How to quit shortly after starting?
October 24, 2011 6:40 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been at my job about three months, and while my performance is great and my colleagues and I get along well, I just don’t click with the overall culture. An offer has come my way from another company, and I’m thinking about switching jobs. Quitting any job is hard enough; how do I have this conversation with my boss without feeling (or making him feel) like my resignation is screwing over him and the organization after they’ve invested in me?

(Please, withhold any “don’t feel bad; they’d screw you over in a heartbeat” comments – I don’t agree, and it doesn’t help.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Culture is a great answer. Either they like their culture and will appreciate the fact you've figured out it isn't for you. or it'll serve as a message that it is something they need to fix.

The only reason for leaving at three months that would leave a bad taste in peoples mouths is money.
posted by JPD at 6:48 AM on October 24, 2011

I think Miko's breakup advice could be really useful here, in terms of helping you frame the resignation as positively as possible.

Basically, their culture works for lots of people--obviously if you're not fitting in, it's you, not them. They're still awesome. And you wish you could have clicked with the culture better, because they really are an awesome company.
posted by litnerd at 6:56 AM on October 24, 2011

...without feeling (or making him feel) like my resignation is screwing over him and the organization after they’ve invested in me?

But you are screwing them over, right? Just own it and be honest and professional. You've already done the calculus that tells you that the long-term consequences of quitting are outweighed by the positives that come with this other job.

I did something similar a few years ago. Just lay it out like you did here--after giving it a shot you just didn't feel like you were a fit with the company culture and another opportunity has come up. In my case, my employer was disappointed but understanding.

And put it in perspective: this "break-up" is way more important to you than it is to the company.
posted by mullacc at 6:59 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

And put it in perspective: this "break-up" is way more important to you than it is to the company.

Yes. Also, you will feel instantly better once you've gone through with the meeting and said your piece. Just do it. They'll get over it and find someone else - there are a lot of people out there looking for jobs right now.
posted by something something at 7:06 AM on October 24, 2011

I left a job partly over culture issues and in the exit interview, it was the huge elephant in the room that everyone knew the culture was toxic to me and had been for over a year--so it may be apparent to your boss already that it's not the right place for you (or you're not the right person for them), regardless of your skill.

If the culture is bad, generally, they already have some idea that the culture is bad and there's nothing you can say in the resignation/exit interview to fix it. If the culture is just bad for you, again, there is nothing you can say in the resignation/exit interview to fix it. So be professional and honest, but don't be detailed about the problems. Be detailed about anything in particular that you really enjoyed (working on Project X was a great experience because I learned to do Y and I appreciate that experience), be grateful for any training you received, but be vague and general about poor fit issues.

But there is nothing to be gained and a lot of bad blood to create in being detailed about problems. If you must, simply mention that you felt the culture did not suit you. It's better to mention that the new opportunity provides a better focus on Project Type Q that you would have less exposure to at the current place. You haven't been there long enough to need to leave a detailed transition plan for your replacement. Just go with a clear conscience because everyone is better off if you really don't work effectively in the environment.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:51 AM on October 24, 2011

Since you said three months, I think you will find that HR thinks 90 days is the probationary period for a new hire. Had they decided you were not a good fit, they would be talking to you now. It works both ways. 90 days equals no harm, no foul on either side.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:19 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you can get any flexibility from your new job on a start date, you could offer to stay on a few weeks longer than usual if that would help your current employer. Though I doubt you're super-critical to your new employer already.

You shouldn't feel bad about this. As long as there's not some project with a deadline 1 month from now, or you're not otherwise leaving them in an immediate lurch, then it's probably just as well you both get on with trying to find a better fit. Think of it like an unexpected break-up--they'll probably be a bit upset, but that doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do.

That said, are you sure you're not going to click with the overall culture? The reason job-hoppers raise red flags is that sometimes the best reaction to a first impression like this is to try and figure out a way to make it work out, not just to leave.
posted by _Silky_ at 12:03 PM on October 24, 2011

Reframe this.

Staying would be screwing them over, by denying them the chance to get an employee who does fit in the culture. Staying screws the other employees out of a comraderie that you can't provide. Staying screws the company out of a bit of (potential) increased production from that a better fitting employee would provide.

Yes. They've invested 3 months in you. They've trained you and supported you in whatever ways they can/could. But it's not enough. Why ask them to keep giving you more when it won't be enough to overcome the bad fit?

I'm not saying you should go into your supervisor's office to say "I'm doing ya'll a favor by leaving," but I am saying believing that you are will make some of the harder questions easier to answer. You appreciate the opportunity. You appreciate the experience and the lessons. You appreciate their efforts, but ultimately, you feel you have more to offer company B.

However. This comes with an enormous caveat. Do more of your due diligence on the culture of company B than you did with company A. Because if their cultures are similar, you have a three month hole in your resume that most people cannot afford in the current job climate. Proceed with extreme caution about accepting a job in an unknown environment.
posted by bilabial at 12:45 PM on October 24, 2011

I don't think it really matters whether they would screw you over or not. Bottom line, you're unhappy with your job. You have an offer somewhere else and you believe you'll be much happier there right? Then you must take the job. The best way to make this easier on your current employer is to give them ample time to fill the position. Be honest with them, and be respectful. Never burn it will come back to haunt you. I'm self employed, but I work with several agencies that seek out work for me. Not too long ago, one of my main agencies just wasn't conducting business in a way that I felt comfortable with. They were a great agency, but I felt the staff just wasn't my cup of tea. I had another offer from a different agency and decided to go with them. The agency I left wasn't mad at all. They could tell we weren't jiving and even said if things didn't work out with the new agency I could come back. Life is too short to continue working a job that you're not happy with. The sooner you tell your current employers that you're leaving, the better you will feel. They may be hurt and disappointed, but if you handle the situation with class and respect, it will go over much more smoothly.
posted by ljs30 at 1:43 PM on October 24, 2011

I was at a previous employer for two months. Without going into the details, I clearly did not fit into the culture that the office had. When I gave my boss my resignation letter, he told me that after about a week into my time there, they had had second thoughts about me. So whatever you're feeling, it's possible they are too.

For what it's worth, I just gave my boss my resignation letter and let him read it. It was awkward for everyone and he wasn't happy with me, but I kept reminding myself that it was the right move for me and for them.

If the other offer is appealing to you, I'd say go for it.
posted by gchucky at 8:12 PM on October 24, 2011

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