Quitting a new job...
April 27, 2013 7:57 PM   Subscribe

How best to dump my new job for my newer job?

Several months ago I decided to stop freelancing and went on a serious job search. After a couple months of resume-mailing & interviewing, I was offered a decent job with good pay that is marginally in my field. I didn't see it as a great career move but a man's gotta eat.

The day after I accepted this job (let's call it Meh Job) I heard back from another position I'd applied for (let's call it Great Job!), asking me for an interview, which I went to. A few days ago Great Job offered me the position.

Problem is, I've been working at Meh Job for a month. I don't love it here, and I'll be happy to leave. Great Job is better than Meh Job in every way — type of work, organization, co-workers, commute, salary, benefits. But I don't want to burn bridges and I don't want to screw Meh over, and I do feel grateful to Meh for hiring me for a position I wasn't exactly qualified for in such a bad economy. Other relevant details: though I'm not deep in any major projects with them right now, I am in the middle of a very small project for them that only I am working on.

What's my best course of action in quitting Meh Job? Have you been in this situation as either the abandoning employee or the abandoned employer? What's the classiest/least disruptive way out?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You resign. You've not been there long enough to do real damage to your reputation, unless you're leaving something out of your question. You go to your supervisor, and say, "Kate, I've been putting a lot of thought into it, and I just don't feel like Widget Co. is the right fit for me. I've given it a chance over the past month, and it's really just not what I'd imagined. My last day will be [two weeks from now], which will give me enough time to bring someone up to speed on Project. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help ease this transition."

If they ask you what you're going to do instead, the answer is, "I'm going to try something else." You don't have to volunteer that you've accepted another position, or with whom. Be warm, thankful for the opportunity, and sad that it didn't work out. Stay classy. It was a job! You were grateful for it! You still are. You ate this month.

*Note: Don't resign until you have a signed offer letter in hand from the better job! Just because they've offered it to you doesn't mean you've formally accepted it. You still have to hammer out pay, benefits, start date, etc. Once you get it in hand, then you can resign your current job.

It's okay not to put a one-month-long job on your resume, for future reference. You weren't there long enough for it to impact anything.
posted by juniperesque at 8:03 PM on April 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

Don't think too hard about this. Do whatever you can to set up your successor for success (heh) - document your work, leave clear instructions, etc. But you need to take better job, and you need to let these folks know it hasn't worked out. Agreed that you need your official offer letter before taking action, though.
posted by Miko at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2013

I don't think there's any way that Meh is going to feel cheery about you leaving the job one month in.

That said, I don't see the truth as problematic here. "Hey Kate, I'm sorry to tell you but I have to leave. An offer came through from another company, and it's a big step up in salary, benefits, and prestige. It is a great opportunity. I'm going to take it. You guys were cool and I'm a little sad that we didn't get more of a chance to work together."

(I'd leave out the part about Great having a better organization and co-workers, though.)

Don't get hung up on finishing the very small project. Don't give the impression that your decision is negotiable.

If they're reasonable grown ups they'll understand--perhaps grumpily. Nothing you can say will get them out of having to find your replacement, so I wouldn't study too hard looking for the perfect words. Enjoy your new job at Great.
posted by mattu at 9:44 PM on April 27, 2013

I think it's a common response on Meta to point out that employers don't think twice about cutting loose someone who is not a good fit, so you shouldn't beat yourself up about the reverse situation. I agree with the previous posters that you should sign your papers and make sure everything is a done deal with the new job and also that it would be great to give your current employer a two-week notice. Aside from that, I think honesty is best so they know there isn't a personal problem-- just tell them you've accepted an offer that is a better fit with your talents.
posted by Eicats at 11:01 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's no way to get out of this without burning a bridge, so you're going to have to accept the damage that this choice is going to do to your reputation with Meh.

You should be prepared for the possibility that they will cut you loose on the spot.

And no, you should never expect to use these folks as a reference in the future.
posted by DWRoelands at 4:06 AM on April 28, 2013

You've got to build a bridge before you can burn it. You've got a bridge made of vines, recycled barn siding, and some apathetic engineering. Secure (SECURE!) the Great job, and strike a match.

Make it clear that you've got no ill will, just that you weren't a good fit and a better opportunity came along. (Assuming those things are true.)
posted by Sunburnt at 10:38 AM on April 28, 2013

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