Quit a Job

New Job – How Soon is too Soon to Quit?

Have you ever started a new job and realized shortly afterward that it’s not the right fit? The old rules of staying in a job for at least a year are dying out as people switch jobs more rapidly than ever. This post will cover various factors to consider and help you better understand your position in this situation. Let’s begin!

I received a message from a client who wanted to transition her scientific research background, focused on microbiology, parasitology, and molecular biology, into a molecular diagnostics role in a clinical setting. Additionally, she wanted to relocate to the east coast and be closer to family.

In her message, she shared that she successfully relocated to the Baltimore area and landed a new position working in a molecular diagnostics and COVID-19 laboratory with a well-known biomedical research institute. Shortly after starting, she realized it would not be a good fit or provide the sequencing experience she hoped to acquire.

This situation brings up a key question I commonly hear from job seekers.

How soon is too soon to look for a new job?

You should start the job search process as soon as you decide you don’t want to stay in the current role. In the above scenario, my client already decided she could not remain in this role for the long term.

She was also concerned that leaving before the 1-year contract would reflect negatively in the eyes of prospective employers and ruin any chances of getting a strong recommendation.

If you’re in a similar situation, there are a host of factors to consider, specifically:

  • How long it could take you to find a new position

In January 2020, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found it took 35.1% of job seekers less than 5 weeks to find a job. Additionally, that same percentage of people needed more than 15 weeks to find a job.

It’s important to consider your financial situation. There’s no guarantee you’ll find your next opportunity quickly. Do you know how much money your job search could be costing you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?

  • The industry are you targeting

A 2017 Glassdoor analysis looked at more than 83,000 job interviews found that government, aerospace & defense, and the energy & utilities industries had the longest hiring processes with 53.8 days, 32.6 days, and 28.8 days, respectively.

On the other hand, restaurants & bars, private security, and supermarkets had the shortest interview processes with 10.2 days, 11.6 days, and 12.3 days, respectively.

  • Being employed improves your odds.

If you have ever searched for a job, you likely heard someone say, “It’s easier to look for and land a new job when you already have one.” Research backs this up.

A group of economists studied job seeker strategies from 2,895 adults, ages 18 to 64, and found that employed people generated more interviews and more unsolicited recruitment offers than unemployed people who spent 7x more of their time and effort actively looking for a job.

There is something to be said for staying in an imperfect role to increase your chances of getting a better position down the road.

The old rules are dying

Fortunately, the old rules—you have to stay in a job for at least a year—are dying out as people switch jobs faster than ever.

A Harvard Business Review report stated that nearly 33% of new hires look for a new job within the first 6 months because of a poor initial experience and ineffective onboarding with their new companies. For millennials, this percentage is even higher and happens sooner than 6 months.

These statistics indicate that looking for a new job is becoming more normalized shortly after starting.

Other aspects can help you understand where you fit and help support you in this decision, including:

  • Does the rest of your work history show experience with longer tenures?

Unless you’re a consultant or work in a project-based role, it’s much easier to explain one short-term hop over multiple and support your argument towards seeking a position with longevity.

  • Is the work environment toxic with limited growth opportunities?

An unhealthy work environment includes an atmosphere that negatively impacts employees or disrupts career growth and development. Examples include low compensation, limited growth opportunities, bullying, lack of work-life balance, low morale, and a lack of empathy and compassion from senior management.

  • Are you overworked? Hate going to work?

If you’re working long hours, have a terrible commute, and despise your job, that’s a recipe for burnout. Before you quit, start by having an honest conversation with your manager about setting realistic boundaries, researching new opportunities, or transitioning to a different area within the organization.

Before you quit, try talking with your manager about the issues and propose ideas for projects, improvements, or career development opportunities. If your manager is approachable, open-minded, and willing to work with you to keep you at the company, a few changes can substantially improve your satisfaction levels.

Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get some real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s get you where you want to go, with greater results!


Kate Williamson

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