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When to quit a job you hate

by Alina Dizik - 05/07/2021
Not all jobs are a perfect fit, but even if you know you're ready to jump ship after just a few months on the job, it's usually in your best interest to stick it out for a while. Most employers shy away from job hoppers, so it's important to avoid that reputation.

Not sure when to leave a job? Here's what career experts want you to know about a well-timed exit strategy:

Hit the one-year mark at a new company

If you just started a job, try to stick it out for at least a year, says John Crant, founder of Self Recruiter. "At the one-year mark, it's much easier to position that one-year stint as you having gone after a specific skill set or exposure to expand your expertise, making you a more well-rounded candidate for the true next step in your career goals -- the [new] job they are offering," Crant explains.

After a promotion, wait four months to leave

The rules of when is appropriate to leave can change after a promotion. Most employers are more lenient toward employees who decide to leave less than a year after a promotion because, presumably, they've already spent some time at the company. Wait "at least four or five months -- and then moving to an outside opportunity that is a lateral to that new role, or even up the ladder from there, will not likely do any long-term damage," Crant says.

Look for a solution before jumping ship

No matter if you just got promoted or just landed a new job, try to fix the situation before leaving right away, suggests career expert Heather Huhman, founder of Come Recommended. Especially if you've just been promoted, ask yourself whether quitting is the best option, or if it's better to speak with your supervisor about your workload to make the transition easier for you, she says.

Stay for a few years to allay job-hopping fears

If you left a previous job in a hasty manner, it's important to stay at your next job for a while, Crant points out. "Once you get the 'right one', try and stay for two-to-three years to reset any concerns over job hopping," he says.

Perceptions are changing

If you can't make yourself stay, don't panic. "People used to worry about being perceived as job jumpers if they didn't stay in a position at least two years. Gen X and Y [employees] are changing this perception," says Taunee Besson, president of Career Dimensions. "Just as young techies [who are] unconcerned about how they dress at work brought about business casual attire, younger generations are changing attitudes about job hopping."

One caveat: If you've already quickly switched jobs, two quick job stints can make you look like an unreliable candidate.

Leave quickly to avoid a layoff

If a layoff is on the horizon, it might be better for you to find a new job before that happens, no matter how long you've been at the company.

Statistically, those who've been let go from a previous position can have a tougher time finding a job than working professionals. Additionally, "the [laid off] job seeker can sabotage himself by feeling he's inferior or by assuming potential employers will think so," Besson says.

Above all, avoid a meltdown

If you can't stick it out for a year (or less if you just got promoted), don't try. It's more important to stay sane at your job than to leave in a timely manner. Sometimes, leaving early can't be avoided. Bottom line: "If you really hate your job, it's time to leave," Besson says.

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.
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