Quitting a new job after 2 months...please hope me!
March 27, 2012 4:02 PM   Subscribe

I just hit the two month mark at my new job. I am miserable, due primarily to doing the work of about 3 people and the company culture (it's a small, family run business, and the two sons who are taking over the company in the next 2 years ran down the public hallway cursing each other out and hitting one another yesterday, to the point that one of them left with his face bleeding and we had to talk a tenant down the hall out of calling the cops). I've decided to leave, despite not having another job lined up. a) What's the best way to do this, and b) How do I spin it to potential employers?

I am relatively new to the working world - graduated college in '09, started working at a local office shortly there after, laid off from that job in March of '11. Decided to go to pastry school (April 11-Oct 11). Realized during the program that it is not for me (unfortunately, I don't know what is for me, but that's another question!)

Job hunted & interviewed throughout the winter, finally landed an office position in January. The first two weeks, I was just thrilled to be getting paid.

Ever since, though, it's been awful - it is a small, family run company - I am 1 of 4 non-family employees. They are working with a consultant to try to grow the business and make it more professional, but none of the family running it is actually making any changes. Additionally there's work enough for 3 people to be done daily, plus playing catch-up from 30 years of poor business management, and they aren't willing to hire anyone else to help with the workload - in the meantime, I have constant stress headaches and stomach pains from anxiety every day.

My current plan is to tell my supervisor tomorrow that I intend to resign and give four weeks notice. (I know that is a long time, and they may well kick me out before that, but considering that I don't have anything else lined up yet and they are so slow moving that they need that amount of time to get someone else in the door...) Additionally, I don't think they have a clue about it, and they will be very upset that I am leaving - I am constantly lauded as a great addition to the team. They are not malicious people, just shouldn't be running a business.

TLDR - whether it is the right decision or not, I can't stay there and am quitting.

1) Should I give a resignation letter?

2) Should I tell them more than "it's not a good fit"? (My supervisor was hired a few months before me to start "fixing" the company, she is also seemingly unhappy with the family craziness.)

3) When writing my cover letter for new job applications, I want to explain the unemployed-pastry-school time & the only-two-months-at-my-new-job in the best possible light...I feel like either one could be explained on their own, but maybe not together.

Any help is appreciated. Thank you for reading.
posted by firei to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It is much more difficult to get a job if you are not presently employed. Do you have insurance? Go to a doctor and get medication for your anxiety, and apply for jobs while you're still employed.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:08 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

TLDR - whether it is the right decision or not, I can't stay there and am quitting.

If you are willing to give 4 weeks notice, I heartily encourage you to spend two weeks applying for new jobs while employed and then give 2 weeks notice. Employed people are still more employable than unemployed people.

To answer your other questions, in my cover letter I would refer to pastry school as "furthering my education" and to the two months at your new job as "putting the skills and talents my employer values in my current role to work in an opportunity with more advancement opportunity."
posted by DarlingBri at 4:10 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

DarlingBri, I think I know what you mean by that second suggested sentence, but it's not quite clear. Care to re-phrase?

I agree with the suggestion to start looking and give two weeks notice in two weeks if you must get out now (and I've been in a must get out now situation before).
posted by ocherdraco at 4:12 PM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: Not thread-sitting, I promise: I should have mentioned I started applying for new jobs last week. Thanks!
posted by firei at 4:13 PM on March 27, 2012

You do not have to state why you're leaving. Give notice, thank them for the opportunity, and wish them well.

I agree that you should start your job search, give yourself a deadline for resigning, and resign at that point whether you have a new job or not.

On your cover letter, just say the opportunity isn't a long-term proposition. When you are asked during the interview process about your short tenure there, you can tell them that you felt like the fistfight between the principals was a strong indicator that you should reconsider your continuing employment there.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:16 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

It doesn't matter. You're 23. None of this will matter. The gaps on your resume and stuff will erode over time, and also, this job won't even make the list on your resume by 2014. And yes it's hard to find a job, particularly if you don't have one.

You're worrying too much. Your workplace is a shitshow, and you're well within your rights to tell them all about it and quit on the spot. Walk out! Go on unemployment!

And don't give four weeks notice. You don't owe these people anything. You're an employee, not a slave. If *you* want to give four weeks notice, then quit in two weeks from now and give two weeks notice.

The point being: make the best decisions for YOU right now. They are not your concern.

If anyone asks you about your short stay at the job in an interview, say "I quit on the day that one of the owners punched his brother in the face at the office." They'll be like "okay!"
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:18 PM on March 27, 2012 [15 favorites]

Walk out! Go on unemployment!

I agree with RJ, but might be very important to note that in almost all cases in the U.S., if you quit voluntarily you are not eligible for unemployment.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:30 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would wait until you line something else up before you give notice (between 2-4 weeks is ample if you've only been there for 2 months).

And..... tell them the truth, they need to hear it in order to improve their business & I think they will treat you & the other staff (and themselves) with more respect if their staff start telling them that the current management is not building a positive culture.

Is there anything stopping you having an honest conversation with them? Imagine how much better you will feel that you faced it head on, and how much better they will feel that you respected them enough to tell them to pull up their socks for the sake of the business. You may even find the situation improves. Things won't improve if problems aren't communicated. If they don't like to hear what you're saying, it doesn't matter - your looking for work anyway.

Also agree with DarlingBri on how to explain the changes in your cover letter. If a prospective employer presses you during interview for more explanation then I agree with Lyn Never's approach.
posted by Under the Sea at 4:38 PM on March 27, 2012

PS, tell the current employers the truth.
posted by Under the Sea at 4:39 PM on March 27, 2012

When someone asks why you spent only 2 months at your last job, say, "I know it's not good in an interview to say negative things about your previous employer, but the brothers who ran the place sometimes would punch each other in the face until they bled in the workplace."

Seriously, that's, like, the best leaving-a-workplace reason ever.
posted by xingcat at 4:42 PM on March 27, 2012 [15 favorites]

Pick a date, and start searching for a job.

This article may help Planning Your Escape. But yeah, your employers punching each other in the face is a great reason to leave.

I'd preface it with - 'Officially, I'm looking for a more professional environment. Would you like to hear the unofficial reason? Unofficially, the brothers who were my employers would punch each other... etc, and I didn't feel that was a good fit me. ;)
Don't bring up too much drama, or complain about it other than that. Just succinctly state the worst bits, and then drop it forever, or if it comes up, only make comments like 'This is better than my last workplace!'.
posted by Elysum at 5:04 PM on March 27, 2012

Yeah, my usual advice is not to talk about why your previous job was so terrible that you had to quit, but this is an exception. I like Elysum's way of framing it, because that implies both that you're not ordinarily a complainer, but Jesus fuck these people were crazy!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:14 PM on March 27, 2012

"The owners beat each other up" is a fantastic interview story.
posted by rhizome at 5:35 PM on March 27, 2012

Don't go to work tomorrow! Tell the owners and the heirs apparent you fear for your safety. Since you're willing to sacrifice your job over this, you're in a great bargaining position. If you work it right, you might get paid for 4 weeks (or more) and never set foot in the office again. You might consider contacting an employment attorney.

Did the owners see this event?
posted by at at 6:12 PM on March 27, 2012

Tell your interviewers "It was a family run business and I was not part of the family."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:23 PM on March 27, 2012

The hell you CAN'T collect unemployment...while in general you can't collect if you quit, there are exceptions for "extenuating circumstances"...I'm pretty damn sure your employers punching each other falls under that category...stay safe! Do not return! Not ever! You owe them NO explanation...they KNOW why you left. If they protest your unemployment filing, fight it (usually a quick phone call from the unemployment office)...since they have to pay a portion of it, it will def make them think twice about pulling such bullshit shenanigans in the future and putting anyone else at risk of bodily harm. Laws vary by state so YMMV, but it will def be spelled out clearly on the unemployment website.
Unfortunately, I dont think this job even goes on the resume at all...but enjoy your paid vacation, you've earned it.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:31 PM on March 27, 2012

I am SOOO conflict averse. Here's how I've done it.

1. I was on great terms with everybody, but I was moving back to New York. I printed up the most super short resignation letter: "Dear person, Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation, effective [2 weeks from today]. Sincerely, me." The letter isn't to explain anything, it's just a hardcopy record that will go in your personnel file. Then I went into the Office Manger's office, said "Do you have a minute?" closed the door, and said "I have some news, I need to give my two weeks notice." I then went on to say that I was moving back to New York. She asked if there was anything they could do to get me to stay, and I said no, and that was it. I chose to give more information, but no one asked.

2. I was in a situation very similar to yours, minus the fist-fighting (although there was an inexplicable tolerance and blind-eye-turning for this guy who would throw temper tantrums in his office, screaming and cursing and punching the walls, every day). I emailed my manager, with the attached bare-bones letter of resignation, and I just said "Hi, sorry to do this over email but I am giving you my two weeks notice. My resignation letter is attached. Thank you for the opportunity you've given me." I was only in the office three days after that. Do NOT prolong your notice beyond the two weeks. You think you're doing them a favor but you're just allowing them to procrastinate finding a replacement and giving them the opportunity to harass you if they're so inclined.

But usually, and I know it seems totally against human nature, people will not push you for the reason you're leaving. Even the people who were inappropriate enough to ask whether I were married and had children during my interview (#1, a bunch of Old Gal paralegals in Texas) did not push for reasons why I was leaving. And even from #2, the unprofessional family business, I didn't get direct questions about where I was going or why I was leaving, or even the exit interview promised in the employee handbook, but I did get a lot of "SIGH, I just don't see why you'd be leaving when you're just about to be eligible for the 401k. SIGH, I just hope you're making the right choice for your future." And I'd just smile understandingly, and say nothing.
posted by thebazilist at 8:18 AM on March 28, 2012

You have just learned my number one employment rule: Never work for a family business unless you are part of the family.

Now that you know the rule and are sure never to repeat it, get out of there as quickly as possible--I'd say no more than two weeks notice.

Consider temping while you job hunt--it gives you a chance to try a bunch of different office experiences. Register with a couple of firms--if there is a company in the area you'd like to work for, call their HR department and ask what temp firm they use, it can be a good foot in the door.

Others have offered good suggestions regarding your time in school and I agree that "bloody fist fights between owners" is an awesome reason for leaving and not something that any right-minded employer would hold against you.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:35 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You guys are all fabulous. Thanks for the excellent advice!
posted by firei at 6:08 PM on March 28, 2012

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