Picture this: You just landed a new job. It’s your first week in the office, and, well, things aren’t going so great. Maybe your manager is relentlessly abusive, or it’s clear that the company is on the verge of falling apart. You haven’t even set up your new desk yet, but you want out—right now.
This is a bit of a nightmare scenario for any tech pro. If you used an external recruiter to land the gig, you might worry that quitting will ruin your relationship with that recruiter for good. No matter how or why you joined, you might wonder if word of your sudden resignation will get around, and you’ll end up with a damaged reputation—the tech industry is a small community in many ways.
Here are some tips for navigating this exceptionally tricky time.
Make Absolutely Sure
Not every onboarding is smooth. Sometimes you’ll arrive at your new office only to find you aren’t set up in the company systems. You might also arrive at the beginning of a particularly bad week, when tempers are frayed and a project seems on the verge of implosion.
It’s always worth sticking around until you can determine whether the negativity around you is temporary or permanent. Sometimes it can take weeks, or even months, to settle into a new role, especially in a new industry or sub-segment. Of course, there are exceptions—if your new boss hurls something hard at your head during your first hour at your desk, you should quit.
Your new company might be a hell-scape. But your urge to quit might come down to a simple misalignment: the company is fine, and your managers perfectly nice, but the whole setup just isn’t for you.
Whether the situation is terrible or merely “blah,” you should do your best to leave as tactfully as possible. Even if your managers and co-workers get upset over your imminent departure, remain professional and upbeat. Don’t apologize excessively, and also make it clear that, ultimately, this is the best scenario for everyone: Your co-workers don’t deserve someone who isn’t an organizational fit, and life’s too short to work for a company that doesn’t have your full enthusiasm.
If the experience has been atrocious, resist the urge to insult or demean on your way out the door. People in tech have long memories, and chances are good you’ll encounter some of your managers and co-workers again, in a different context.
Do It Face-to-Face
If you’re embarrassed by your urge to quit so soon, you might find it tempting to submit your resignation by email or phone. This is the wrong move: gather your courage, meet your manager face-to-face, and resign then. Your manager might exhibit shock, surprise, or even anger; they may try to persuade you to stay, and even offer more money or better perks.
Money and perks are great, but if you’re committed to quitting, make sure that you present your manager with a formal resignation letter. You don’t have to explain the reasons behind your departure in depth (the best resignation letters are short and sweet), but you should tell them something. Avoid negativity, even if the manager wants lots of details on why the role isn’t the best fit for you.
Give Sufficient Time
Don’t just walk out the door; you should give at least two weeks’ notice (or whatever minimum the company requires). That will ensure you leave under reasonably good terms, and gives the company a little bit more runway to find a replacement.
If you like the company and your manager, but the job itself just wasn’t a great match, you might also consider doing the really nice thing and offering to stay on for longer. This will give you and the company more time to figure out what’s next (if you haven’t figured that out already).
Something obviously attracted you to the company; otherwise you wouldn’t have applied for the job, much less gone through the interviewing and scheduling process. If you’re committed to quitting so soon after joining, that’s obviously a big red flag for the company’s HR. They might try to get you to stay, either by adjusting your role or addressing your specific concerns.
Even if you fully intend on quitting the company, you should hear them out. Again, this is about not burning bridges. And if they offer something radical and interesting, maybe you can be persuaded to stay. However, don’t drag out any negotiations, or leverage their enthusiasm for keeping you to keep asking for more and more concessions—as you’ve already demonstrated a willingness to leave, their patience may wear thin rather quickly.