When you’re unhappy at a new company, it’s hard to know if the problem is fixable. You’re still getting to know the people, the culture, the day-to-day realities of the role. It’s an overwhelming time that can cloud your judgment of what to do: cut your losses or give it a chance?
Sometimes acting on your feelings is the right thing to do; other times, it means you’re quickly making a decision you’ll regret. That’s why it’s good to go through some key steps before quitting a job you hate.
For some expert input on what to do before rushing to the exit, read on.
How quick is “quick”?
LinkedIn defines “short tenure” as holding a position less than one year. Of course, we all know someone (and may have been that someone) who has left a job within a week or a month.
Widlyn Pierre, a professional HR recruiter at Frazer Jones, has seen nearly everything that can happen when it comes to hiring, firing, and quitting in her 15 years of helping people and companies find good matches. She considers any exit within the first 90 days as “quick,” since that’s a crucial period for the employee to really get to know the role, and for the company to make sure the employee is getting what they need.
“The first 90 days is an incubator moment for the new hire,” Pierre says. “Whether it’s experiencing a big learning curve, establishing institutional knowledge and learning internal processes, building relationships or a combination of all of these, you’re going to be challenged and it can be an emotional roller coaster in those first few months. But I’ve seen people quit the first week. To me that is too quick, because quitting within a week means you’re not giving anyone, not even yourself, an opportunity to see what really can develop out of your employment with the organization.”
If there’s a chance the frustration you’re feeling is fixable, it’s a great idea to explore solutions before making a hasty decision.
“Often people move thinking the grass is greener on the other side, but that’s not always the case,” Pierre says. “So give a company an opportunity to show you what they are all about, a chance to share that they may actually have what you are looking for. I think that is a much better approach to get what you want than just quitting quickly.”
Note this does not apply to situations where there’s mistreatment or anything illegal happening. In those cases, leaving quickly can be the healthiest decision.
If you find yourself far from loving your new role within those first 90 days, and you want to give the company a chance to prove themselves, here’s what to do.
Find the “why” before quick quitting a job you hate
Pierre says if someone came to her within the first 90 days, or the first week or two, saying they hate their job and want to quit, she’d first help them get to the “why.”
“I think it’s critical to really pause, dig deeper, and evaluate feelings and facts to establish a why. Then, depending on that root cause of current emotions and thoughts, I would ask them various questions and have them see the bigger picture. Step back and look holistically at the current situation and even more macro, at their longer term career. Our emotions can cause us to make decisions rather quickly, and helping someone to slow down and process their thoughts and feelings can help them reach the right outcome, whether that is a decision to stay or leave. I’ve found, often people say to me, ‘you know what, it’s not that bad…’”
Pierre says communicating these feelings to your manager is key if there’s going to be any potential for change. Many times people fail to do that before bailing.
“It’s always ‘I really didn’t talk to the manager,’; ‘I really didn’t tell this person how I really feel,’; ‘I really didn’t ask this person if I can have the flexibility.’ So I notice a lot of individuals quit quickly because of unresolved emotions that they failed to talk about with the appropriate parties,” Pierre says.
And that’s the case even when something [again, nothing illegal or discriminatory] is happening that’s triggering because of past trauma.
“This is real—we’re people, and people come into situations with their personal baggage,” Pierre says. “You need to have that conversation and be open with your manager and let them know, ‘I don't want to get too personal, but I do have trauma in certain areas and when this occurs it does trigger me, it does make me uncomfortable; is there any way we can possibly change or go about it a certain way?’”
Of course, this will only work if you truly want to try and resolve whatever issues you’re facing.
“You have to start from a place of being interested in wanting to make it work,” Pierre says. “It’s like a relationship. Whether it’s with a friend or a significant other, if you’re not interested in making it work, you’re not going to have those open conversations to try to see if you can make things better. Many times I have candidates who want to quit very quickly and when I ask them why it’s usually some type of organization issue, or it’s some type of management issue, or it’s some type of miscommunication. And all you need to do is be interested in finding a solution and having an open conversation.
“Now, if what happens after those open conversations is still not satisfying, or if it’s still going on, then you may have a decision that you have to make.”
You can also communicate with others besides your manager. Pierre says reaching out to teammates to get their perspective is important when you’re trying to make a new role work or you’re having issues with a coworker.
“Maybe someone else had a rough start like you are, and they can say, for example, ‘oh, so-and-so is just like that, once you get to know her she’s great to work with,’ or ‘she’s really not like that, she might be having a bad day, if I were you I’d contact her in a week and let her know what happened and you’re going to see she’s very apologetic… if you want I can initiate the conversation between you two to make things flow more smoothly.’”
Just make sure you do it “cautiously,” she says, so it doesn’t appear that you’re gossiping or talking badly of anyone.
Read more: How to Quit Your Job Gracefully
When you do “quick quit” a job you hate, what about your resume?
Many of us have been told for years that no hiring manager or company wants to see a short tenure on our resumes. So should your “quick quit” even go on there? Pierre says honesty and transparency are the best policy.
“You want to be transparent about positions you’ve held as these will show up in your employment verification and background check if your new employer does these,” Pierre says. “Equally, you want to use your resume as an opportunity to explain your career moves. Don’t be shy to explain your reason for leaving, professionally, on your resume. I would also say the notion of employers expecting not to see shorter tenure is somewhat outdated as employees tend to change positions more often than historically.”
When you do put a short tenure on your resume, be transparent. The more you tell your recruiter about why you left or why it wasn’t a good fit, the more likely they are to help you find an excellent fit—and help you avoid another bad match.
If you did have something happen that was out of your control, you’re not alone. A good recruiter and company will understand that.
“There are a lot of unfortunate stories where every company this person has been with has literally shut down, or there was an acquisition and management came in and reduced the department, or the individual got sick or they’re helping a family member,” Pierre says. “So you have some unfortunate stories that are legitimate and you can say you know what, it’s not this person’s fault.
“I don’t judge a book by its cover. I talk to everybody—you can ask my team,” Pierre says. “I do believe in second chances in life because I’ve always gotten those second chances. So I’m not going to look at a resume and say ‘oh, I see this person has been at each job for three months,’ and then disregard it. I’m going to have a conversation and ask those very important questions: ‘What happened at your last position, the position here, the position there…?’ I’m getting the story from them.”
Quality recruiting is just one of the ways you can land at a company and job you don’t hate.
Read more: Two-Weeks Notice Letter Templates To Use
How companies can help prevent people from quitting—and hating—their jobs
The beginning stages of an employee and employer getting to know each other—even before an offer is made—are key to a successful working relationship. They include interviewing, onboarding, and training.
First, you want to find a recruiter and recruiting process that involves really getting to know the candidates and what they’re looking for, and what will make them happy.
Pierre says her style, that’s supported by her company, Frazer Jones, prioritizes getting to know people well in order to place them in the best possible role and work environment.
“You want to get to know the person first. So my conversations are finding that commonality between me and the individual,” Pierre says. “I’m a very transparent person, so when I’m having conversations with my candidates it’s not like buttoned-up and professional. It’s more like ‘I understand, I get it, let me tell you my situation…’ I open up my life to them so they can feel more comfortable to do the same.”
What you can do to help yourself when you’re interviewing is get answers on the specifics.
“Ask the challenging and tough questions aside from job duties and expectations,” Pierre says. “Questions like, what is your management style? How is your flexibility with employees? Who will I be reporting to? And if it’s not the interviewer, ask to meet them. Ask questions you know are deal breakers for you based on what you do not want.”
Once you’re hired, the training and onboarding process are extremely important.
“The first 90 days you’re setting the stage up for what’s to come in the future,” Pierre says. “If [the company is] apologetic, transparent, available to new hires, answering questions, having those weekly meetings, allowing employees to feel empowered by asking them for input and actually following up on that input or implementing that input, I can tell you that’s key.”
Pierre says her own company is a great example of how to welcome new employees and make sure they have everything they need.
“Within my first two weeks I probably met over 30 teammates. My first two weeks were one-on-one team meetings with different people who could support me. And when I tell you they fix a problem, I mean everyone is on those email chains and they fix it within a 2–3 hour period. Those are the types of things that are very important to display to a new hire to keep them around. Because if something goes wrong after the first 90 days or within six months or a year, they know this company has their back.”
The good news is, most companies want you to be there and do what they can to keep you. If you’ve had a bad experience with one company, know that better ones are out there. And you speaking up and resolving any issues at your new company can get you to a better place.
“I can honestly say from my experience, for the most part, I know just speaking to employers and speaking to candidates that employers do want to try to be flexible,” Pierre says. “They really want to fix things so people don’t quit quickly. They really do. I had one person who did quit quickly and the employer reached out to me and said, ‘can you please reach out to this person and find out what we did wrong; what did we do? I want to know what we did so we don’t make that same mistake.’ I think employers really want to retain their employees, they don’t want people to leave, they want to do right by them, they want to give them the flexibility and all these different things, but if the communication is not there, if the new hires and candidates aren’t speaking up and telling these employers what’s happening and why they’re doing what they’re doing, it’s going to be very difficult to drive positive change.”