Should I try to leave a job I started in the past few months?
April 8, 2011 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I started a new job a month ago but it's turned out to be totally different than what I expected - and I want out. I'm within the three month probation period, but how hard is it going to be to find a new job? More questions inside.

I'm in software development. I got out of my last job after more than three years because the company had no big projects and it felt like the ship was going down, and also because I was working from home all the time, and the lack of socialization was really getting to me. I took a new job that got me out of the house and working on some new stuff (specifically, different web framework).

Here I am a month later, and I'm really unhappy. No one in my new company talks to each other; they all just put their heads down, get the work done, and say nothing. They don't go out to lunch, and I'm more or less ignored unless I'm needed for something. Further, I really don't like the stuff I'm learning to do, and on top of all that, my supervisor is not the most pleasant guy, and I get the sense I'm constantly disappointing him. He's the micromanaging type, and treats me with a sort of general disdain. I know I have to prove myself, but this seems it's too much. In short, the position is really not at all what I thought it would be.

I'm currently working on something that won't end until this month, so I'm not going anywhere until then. But after that, what should I do? What can I do? I've spoken to two recruiters, and they both said that I should at least stick it out for a few months, and then maybe start looking. But how soon? Is three months enough time (to at least get past the probation period)? Six months? A year? No one seems to know. The more I talk about the position I'm in, the more upset it makes me.

More questions: How much will it hurt my chances to try to find a new job if employers see that I've only been there a few months (though my previous job was much longer)? Surely I can explain to them in the interview that it wasn't a good fit, but will I even get in the door? How can I explain it other than "the job wasn't a good fit"? Should I try to do this on my own, or go through a recruiter? Will doing the latter help to get around leaving a job this shortly, given that they often have a relationship with employers?

I'm really stuck here, and I would appreciate any help anyone could offer. I can PM people as necessary, I suppose, but I'm trying to do this anonymously for now.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Being unhappy isn't worth it. If you can financially leave and survive while you find a new job, do it now. If you can't financially leave and survive, continue doing a good job at this place, but look for a new job.

Don't list this place on your resume if you're worried that it looks bad.
posted by cmm at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's eerie reading your post, because I was in this exact same situation, down to the silence and the micromanaging, last August. You know what I did? I just quit. Walked out one day and never went back. I sent an email after I got home explaining that I wasn't coming back, mailed in my key, and never looked back. It was the scariest thing I've ever done, but the job was so miserable I didn't really even worry about what was next - I just needed out.

I was in the job for a total of five months and didn't list that job on my resume. It took me a couple months to find a new job, but I can't even tell you how much better I felt after I left.

Feel free to memail or email me if you want more details (if for no other reason than so I can satisfy myself that of the 350 million people in this country, you aren't the person that filled my position at the place I worked), but yeah, I'd quit. Your sanity is more important than anything.
posted by pdb at 2:28 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

If your resume made you look like a job-hopper, this might be a problem, but you were three years with your last employer. I think it's perfectly acceptable to say to a new employer that the job isn't a good fit. I'd recommend speaking to a recruiter, because they've come across this problem before and know exactly how to pitch it to a new employer.
posted by essexjan at 2:28 PM on April 8, 2011

I don't know where you are, but in general it's a good market for finding software development jobs. If you're competent at all, you shouldn't have much of a problem. So: calm down and breathe.

If you don't think your current position is going to get any better, and there's no other reason to stay, then leave. It will feel better to make a decision than to hang around and waffle.

"The job wasn't a good fit" is a totally acceptable reason for leaving. The fact that you lasted only a few months is actually positive--it means you know what you want, are clear about whether you're getting it or not, and are decisive about taking action.

I think the question of whether or not to work with a recruiter is an orthogonal issue. Might make sense in your market, might not, but your tenure at your current job has little to do with it. (Personally I think they're highly overrated, and prefer to manage job searches myself, but that's just me...)
posted by xil at 2:32 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

you know, reading your description and assuming you can afford to, I'd say quit and when anyone ever asks you about this job in an interview tell them exactly what you told us here. the job was totally different from what they had sold you on, the lack of communication, the micromanagement, the disdain. that you value all this and acted upon its lacking says a lot about you. it says you have a spine.

so yes, you can quit but you have to own it when asked about it. no apologies.
posted by krautland at 2:37 PM on April 8, 2011

To further elaborate on your "what should I do" point, when I interviewed for subsequent jobs after leaving, I would mention in those interviews that I was a bad fit for my last job, and that was usually enough to satisfy the interviewer.

tell them exactly what you told us here. the job was totally different from what they had sold you on, the lack of communication, the micromanagement, the disdain. that you value all this and acted upon its lacking says a lot about you.

I would advise against telling the whole story of your experience in an interview setting, because it could easily be perceived as you sounding bitter or angry. Be brief, stick to the facts as much as possible, and just say something like "it was not an environment in which I felt I could succeed or contribute long-term".
posted by pdb at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2011

Finish the project, then go to the boss, and describe your unhappiness in more neutral terms. Tell him you want to leave, but don't want to leave them in the lurch. You might get fired. You might get different assignments. But you'll have the best grounds for a good reference, and you can leave without guilt. You could put this on your resume as "XYZ Group. Completed ABC project using MNO technology." Start looking now for your next job now. Always remember that employers will cheerfully treat you as a commodity; you may do the same.
posted by theora55 at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ditto what krautland and pdb say. I've been there, and that's exactly what I did.
In my next interview I described the situation in brief, factual, non-bitter terms--and got the job. I've been at that job ever since. Yes, it was scary to take the plunge and leave--but I've never looked back and I've NEVER regretted it.
Feel free to memail me for support if you want to. I wish you well!
posted by bookmammal at 2:56 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

so yes, you can quit but you have to own it when asked about it
No, you don't. You're under no obligation at all to tell a prospective employer about it. (Nor will they notice a 3-month gap, or even mention it -- 3 mos is a blink of the eye nowadays.)
posted by LonnieK at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it's only been one month, just start interviewing and pretend you've never had this job. You don't have to talk about it.

I did the same thing at a job after three weeks, although I didn't wait to get another job before I left. I had money saved up and knew that the job and company were very different from the way they were presented and were unlikely to change. So I left, and no one ever talked about it ever again, at least professionally.
posted by ignignokt at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2011

If you can afford to quit now, then quit now. The shorter your time is at that job, then the easier it is for you to either leave it off your resume altogether, or explain it away as "it wasn't a good fit". The faster you get out, the less odd it will seem when you say that. I think either of those things is perfectly reasonable to do.

If you can't afford to quit now, then start looking now. Don't listen to the recruiters. Your best interests are not their best interests. If one of them is a recruiter who placed you in your new job, might they be telling you to hang on, because they don't get their signing bonus until you finish out your probationary period? Or are they saying that because they don't have anything to offer you right now, and they want to keep you on the hook for a while?

Look for new jobs now. Quit now if you can afford to. Use a recruiter if you like (some companies ONLY advertise their positions through recruiters), but definitely do some searching on your own as well. Use LinkedIn, use contacts from previous jobs, look at job boards on the sites of specific companies you might be interested in working for.
posted by Joh at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another vote for leaving it off the resume.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:35 PM on April 8, 2011

What cmm and pdb said; if you're financially able, just fucking leave. Don't list it on your resume. Just move on.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:45 PM on April 8, 2011

so yes, you can quit but you have to own it when asked about it. no apologies.

No apologies because don't list it on your CV, a month or two break between jobs is ok.
posted by the noob at 7:02 PM on April 8, 2011

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