How to Quit a Job You Shouldn't Have Taken
Financial stress and societal pressures can be huge motivating factors when it comes to the jobs we choose. What we love to do and the jobs we can find do not always overlap. Additionally, it can be difficult to be completely honest with ourselves about the things and environments we need to really thrive in the workplace. These can all be contributing factors in accepting a job offer our guts may have been warning us not to take. So what do you do when you’ve already signed the dotted line, but it becomes clear on the first day that your gut was right and you shouldn’t have taken the job?
Take a Moment to Breathe
As you feel panic start to set in at the thought that you may be stuck in a job you hate for the foreseeable future, take a moment to calm yourself down and breathe. This will help you clear your head and better be able to evaluate your situation. No good decision is motivated by panic or quick impulses, so wait until you are calm before making any big decisions.
Be Sure It’s not Just the Jitters
Changing your work situation is tough. It shakes up your entire routine and daily life, adding a ton of stress to your mind and body. Learning new software, new co-workers, new routes to work, new rules, new environments and management styles can feel so overwhelming you are convinced you’ve made the world’s biggest mistake. Try to honestly evaluate your new situation and get to the bottom of how you are feeling. If it’s simply new-kid jitters, stick it out.
Listen to Your Gut
While it’s important not to let panic or the fish-out-of-water feeling cause you to have a knee-jerk reaction, also be sure not to logic your intuition in to silence. We have feelings for a reason. They are barometers for us to measure what is going on in and around us. If your internal alarm is going off like crazy, listen to it. It’s telling you something.
Call Your Old Boss
It can be extremely embarrassing to do so, but if you left your previous employer respectfully and gracefully, give your old boss a call and see what the odds are of getting your old job back. It’s a very humbling experience to have to tell someone you made the wrong judgement call, but we’ve all been there. Sometimes we make mistakes for a myriad of reasons, and a reasonable person will understand that and hear you out. Be prepared for a “no,” but a “yes” is not entirely out of the cards. Just be aware that if your old boss does take you back, you will have to re-earn their trust to establish reliability and not be seen as a flight risk.
Think of Ways to Improve Your Situation
What would make your new job better for you? A cubicle with a window? Being able to work from home a couple days a week? Free lunch? A more flexible schedule? Having more contact with people? Having less contact with people? Don’t hesitate to ask for some of the things you need to make your working life more bearable. You spend the majority of your waking hours at your job and owe it to yourself to try and make them as comfortable as possible.
Seize the Opportunity
Perhaps this could be the push you need to get in to freelancing, consulting, or working for yourself in some other capacity. Maybe what this experience has taught you is that your ultimate happiness will come from working for yourself. If that’s the case, go all in. Pour your time and energy in to your entrepreneurial endeavor and don’t look back.
Be Aware of the Consequences
Quitting so soon after a new hire will almost certainly burn your bridge with the new company who hired you and anyone you have been building a relationship with there. Be aware of this, and factor it in to your decision. Can you afford to lose the connections with the people and the company you want to leave?
In an age where “ghosting” has become a widespread way to avoid uncomfortable face-to-face encounters, quitting courteously is even more essential. After the time and effort that went in to finding you, hiring you, and (possibly) training you, you owe your new boss the courtesy of your reasoning. Explain as well as you are able and offer to stay until a replacement is found. It will likely be an uncomfortable conversation, but in the long run it is much better to part ways as amicably as possible.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
It takes courage to be able to admit your mistakes, especially in front of your managers, colleagues, and people whom you want to like and respect you. It will be uncomfortable and a little embarrassing, but it’s okay that you made a bad judgement call. You will do better next time.
Learn Your Lesson
Be mindful in your future job searches about why this job was the wrong fit for you, and why you were still tempted to take it. Understanding what you need to thrive in a job and identifying that no amount of money can make up for day after day of abject misery will help you to choose more wisely in the future.