Exactly how rude is it to leave a job after only three months?
October 11, 2009 8:13 AM   Subscribe

A few months ago I moved to a new city and started a new job. The city is just okay (I would never settle here), but the job is great. Now I have an opportunity to move to the place where I really want to live, and work a job that is functionally similar to my current position but for a much more prestigious company, "XYZ Inc." (a company that is considered by many to be the absolute Best Place to Work). Can I do this?

I have very little experience in the business world (everything I've done up to now was in academia) so I don't know what the precedent here is or how common situations like these actually may be. I've been trained extensively at my current job and I know my colleagues and supervisors would be irked (possibly worse than that) if I left anytime soon.

My gut instinct is to keep my head down and forget about this other opportunity, but some of my friends (who I would normally trust about such matters) say that working for XYZ is such an amazing opportunity that I should just go for it. Everyone I know in "real life" who is knowledgeable about these things is a current co-worker, so seeking their advice is out of the question. What to do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (20 answers total)
Your employer (any employer) would not hesitate to lay you off 3 months into the job if circumstances dictated. I'd say go for it.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:23 AM on October 11, 2009 [5 favorites]

Someone left at my work after only a few months. I think people understand that sometimes a place doesn't work out, isn't a good fit for you, or whatever. If you know already that you'll be unhappy at your current job long-term b/c of the location, and the other job is something you know/believe you'll truly love, then I'd take the plunge to the new job. I'd also try to give the new employer some productive time of my own before, if possible. You also have a convenient explanation - you thought the city would work out for you but you realized that you don't want to be in that location long-term, whereas you know you could live at XYZ company's location long-term. You're a human being, not just a cog. And hopefully, everyone you work with considers themselves to be human beings too, not just cogs, and they will be understanding.

Before you go, though, be sure as you can reasonably be that the new job won't be miserable. Sounds like the only way it could be is if the company's infrastructure or people are awful, since the job itself will be the same (at least if it is as they describe it to you).
posted by lorrer at 8:25 AM on October 11, 2009

Seriously, go.
posted by downing street memo at 8:30 AM on October 11, 2009

If XYZ gave you the opportunity, they probably think you can handle it. Pack up and go!
posted by motsque at 8:34 AM on October 11, 2009

Don't burn any bridges when you leave, but I'd take the new opportunity.

As Wordwoman said, if it came down to it, your current company would most likely not be as loyal to you as you appear to be to it.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:36 AM on October 11, 2009

Go for it, as long as you're really sure that you will like the job (work you do, environment etc) as much as you like your current job. Try to help out your current company when leaving -- if they want you to stay longer to train the next person, say, try to start at the new company later.
posted by jeather at 8:42 AM on October 11, 2009

Go for it. As backwards guitar said, don't burn any bridges at your current place, but as long as you are up front and behave decently - good hand over, training you replacement, not leaving them in the lurch, then you're good to go.
Do however, have the new contract signed and in your hands before you quit your current employer.
posted by arcticseal at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wait, why wouldn't you go? I don't see any negatives, except your new coworkers being "irked," and really, screw them. You're going to regret it if you don't.
posted by desjardins at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just did a similar thing after four months,except that it was within the same city. There were no hard feelings, everyone's a grown up and knows that you have to do the best thing for your career. I just ran into two co-workers who were at my old job and they were happy to see me and wanted to know how my new job was going.
posted by octothorpe at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2009

Since you've admitted you have no business experience (only academic), one invaluable piece of advice is that businesses should not be treated like human beings. Businesses will fire you at the drop of a hat. The loyalty that they project is nothing short of disingenuous; companies are heartless.

You must always put yourself first and make sure you do that in a very tactful way. If you have an opportunity to advance your career, go for it. Reserve your loyalty for your friends and family.
posted by pwally at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2009

As long as you didn't sign a contract specifying how long you'd have to stay before you left your current position, go for it. Do it professionally. Write up a really, really positive resignation letter and have a private meeting with your immediate supervisor. Discuss how great you think your position is and how great you think all your co-workers are, and then state that you simply cannot pass up this opportunity. It's everything you've ever dreamed of and you're very sad to be leaving but you'll be happy to help train your replacement (if that's part of your job).

Your co-workers should understand, and if they don't, well....that's their problem.
posted by cooker girl at 9:48 AM on October 11, 2009

Did your current company pay relocation for you? You may need to reimburse that depending on the terms of your relocation agreement.

That said - go.
posted by 26.2 at 10:11 AM on October 11, 2009

Go for it. Three months is within the is-this-going-to-work-out phase for both of you. In addition, if XYZ is really so great, your coworkers will understand you wanting to take the opportunity. Perhaps you can offer to finish some things up under contract work after you leave, or something, in order to make the transition easier on them.

You do want to make sure that XYZ is in just as good, or better, financial shape then current company.
posted by min at 10:19 AM on October 11, 2009

Take the job. The kind of loyalty you're displaying here is never, ever rewarded.
posted by rhizome at 11:43 AM on October 11, 2009

As long as you give reasonable notice, it should be fine. Obviously employers would like good employees to stick around for a bit, but you can't make life decisions based on what is best for a company, if it conflicts with what's best for you, and professionals understand that. Take the new job, give at least 2 weeks notice, and celebrate this next chapter in your life. Congratulations and good luck!
posted by katemcd at 1:21 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Without knowing details about the nature of your job or industry its hard to comment, but here's my .02...

First, cover your ass. That means do the following:

1. Carefully review any paperwork you may have signed as part of taking a job at this company you are at now. If you signed any sort of noncompete, and this new position you want could potentially violate it, see an employment lawyer before doing anything further. It would really suck to quit for this new job and move only to find out your new company refuses to honor their offer to you because when they called to verify salary at your current company, they were told of your noncompete.

2. As a condition of hiring you, make sure the new company would be willing to give you a reasonable amount of time to wrap up anything you are involved in. Again, without knowing details of your current position or how key you are to your existing team, this could mean the standard two weeks, or it might mean a full month if you need to train a replacement in a highly technical area. Your new company will probably appreciate the care you are taking to leave your current position since that makes them think you'll do the same for them.

Now that you've covered your ass, I think the best way to drop the bomb with your current company is to not make it about them, but make it about the location (unless this new company is in a very similar city).

"Its been a few months for me in both a new city and while I really have enjoyed the work environment here, this city just isn't working for me and thus I've decided to take a position somewhere that might be a better fit for my living needs."

At the end of the day, its not the end of the world to have your first true business experience outside academia not be usable as a reference if you have an amazing reference from this new company and I'd go for it no matter what. If the issue ever comes up in a future interview just explain that it was a dream opportunity that unfortunately came along a couple months too late and you did what was necessary in order to seize the opportunity and you did everything possible to make for a smooth transition out of the old place.
posted by Elminster24 at 1:30 PM on October 11, 2009

follow-up from the OP
I should have been a bit more clear about my concerns -- not just that my co-workers would be "irked". My current position is in a very small, close knit group in the company that hires infrequently and hasn't laid anyone off in the past ten years. A big reason that this department exists is as a source/screen for talent who will eventually move into upper management at the company. My current employer has more "invested" in the expectation that I will have a future there, so to speak, than for a typical employee. Still, I am employed at-will and do not have a contract.
posted by jessamyn at 1:55 PM on October 11, 2009

All the more reason to go.

Three months is a pittance. Imagine how "irked" they'll be if they invest 3 years in you and you have no interest in staying it that location.

Occasionally, even if you are rigorous in your candidate selection, you end up with someone who won't fit. Better to end it immediately.
posted by 26.2 at 2:19 PM on October 11, 2009

Again, if you don't go, you're going to wish you had, and you can't give your employer 100% when you're wishing you were somewhere else. It's not that much different from a romantic relationship in that sense - in either case, you shouldn't stick around just for the other party's benefit.
posted by desjardins at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2009

26.2: "All the more reason to go.

Three months is a pittance. Imagine how "irked" they'll be if they invest 3 years in you and you have no interest in staying it that location.

This is a great point--you don't want to settle there, and the job is a "settling" type of job.
posted by kathrineg at 3:04 PM on October 11, 2009

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