Jobs that are okay to leave
July 22, 2008 11:03 AM   Subscribe

What jobs are (relatively) okay to leave after a short time?

I'm having a tough time psyching up to apply for jobs because I'm not sure I'll stay long. Likely reasons for quitting would be needing to leave the (geographic) area or figuring out what I really want to do and pursuing that. Right now I just need to be working - not in a dream job but something that doesn't make me want to stab myself or others (for me this eliminates telemarketing and probably most call center jobs.)

I know, for example, that the restaurant/food service industry tends to have high turnover rates and lots of people leave after a few months. What (if any) other jobs can I apply for, knowing that I could quit without guilt and/or leaving my employer particularly high and dry? I would absolutely give two weeks' notice and do whatever I could to help train a replacement.

I know temp work seems like an obvious solution, but in my experience it's tough to find temp positions that are short term and not open-ended or temp-to-hire.

I'm in the US, if it matters, with three years of college but no niche career skills.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Call centers.
posted by pieoverdone at 11:14 AM on July 22, 2008

posted by pieoverdone at 11:14 AM on July 22, 2008

posted by bluejayk at 11:19 AM on July 22, 2008

Temp agencies are hardcore exploiters, why would you feel guilty about leaving them? Seriously, on first blush my answer to your question is "all of them." However, it sounds more like you're trying to avoid becoming attached to a job, which is a strange way of dealing with not knowing what you want to do.
posted by rhizome at 11:28 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know temp work seems like an obvious solution, but in my experience it's tough to find temp positions that are short term and not open-ended or temp-to-hire.

It might be timing or a particular market, but I didn't have that experience at all. I worked for more than a couple years never staying in a position more than 3 months. You might try calling around different agencies and picking their brains about whether they have many of these sorts of short, defined term jobs, because they are out there (covering vacations, maternity and other medical leaves, special projects). I didn't work quite full time but it was close. I was really clear from the outset that I didn't want indefinite term or temp-to-hire work.

Depending on how your mind works there is also industrial temporary, which seemed to me to be even more prone to transient workers. Factory work is menial and repetitive and it kills your body over time but if you have a lot of mental inner resources it's a total zone-job that can utterly lack most of the interpersonal BS of office jobs. I should say I had the inner resources for about 6 months of it, all told, I found office work a softer berth.

Beyond that, honestly: turnover is a constant reality at all lower-level clerical and labor jobs. Reception, file clerking, data entry, food service, factories, warehouses: leaving after a few months, half a year or a year are not going to be a big shock to anyone. I doubt managers ever want to lose a competent employee in a necessary position, but dealing with it is their job and why they earn much more than you will.

I've found sometimes in an interview the desire to have someone who's at least theoretically open to staying long term is clearly communicated. I would feel bad taking such a job with a clear unstated intention of leaving in a short period. Then again, employers want to have this "at will" employment world where almost everyone works without a contract, so in an emergency, you know. Fuck 'em.
posted by nanojath at 11:33 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

it's been my experience that in order to get a temp gig you have to be prepared to lie about certain aspects of your work. as an example, the temp gig i worked at brought me here intending for me to be a full time call center employee, in a long term situation that maybe might result in a hire. if i had told them that i was planning on cutting back to part time in 3 months, i never would have been presented to the client. but after 3 months, the client was willing for me to cut my hours when i asked.

most emp gigs are pretty damn dull and are things that people don't want to do in the first place. i was also able to dodge the drudgery of being issued a callstack at this job, but i'm not always so lucky.
posted by lester at 11:34 AM on July 22, 2008

Take a temp-to-hire position. They won't be surprised if you quit suddenly. I've flat-out told temp agencies "I need something for the summer" or "I need something for the next month or two, but I'm in school full-time in the fall" and they've placed me in temp-to-hire positions. Don't feel bad about fucking them over, seriously. This is what they were made for.
posted by booknerd at 11:39 AM on July 22, 2008

You can leave any job you want after any period of time you want. If it looks too short, just leave that one off your resume next time. There is zero reason quitting a job should make you feel guilty, unless you're an irreplaceable, key employee. Which as a college kid with no specific skills, isn't something you'll need to worry about for a long, long time.

Give them enough advance notice that they can find someone to replace you; that's all you need to be concerned about.

in my experience it's tough to find temp positions that are short term and not open-ended or temp-to-hire.

Either your experience is really odd, or the temp world has changed a lot since I did it way back when... nearly everything was short term; open-ended or long-term jobs were very much the exception. And even if they were long-term, you could still leave; the whole point of temps is that they're, well, temporary, and easily replaceable.

Entry-level work of any type is nearly the same -- if somebody sticks around too long in an entry-level job, there's something wrong.
posted by ook at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2008

I wouldn't feel bad about taking a job and then leaving after a short amount of time. Especially if you are in your twenties or even thirties, most employers expect at this point to be working with people that may be in transient points in their lives. While an employer might be disappointed, you don't really owe them anything, unless you sign a contract. Just try to leave on good terms, and explain that you found other opportunities, and employers will generally understand this. Then you could still get a reference, or even a job back some day, if needed.
posted by Rocket26 at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2008

Food industry.
posted by jmd82 at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2008

I think using any previous experience in base jobs here would be helpful- what did you do in highschool that you could apply to the present? Things that you've done before- say, waiting tables, would make you a valuable employee for the time that you are employed. You wouldn't require a ton of training, you'd be decent at what you do, and you're resonsible enough to give two weeks.

If I ever need to, I think I'd go back to working in a coffee shop. Or a video store. Both were pretty decent jobs that I'd feel confident returning to (plus most have an at least average turn-over).
posted by gracious floor at 2:15 PM on July 22, 2008

Some call-centers will treat call-verification as an entry-level position you can go straight into. You simply sit and listen to calls, ticking boxes on a checklist for the good (mentioning product name, being polite) and bad (swearing, giving up to easily) things that callers do. It's a lot less stressful than actually making calls.
posted by K.P. at 3:58 PM on July 22, 2008

I know this is not an option yet for you, but substitute teaching is a decent option for those with four-year degrees (and depending on your state's rules).
posted by trouserlouse at 6:57 PM on July 22, 2008

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