If you hate your new job, should you quit right away — or should you stick it out? The answer, of course, is “it depends.” Here are the factors you need to consider before making your decision.
Some workplaces are so toxic that leaving as soon as possible can be a wise move. However, if you need the money, want to avoid looking like a job-hopper, and/or want to make sure you don’t inadvertently jump into a job you hate just as much as your current one, it’s worth taking the time to stick around.
At least for a little while.
At The Financial Diet, Bree Rody-Mantha describes what she did after realising she hated her new job, three days in:
I knew I had to quit. But how could I pull that off? Two years at a low salary (at least, in Toronto) and semi-significant student debt didn’t give much of a safety net, especially not a big enough one to quit my job with no way of knowing when I’d get a new one. I wasn’t an accountant or an engineer. I had an English degree and two years of experience at a local magazine.
Rody-Mantha spent seven months side-hustling, building her skills, and networking, all while doing her best to excel at the job she hated. Her work paid off, and she was able to find a position that was a much better fit.
When I got the [new] job, even though it was challenging, I felt like I could relax for the first time in months. I didn’t have to spend every minute of every day trying to find a backup.
If you’re thinking about making a similar move, you might not need to spend every minute of every day working towards your next career. Captain Awkward, who offers a lot of advice on when to quit your job and what to do if you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, suggests setting aside chunks of time for both “finding a new job” and “finding ways to enjoy life now:”
First order of business: Schedule four sacred hours/week for Future Career Stuff and four sacred hours/week for Fun. You can break those hours up into little daily things or big chunks of things, but you need that time. It’s not optional.
Compartmentalising your time—and setting aside time for fun—can also help you stick to your goal of finding a better job. After all, as we’ve written before, trying to do too much at once can make it hard to get anything done.
It's good to have a schedule planned out each week, but having too many appointments set for each day might be be more harmful than helpful. A recent study suggests the more self-imposed deadlines we have in a day, the less deep work we can get done.
But what kind of job should you look for? Alison Green, of Ask a Manager, recently wrote about “the myth of the dream job” at Slate, noting that if you’re looking for work you love, finding a position with the right workload, atmosphere, and team/boss is more important than looking for a specific type of job at a specific type of organisation:
The things that make people think “dream job,” such as the type of work or the prestige of the company, can quickly be trumped by a horrible boss, toxic culture, crushing workload, or any of the other factors that will turn a job you were excited about into one that you dread coming to every day.
If you’re worried that quitting a new job too soon will make you less attractive to potential employers, here’s another piece of advice from Alison Green, at The Cut:
To be clear, a single short-term stay isn’t a big deal. (And neither is a series of short-term jobs that were designed to be short-term, like contract roles or internships or other jobs that are necessarily term-limited.) It’s only when you have a pattern of quickly leaving jobs that weren’t designed to be short-term that job-hopping becomes an issue. That can be a little tricky because often when people leave a job quickly, they don’t intend to keep doing it … but if you end up not loving the next job you go to, you’re going to be more locked in than you were with the first one, because if you leave this one early, too, you are going to look like you have a pattern. So that means that if you do leave a job quickly, you really need to vet the next one well and make sure that you can commit to staying there for a good long while.
In other words: don’t quit a job you hate until you’ve found a job you love.
Otherwise, you might find yourself hating your new job yet again.