How Soon Is Too Soon to Leave a New Job?

You were excited to start your new job. You approached the challenges with enthusiasm, anticipated its career potential, and looked forward to meeting new people. Now you’re a couple months in and…you hate it.

The reasons for this sudden about-face can be numerous: a churlish supervisor, a chaotic open-office environment, work that’s an utter grind, and so on. Whatever the case, you’re constantly asking, “How soon is too soon to leave a new job?”

Here’s what you need to know to answer that question.

too soon leave new job

The straightforward answer

According surveys cited in the Harvard Business Review, 33 percent of new hires begin looking for another job within six months, and about 23 percent leave before their first year. Companies hoping to avoid the irrecoverable costs of training employees who bail early will look for applicants with a history of commitment.

As such, a good rule of thumb is to stay at your job for a year or two.

During that time, you’ve likely completed any probationary period and reached full productivity. This shows hiring managers that you can onboarded essential skills and performed the job with reasonable success. It also gives them confidence that you can bring that success to the company.

A work history of commitment demonstrates professionalism. A succession of jobs lasting less than a year? You run the risk of looking like a fickle, and expensive, job hopper.

When to cut your losses

However, there are times when it’s preferable to abandon a job before the paper anniversary. Looking to jump ship? Mull over these questions first.

Why do you want to leave? Have a good reason to quit. You’ll know your reason is solid if you’d tell any recruiter who asks (and they will). For example, your employer offered flexible hours and remote work so you could care for an elderly parent but then reneged on the offer. That’s an acceptable reason to look elsewhere.

But if your reason is difficulty adjusting to the work load, consider sticking it out. You never know when things will click.

Is job hopping a habit? If you have a solid work history and this particular job isn’t working out, you can safety leave. Job hopping is much more common today, so most hiring managers expect a bit. Just make sure your resume speaks toward your work ethic, professionalism, and savvy job hops.

Will the job go on my resume? If you are applying for an accountant position, nobody cares that you quit that spin instructor position after three weeks. It’s not germane.

What jobs can be safety dropped off your resume? Put it to the honesty test. If your new employer found out, would it negatively reflect your reputation and their trust in you? If the answer is yes, keep it.

Do you have a job lined up? Then go for it, especially if it’s a dream job or a step up in your professional career. Let’s not make it a habit, though. Be prepared to stick it out.

Can I leave and still offer something? If you’re going to leave early, capitalize on your truncated tenure. Try to complete a specific project or professional goal. Record this on your resume, so the entry is balanced by skills and achievements.

And remember to offer two weeks’ notice. It’s just good form.

The bottom line is this

Just because a job is difficult, challenging, or confusing doesn’t mean you should leave. These challenges, while distressing, may signal growth opportunities. Then there’s the old adage about greener grass; you have no guarantee your next job will be better.

But if you’re truly miserable, enduring your new job for an entire year could be detrimental. It may add undue stress, skew your work-life balance, and jeopardize your mental health.  For your health and career, it may be best to leave.

Ultimately, no one can tell you when it’s too soon to leave a new job, but these considerations should help you discover your own answer to this vexing question.

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