How to Quit a Job You Just Started — Without Burning Professional Bridges

While your employer will likely be disappointed you’ve decided to leave your job so quickly, that doesn’t mean it has to be an acrimonious parting. It all comes down to how you handle the process.

Starting a new job should be an exciting and rewarding experience — but sometimes, it can fall short of that expectation. Perhaps, after your first week, you realize the new role doesn’t align with your expectations. Maybe your boss is proving to be a challenging supervisor, or an unexpected career opportunity has turned up, tempting you to reconsider the job you recently accepted.

There are many reasons someone may want to quit a job right after starting, but understandably, it’s difficult to quit a new role. Most people feel obligated to stick it out, often out of fear of damaging their relationship with the company and their colleagues.

However, it is possible to gracefully exit a job you just started. Speaking with Kyle Chavez and Deborah Glynn, human resources (HR) experts and professors at USC Bovard College, we learned how you can quit a new job without burning professional bridges.

Should You Quit Your Job if You’ve Just Started?

Many people feel like they can’t leave a job immediately after accepting the role, but there are valid reasons to resign sooner rather than later. The decision ultimately hinges on why you want to leave.

“If it’s truly a much better opportunity for your long-term career growth, that is a  good reason,” Glynn said. “You should definitely consider leaving if the [other] opportunity is  much better.

There are plenty of other legitimate reasons for contemplating an early departure. Maybe the current position isn’t the right fit, you and your manager aren’t compatible, or there are broader issues with the organization as a whole. Alternatively, circumstances that are beyond your control, such as dealing with a medical issue or unexpected family problems, may require you to quit.

Nevertheless, before making the decision to resign, you need to carefully consider why you want to leave the position and whether it’s the right step for your career.

“I think taking a look at what it is you don’t like about your current job is important  so that at least if you do quit, you don’t make the same mistake twice. Are you somebody that repeatedly starts a job, hates it and moves on numerous times? Because then either you’re making a mistake when you’re deciding where to go, or you have unrealistic expectations,” Glynn explained.

When evaluating your concerns with the job and your desire to quit, you should also seek the advice of past colleagues or managers, Chavez said.

“Most professionals who have been in similar situations might recommend an employee discuss their challenges with their supervisor and human resource partner first before taking a leap,” he explained.

Regardless, if you’ve done the necessary amount of reflection and are confident you want to leave your job, you should feel empowered to make the move. A job is not a lifetime obligation, after all, and most employers will understand.

“Resigning from a job that you just started is certainly not a comfortable predicament, however, it is not necessarily career-damaging,” Chavez confirmed.

Is It Possible to Leave a Job Right Away Without Burning Bridges?

While your employer will likely be disappointed you’ve decided to leave your job so quickly, that doesn’t mean it has to be an acrimonious parting. It all comes down to how you handle the process.

“It will depend partially on the reason you are leaving. Many companies will understand if it’s a better opportunity growth-wise or financially. I think if you are transparent and professional in how you handle the situation, it can be a more comfortable process. Don’t quit and walk away; don’t throw bombs as you walk out the door. Just be as professional and as transparent as possible,” Glynn advised.

If you handle this transition with courtesy, it’s likely you’ll receive the same in return.

How to Quit a Job You Just Started

Once you are certain of your move and have determined that leaving is in your best interest, you should follow these steps, Chavez said.

1. Prepare for your exit, which includes managing your money.

You must ensure that your financial situation is stable. Ideally, it’s best to secure a new job before leaving.

“Putting yourself at risk by dipping into a nest egg fund may only make your situation worse. If you are under any contracts, review the stipulations that may affect your leaving before the contract expires,” Chavez said.

2. Manage the transition by communicating with the right people.

Above all, be as transparent and honest as possible, and set a meeting with your supervisor to communicate your intention and reasons for leaving. Throughout the transition, maintain professionalism and provide your employer with ample notice.

“At least two weeks’ notice is ideal, giving time for you to transfer your knowledge and for your employer to find a replacement if needed. However, depending on the circumstances, be prepared for your notice to also be your last day of employment. Organizations have differing policies on voluntary separations. Stay cordial and respectful, and keep in mind that your employer may not be expecting your early departure,” Chavez explained.

3. Show courtesy to set the tone of your relationship with this employer.

Throughout the remaining time with your employer, express gratitude for the opportunity and strive to keep the door open for future opportunities. Facilitate a smooth transition by completing any outstanding work and possibly offering to take on additional tasks, like training your replacement.

“As you make your transition, and if the circumstances allow, you may consider being available for a short period of time once you leave for a quick call or virtual meeting. Just be sure you share your boundaries and don’t allow the connection to impede your time with your new employment,” Chavez said.

4. Maintain professional ties with the company even after you’ve moved on.

Once you leave the company, cultivate your professional network on LinkedIn and other platforms by connecting with any former colleagues.

“Maintain professionalism on social media and avoid any remarks that could jeopardize the organization’s brand as well,” Chavez added.

Is It Possible to Return to a Company After You’ve Quit?

Yes, it’s possible to return to a company even after you’ve resigned earlier than anticipated.

For that opportunity to be considered, however, you must have left the company on a positive note. If you’ve followed the above steps, treated your employer with respect, and quit for understandable reasons, it is certainly possible.

There is a chance, however, that the company may not want you to return, and that’s the risk you run when resigning shortly after starting a job. All you can do is reach out and explore the possibility if you notice an opportunity at your former company in the future.

The Bottom Line

Quitting a job as soon as you’ve started can be challenging, often accompanied by complex feelings of regret and guilt. Still, there are numerous valid reasons for such a decision, and if you genuinely feel the need to leave, you have the freedom to do so.

Just ensure that when you resign, you handle the situation in a manner that’s as respectful and thoughtful as possible.

Access more career advice and learn about the online MS in Human Resource Management program at USC Bovard College today.

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