire is either getting let go, or running away. You will likely experience the same fate.
5. Get the inside scoop
As part of preparing for an interview, you should also scan LinkedIn or other social networks to see if you know people working at the company. Ask them for insight on the role, your future leader and the company's culture. Your contacts are a valuable resource in terms of getting to know a company's true culture, and whether it will fit your goals. Reviews on sites such as Glassdoor may also be helpful, but make sure to read a variety of reviews to get a balanced opinion.
Ultimately, do not waste time at an employer hoping things will change, because they rarely do. If it's not what you signed up for, get out and begin the hunt for something else.
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