I Regret My New Job: Now What?

Young businesswoman holding box of personal belongings about to leave office after quitting job stock photo
FabrikaCr / iStock.com

The Great Resignation sent workers across the country packing up and shipping out in search of greener pastures, but a whole lot of those workplace refugees quickly realized that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the hill. 

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“Many people have started a new job and then, after starting their new role, have realized that it is not a good fit for them,” said Brian Vander Waal, a career coach and employment counselor. “Perhaps they were misled by the role profile, during the interview process or they encountered hidden aspects of the culture, company or work after starting.” 

No matter how you wound up there, if you’re at a new job that you wish you had never started, prepare to hear a whole lot of conflicting advice on what to do next. 

The Argument for Ripping Off the Band-Aid 

One school of thought says you should make a break for the exit the moment you realize your new job isn’t a fit. Once you’ve already resigned in your head, after all, every minute spent on the clock after that is wasted time. 

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“If you start a new job and find it misaligned with your career, I believe, you should decide quickly to quit the job,” said Ronald Williams, founder of BestPeopleFinder.

“Maybe two weeks is enough to understand the pros and cons of a new job. And, if you plan to quit, be honest about the reason — and communication must always be made with the immediate manager, in a cordial and sincere manner. Be transparent, have a meeting with HR, be brief about the reasons, and make a clean exit without burning bridges.”

The Argument for Waiting It Out

Another perspective: By accepting the job, you took on an obligation to your new employer and to yourself to stick around long enough to try to make it work. Also, future hiring managers probably will frown upon an in-and-out workplace stint. 

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“You should not quit right away when looking for a new job,” said Pauline Delaney, resume expert and career coach at CV Genius. “There are multiple factors that come into play. The reputation of being a job hopper is not a commendable one for anyone. Companies take this factor into consideration when hiring individuals.” 

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A Lot Depends on Your Work History

Most of the experts GOBankingRates interviewed agreed that two years is the minimum amount of time you should spend at a new job — historically speaking, at least. 

Many others consider that to be dated advice. Millennials, they say, took the stigma out of job hopping years ago, then the pandemic threw the old rules out the window. Short stays at several jobs are no longer deal-breakers, these experts say. 

The truth: A lot depends on your record up to now. You probably can take a mulligan if this is a one-off aberration, but most hiring managers still will be sure to weed out serial job hoppers. 

“Stuff happens, and if you do not have a consistent history of changing jobs every year or many times in under a year, then it’s not really something to worry about,” said Brenda Neckvatal, author and HR leader for DRL Products. “If you have a history of changing jobs every two years, then you are likely going to be passed over for a candidate who has demonstrated greater longevity in their work history.”

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You Can Look for Something Better While You Grind It Out

Many career experts think it’s simply not prudent to leave any job, no matter how miserable you may be, until you have another one lined up. Keep the job and the steady paycheck, this theory goes, but make finding a new job your part-time gig on the down low so you have something to move on to.

“It’s actually a great way to find a new job and prevent yourself from job hopping,” said Amira Irfan, business coach and founder of A Self Guru. “So yes, you should keep your current job but also look for a better fit on the side. The moment a good opportunity presents itself, make sure to avail it. This way, you’ll instantly have a new job once you leave the old one.” 

Job Hunting While You Work Does Have Its Drawbacks

Other experts feel that clinging to a job that you know you plan to leave while searching for a new one in your spare time represents the worst of both worlds: You’re indefinitely stuck in a job you don’t like while also preparing to sneak-attack an employer who took a chance on you.

“The fastest way to anger a company leader is to accept a position, continue searching for another job, only to turn around two to three months later and leave without communicating that you’re unhappy or the position wasn’t the right fit for you,” Neckvatal said.

“Employers put a great deal of effort — both financial and time — into recruiting, interviewing and developing an offer. If the intention of the candidate is to only stay for a short time while looking for something else, it’s viewed as unprofessional. It’s a small world, and remember this: You never know when your paths will cross again.”

Consider Pursuing a New Role in the Same Company

Before you quit or start looking elsewhere, consider a third option: staying with the company, if you like it, but in a different role.

“If you really feel that the job is not for you, what you can do next is ask if there is any other opening in the same company,” said Emma Gordon, founder of USSalvageYards. “There are some companies that do job rotation to their employees, and there are also some that have internal vacancies.”

Well, That’s a Whole Lot of Conflicting Advice 

It would be nice if there were one right answer, but this subject consists entirely of gray area. The right thing to do depends on your financial situation, your field, industry, work history, skill level, experience and, of course, the severity of the reasons behind your disdain for the job.

“Considering that quitting a job is a highly personal decision that depends on individual circumstances, the most important questions to ask yourself are whether you can afford to quit and whether the job presents an immediate threat to your safety or well-being,” said Ana Colak Fustin, career coach and founder of ByRecruiters.

“If the job is simply different from what you expected, staying there while looking for new opportunities is a better option from the financial point of view. However, if you’re experiencing harassment, witnessing unethical behavior or feeling in danger, these are the ultimate signs that it’s time to get out — quickly.”

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.

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