Quitting a job after 3 weeks
June 19, 2017 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I really want to quit a job after a few weeks. Help.

Here are the details about a new job I want to quit:

1. I got hired as a part-time staff person after freelancing for a very small business (basically 2 people) for a few months, which I enjoyed. My gut feeling about the staff position was "don't take it," though, which I should have listened to. I did end up taking it.
2. After only a few weeks, I have realized it was totally the wrong decision and I'm feeling anxious and depressed about it. It would be a huge weight off my shoulders if I quit. I wouldn't be quitting without a job lined up -- I have freelance clients. (I have been freelancing for 3+ years from home.)
3. My boss is my neighbor and I've known her on an acquaintance basis (not really friend) for a few years. I wouldn't call us friends at this point but we get along fine. I would probably see her around the neighborhood now and then but we wouldn't have to interact regularly.
4. I'm figuring it's better to quit now, very early on, rather than in a few months or longer. Right?
5. There was a person in this new position before me, and she also lasted a few months (?) -- she was fired.

This is driving me crazy. I'm not worried about burning bridges or anything, because I won't want to work for this person/business again and I'm not worried about her badmouthing me to potential local clients because my clients usually aren't local, but I'm feeling terrible about this and really guilty. I am a people-pleaser most of the time and that makes this kind of thing so difficult. I think my boss is going to be shocked. However, she is realistic about people leaving -- she paid for me to take a webinar (it was only like $20) and asked me to share the info with her "in case you leave me" or some remark like that.

How bad should I feel about this? How do I present my decision to her without her trying to keep me on by changing things about the job or whatever? I just want to leave.
posted by trillian to Work & Money (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just leave, and tell her that you've realized you aren't suited for non-freelance work, which will save face if the real reason is specific to her or her business.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:10 PM on June 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

The big missing piece from this is why you want to quit? I am an anxious person and I want to leave EVERY job after a few weeks, always. This is not to minimize your feelings on the subject but I think people could give you some more helpful advice if you talked about what the issues are?

To your main question, you freelanced before, right? And this is new, taking a steady job? And it's only part time? I always figure that people who have you part time always have to deal with some more uncertainty than full time employers. So I wouldn't just quit because the job sucks, I'd quit because you had some realization that the restrictions placed upon you by not-freelancing are going to be a problem and you just now realized it (white lie but whatever). Sort of a variant of the "It's not you, it's me" thing. And yes, better now rather than later.

"Julie I wanted to let you know that I'm afraid I can't make having a part time "real" job and part time freelance job work for me. I have clients who can't adjust to my lack of availability and I don't want to give this job the short shrift but I can't make the scheduling work. I'll be able to work through the end of June but I'm afraid I have to give notice." (or whatever, you can make it so there's not a negotiation process)
posted by jessamyn at 2:12 PM on June 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

The big missing piece from this is why you want to quit? I am an anxious person and I want to leave EVERY job after a few weeks, always. This is not to minimize your feelings on the subject but I think people could give you some more helpful advice if you talked about what the issues are?

Fair point! One big thing is micromanagement. I won't go into details, because no one wants to read them, but I really don't think it's a new-person, training issue. (My previous bosses did not micromanage me when I was new, anyway.) I've had more than a decade in this field, as well. The other part of this problem is that she's so busy that she doesn't actually have time to be a micromanager, which means important things get delayed. She is also so busy that she hasn't been able to get me some important things I need to do my job properly (not physical things, I mean). Neither of these is likely to change, and I should have realized that there were red flags during my freelancing period.

Also, it's too many hours, even though I thought I wanted them, and she'd said she needed at least the number of hours I've been working. And after working for myself for three years, I want to go back to that. You don't know how good you have it until you don't have it anymore.
posted by trillian at 2:35 PM on June 19, 2017

Tell her "after working for myself for three years, I want to go back to that," thank her for the opportunity and then boom you're done.
posted by rtha at 3:22 PM on June 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Well of course you can't stay just to avoid hurting someone's feelings. I'd simply be honest: Freelancing is a better fit for you.

If you want to be nice and feel less guilty be flexible with the amount of notice, e.g., "I don't want to leave you in a bind; would it help if I gave three weeks notice instead of two?"
posted by mulcahy at 4:08 PM on June 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

You should feel zero bad about this. It's normal to find that you don't like a job pretty early on, and when you do, it's normal to leave it if you have the option to do so. Thank her for the opportunity, explain that after trying it out, you find it's not right for you, and give a last day.
posted by spindrifter at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

The way I think about it is, any company would fire you in a heartbeat if it was right for them. You can quit in a heartbeat if it's right for you.

Three weeks though can be too soon to know if you can make it work though. If I felt like I had the back-up clients to quit and no fear about burning bridges, I would probably actually stick with the job and feel no stress about it to see if I can make it work. I don't think you need to feel that anxious about this, unless you think you will just do a horrible job and it will take you away from the freelance clients you can do good work for.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:15 PM on June 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

What AppleTurnover said. You know that probationary period that new employees get? I've always regarded it as a mutual probationary period, in which you get to size up your new employer and decide if it's a good fit. It's not a good fit for you and the reason it's not a good fit doesn't matter. Freelancing is a better fit and that's what you will be going back to. Just keep saying this, like a broken record, when your boss tries to get you to divulge more. Don't. Just smile, repeat phrase, and get out. Also: You get gold stars for understanding your needs, acknowledging them, and then acting to meet them. That's truly adult behaviour. Go you!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:24 PM on June 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

It's fine to quit.

1. You don't owe your employer anything - anything - beyond the scope of your contract.
2. You have options after you quit - specifically, going back to freelancing.
3. There don't seem to be any negative consequences for you from quitting - your boss is not your friend, and you don't have to interact with them regularly.

Why wouldn't you quit? Tell them that it's too many hours for you, that it's not a good fit, give the required notice and walk away whistling.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:59 PM on June 19, 2017

Having done this exact thing, except it took me 6 weeks to quit (okay, 4 if you count the 2 weeks of pre-planned vacation) I agree with showbiz, pull the freelance card and simply say you loved working there but totally under-estimated how much you valued being a freelancer and the lifestyle that entails. It's the perfect out because it's the one thing they can't offer you.
posted by AllTheQuestions at 5:36 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would request a meeting with her (with a couple days' notice).

Before the meeting, use up your insurance benefits to the extent that you feel is ethical, scrub your computer and work phone as needed, and secretly take home anything precious from work just in case she's irrational / flips out / fires you on the spot.... I've seen it happen!

Arrive to the meeting with a polite smile and a resignation letter in hand.

Say: "Working here has been wonderful and I'm really grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I've realized that a freelance schedule suits me better for several reasons, and I need to transition back to that, so this is my resignation letter.

OPTIONAL: "Our agreement included a clause for 4 weeks' notice but I don't want to leave you in a tricky position, so if it's helpful to you, I am happy to work for up to 6 weeks' after today's date (up to DATE), and of course happy also to help train my replacement. I don't need to know right this second, perhaps you could let me know by Friday what you think would work."

Then hand over the letter (which says the same thing) and get outta there. Work hard for the last couple weeks, and on the last day, give her a thank you note with a bottle of something or a plant, and bring the office some cupcakes or nice chocolates too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recommend not bringing gifts. It's work.
posted by ElectricGoat at 4:58 AM on June 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thanks so much, all. Well, I did it already. I couldn't wait another day because I'd feel like I was lying to her after making my decision. Also, I was so stressed about it that I needed to get the relief of telling her. She obviously wasn't happy, but I agreed to stay on as a freelancer with a lot less time each week, working from home, doing mostly the same stuff I was doing before I was hired as staff. She said that'd be very helpful. In that situation, I don't mind the micromanagement as much ... and maybe I'll bring it up someday. Like I said before, it's a huge weight off my shoulders! Thanks again.

Here's what I wrote, in case it helps anyone else. Not sure if she read the whole thing when I told her, but I was comfortable what I wrote at least.

Dear [boss],

After having worked for myself for more than three years before I joined [company], I’ve made the decision to go back to that, and leave this position. Please know that I didn’t make this decision lightly. While this is a great job and an opportunity I was genuinely excited about, and I really enjoy working with you, I’ve realized that my previous situation of being 100% freelance (multiple clients and projects; working from wherever, whenever; different schedule from week to week) is a better fit. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it until I returned to being an employee.

I am giving my two weeks’ notice today and can work through the end of the month: Friday, June 30. No matter what, I will type up my notes for the next person in this position, finish writing up [thing], and finish the [other thing].

If it’d be helpful, I’m willing to continue working on the [tasks] that I was focusing on from [time I was freelancing] with the setup we had before, but I understand if that’s not an option—for example, if you’d like my replacement to take over those tasks. Just let me know what you prefer.

Thanks so much for this opportunity.


posted by trillian at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

Nicely done.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:50 PM on June 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

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