How To Quit A Job You Just Started (With Examples)

By Maddie Lloyd - Oct. 25, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

Have you recently started a job that just wasn’t what you expect it to be? Or maybe you found yourself sitting at your desk at the end of your first day and all you could think was “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Even when you’ve done everything right, sometimes our jobs turn out to not be as bright and shiny as they seemed while we were interviewing.

Maybe your new boss is a jerk, your coworkers are lazy and leave all the hard work for you, or maybe you’ve even gotten a better job offer from another employer.

If your brain constantly screams “I hate my job” on a loop while you’re at work, there’s good news — you don’t have to stay.

Even if you’re ready to jump ship as soon as possible, you should do your best to quit your job in a professional way and avoid burning any bridges. We’ll cover how to do just that.

1Make Sure You Really Want to Leave

Before you decide to throw in the towel, take a few days to really think through your decision. Consider all the pros and cons of leaving versus staying and think about if there’s a chance the situation can improve over time.

This is a good time to think about the repercussions of leaving. Because your employer has spent time and resources recruiting and training you, there’s a chance that your boss won’t be the happiest of campers.

Along with disgruntling your boss, there are other repercussions to consider:

  • You could end up being blacklisted by the company

  • You could damage your reputation within the industry

  • Your coworkers might be angry with you for dumping your responsibilities on them

  • You might be risking your financial stability

If you’re willing to risk the repercussions — or if they just don’t even matter to you that much — you can consider the benefits to quitting a job you quickly discovered that you hate:

  • You can regain your mental health

  • You know what to look out for in your next job hunt

  • You’re less likely to repeat the mistake of signing onto a job you hate

And if you’re wondering what qualifies as a “good” reason to quit a job you just started, here are a few definite red flags:

  • You got a better job offer. This makes for a very easy decision. Just make sure you officially confirm that the role is yours and sign all the necessary paperwork before you tell your boss that you’re quitting. Most people understand this one, and even if they don’t, it’s no sweat — you already have a better job!

  • You were lied to about the job. If the job description and the hiring manager’s portrayal of the job during the interview don’t line up with your actual experience, that’s a very good reason to quit a job you just started.

    It might be that you’re more over/underqualified than you thought or that the breakdown of your responsibilities’ proportional time commitment was mispresented. In any case, if you politely point this out as you quit, you’ll actually help the employer make sure not to repeat the mistake.

  • It’s a terrible environment. This can mean a lot of things — meanspirited, cliquish colleagues, a boss whose comments regularly make you uncomfortable, or just a depressing layout of joyless cubicles and cheap lighting.

    Some things are worth sticking out to see if they improve, but if you feel your mental health is in serious jeopardy, trust your gut and get out sooner rather than later.

Sometimes, the pros outweigh the cons of staying at a sucky job.

You’re the only one who can decide what’s best for you — and sometimes that means leaving a job you just started.

2Consider Options for Staying

If you think there’s a chance that your job might turn out to be not so bad after all, or even if you’re just not sure you want to take the risk of leaving, you might want to consider options for staying.

Maybe you could talk with your supervisor about modifying your job to fit your preferences, or perhaps there’s another job opening within the company that would better suit your needs and experience.

Even if you hate your job so much that you take periodic breaks throughout the day to cry in the car on the phone to your mom, it might be worth staying a while if you’ve had trouble finding a job or keeping one. After you settle into your job, you might find that you like it much more than you thought was possible.

If you think that you can find a new job quickly, go ahead and start job hunting.

3Start Looking for a New Job

It’s easier to look for a job when you already have one. If this new job isn’t a good fit, but you can stick it out for a little while, consider continuing work until you lock down another job (especially if it’s financially necessary to do so).

Be prepared for questions about why you’re leaving your job, but don’t stress about it. Recruiters and hiring managers understand that some jobs aren’t a good fit. What’s important is that you articulate why it’s not working out using positive language.

Don’t talk about how bad things are; talk about how your strengths, qualifications, and interests just don’t align with your current role and emphasize how the new role would suit you much better.

If you end up landing a new job, turn in your resignation.

4Give Plenty of Notice

The only thing worse than being remembered forever as “That jerk who quit after the first day” is being remembered as “That huge terrible jerk who gave less than two weeks’ notice before they left and screwed us all.”

The golden rule for quitting your job is to give your employer at least two weeks’ notice.

If you were given an employee handbook when you started your job, there may be rules lined out for how much time to give the company before you say goodbye to them forever.

Whenever possible, let your employer know as far ahead of time as possible before saying your farewells.

If you have enough flexibility before leaving or starting your new job, you could offer to stay an additional week or two and offer to help find a replacement.

Your employer might appreciate your kind gesture, or they might tell you to leave immediately — but it’s still best to be as considerate as possible and offer your help.

5Resign in Person

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to quit, it’s time to meet face-to-face with your boss so you can tell them your decision in person. Even though resigning in person is painful and awkward, it shows that you’re professional and gives you the chance to control how you’re going to be interpreted.

Be prepared to explain why you’re leaving.

It’s best to avoid saying things like “This job just sucks dude,” or “I think you’re mean and you smell bad.” Instead, mention reasons that focus on aspects of the job that didn’t fit your strengths or interests. At the very least, just don’t say anything mean.

Show gratitude for the opportunity, express your willingness to help with the transition, and suggest a last day of employment. Having a detailed plan in place for your last weeks of work will show that you’re considerate and haven’t made this decision lightly.

Your boss may react poorly and suggest you leave even sooner, so be prepared for that as well.

6But Also Put It in Writing

Even though you’re going to meet with your supervisor face-to-face, you should still submit your resignation in writing when you deliver the bad news.

Your letter of resignation should be brief, polite, professional, and reference the last day you expect to work with the company.

Again, don’t make any snide comments that could haunt you in the future — this would be particularly bad, as those remarks would be in writing.

A professional letter of resignation would look something like this:

Example Resignation Letter

Dear Mr. Awful Manager,
I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as Pencil Pusher with Worst Job Ever Industries. My last day of employment will be April 1, 2021.

I appreciate the opportunities that I have been given at Worst Job Ever Industries, but I have recently accepted a position with another company that is more suited to my career path. This opportunity will give me the chance to grow professionally in my field of choice.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding during this time. Please let me know if I can offer any assistance to ease this transition in any way, as I would like to make this as painless as possible for your company.

I apologize for not being able to stay on the job, however, I do appreciate the opportunities provided me, and I hope to stay in touch in the future.
Yosemite Sam

While it’s unlikely your boss will want you to stick around and train your successor, be prepared for that possibility (especially if you offer it). Make sure you don’t offer anything you don’t want to/plan on following through on.

7Don’t Mentally Check Out

Once you’ve gotten through the awkward dirty work of actually quitting your job, you still need to put in the effort during your remaining days on the job.

Don’t simply coast your way through your last two weeks.

You should still put forth 100% effort into the job — this will only help your reputation in such a sticky situation, and your boss will appreciate that you didn’t just sleep at your desk the whole time.

Show that, while the job isn’t what you wanted, you’re still a professional who will perform the responsibilities you agreed to perform for the period you indicated in your resignation letter.

It may be an uncomfortable situation, but you have a chance to still maintain a positive relationship with your colleagues, which may come in handy if you need a reference from them down the road.

Even if a reference seems kind of farfetched in this situation, you’ll at least have a few more members in your network who don’t think you’re an unprofessional jerk.

8Prepare for an Exit Interview

If you’re quitting from a big company, there will likely be an exit interview where HR personnel and possibly your boss will ask you about your decision to leave. It’s likely that they’ll be especially interested in the case of an employee quitting a job they just started since they really don’t want to make the same costly mistakes twice.

Hiring an employee costs an average of $4,425, and it takes between 36-42 takes to fill the average position. We’re not telling you this to make you feel guilty about leaving, but to encourage you to honor the exit interview.

In fact, leaving your employer with genuine and actionable advice about what went wrong in the hiring/onboarding process or during the job itself is valuable enough to counterbalance the immediate annoyance of your departure.

Before the exit interview, jot down some bullet points about why the cons of the job outweighed the pros. You can also mention aspects of the job that you really did like and wish had been a bigger part of the role.

But mostly, focus on why the job description and interview process didn’t paint you an accurate picture of the actual on-the-job experience. If that involves talking about annoying coworkers, go right ahead. But do so professionally, with diplomatic language like “not a good cultural fit” or “didn’t gel well with the existing team’s communication style.”

9Don’t Get Discouraged

Regardless of whether you decide to stay or leave, or if you have another job to bounce over to or not — don’t get down on yourself about your decision.

Sometimes the jobs we end up with aren’t what we expect them to be, and sometimes we find that they just aren’t a good fit.

And remember, it isn’t illegal to quit this quickly, so when you find yourself stuck at a job that doesn’t turn out to be what you were expecting, the best thing to do is chalk it up to experience, get back out there, and keep looking for your dream job.

Don’t let it bother you and don’t feel too bad about it. It’s far better to cut the relationship off soon after discovering that it won’t work, for both you and your employer.

Final Thoughts

The realization that a job you just started isn’t for you can be horrifying. Just remember that it’s not the end of the world if you decide to quit early on in your employment. As long as you handle the situation like a professional using the steps above, you’ll minimize any negativity that comes with quitting a job so quickly.

Be sure to reflect on what about the job is unbearable for you so that you don’t make the same mistake twice. Don’t view the experience as a horrible, reputation-destroying event. Look at it as a learning opportunity, and the next job you land will be a whole lot more satisfying.

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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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