When you experience buyer’s remorse on your way home from the shopping mall, it’s easy enough to go back and return that expensive jacket you don’t really need. But when you feel that same pang of regret on your
first day at a new job, reversing the situation is a bit trickier.
According to Patrick King, a communications expert and business author, it’s not uncommon to start a new job and immediately want to quit.
“There are three main reasons this happens,” he says. “First, because the job was a ‘fallback,’ and the dream opportunity finally pulled through … just a few days too late. Second, because of interpersonal, culture, or
‘fit’ issues. And third, because the job was misrepresented during the interview process.”
If you find yourself in one of these situations and desperately want to quit, here’s how to go about it:
Don’t act without thinking
Give it a few days (or weeks) before you decide what you really want to do.
Sure, you might be tempted to quit on the spot after you get that call from your dream employer telling you they’d like to offer you a job — but don’t.
No matter what the situation (unless, of course, your new employer is doing something illegal or entirely unethical or unsafe), take some time to consider all your options and weigh the pros and cons of staying.
“The first step is to decide whether you are reacting emotionally, or thinking objectively,” says King. “It’s often a thin line.”
The second step, he says, is to consider whether the situation will or can improve.
If the answer is “no,” follow the next six steps.
Don’t burn bridges
When a company hires you, it’s a big investment of time and money. So, chances are, they won’t be thrilled when you quit a few days in.
But don’t make things even worse by quitting in an unprofessional manner.
You never know when you might cross paths with these people again — or if you may want to return to this company later in your career — so whatever you do, don’t burn any bridges.
You may feel like you owe the new employer nothing (especially if you’re quitting because they misrepresented the role, or they’re not treating you well) but it’s always a good idea to be the bigger person.
Do it in person
“Give them the courtesy of seeing your face when you resign,” says King. “Often, emotions are misinterpreted or entirely left out over email, so do it in person to avoid misunderstanding. There are no magic tricks to avoid the inevitable negative impression or impact you’ll create, but you can at least control how you will be interpreted.”
Give at least 2 weeks notice
Again, you may not feel like you need to be loyal to this new employer, and it may be awkward to stick around after quitting days into the new gig, but one way to avoid burning bridges is to give the company some time to find a replacement.
They may tell you to leave that day (great!) but you should at least offer to stick around for the next 10 workdays.
Explain why you’ve made the decision to leave, but only say as much as you need to
Don’t point fingers and place blame. Instead, explain how you are feeling and why you’ve decided to move on. For instance, rather than, “You lied about what this job entails,” try something like, “I was under the impression the role would require A, B, and C, when in fact it involves X, Y, and Z, which I am not comfortable doing because … ”
“Try to remain objective and unemotional,” King suggests.
Offer to help find your replacement
Hopefully they can still call another top-tier candidate who was in the running for your job to offer them the position — but if not, let them know you’re happy to help find a replacement.
Leave them in a good place
After you offer to help find a replacement, also offer to assist them in re-distributing your work and with the transition.
“Leave notes for your successor or whoever will have to take over your workload,” says King. You won’t regret making the process as easy and painless as possible for everyone involved.