When to Quit a Technology Job You Just Started

According to a recent study, 43 percent of employees say that their day-to-day role isn’t what they had been led to believe it would be during the hiring process. Having doubts about an employer’s honesty is just one of the reasons why 33 percent of new hires quit within the first 90 days.

To help you avoid making similar mistakes, we asked a few technologists why they quit a job they just started, and how they have adapted the way they search for jobs as a result. Here’s what they’ve learned.

Watch Out for Desperate Employers

Be careful about joining a team that is chronically understaffed, as the manager may have cut corners to improve productivity—or the environment may be toxic. Worse, stressed-out managers can be difficult to work with, as Wes Smith, who currently works as a senior network engineer, found out the hard way.

Smith wasn’t sure why an agency recruiter pushed him to accept a contract position diagnosing and improving server performance at a top-shelf software company. After all, he was more qualified for other open positions. “To be truthful, I didn’t know what to expect when I started,” Smith admitted. He soon realized why this seemingly routine job was so difficult to fill.

When Smith balked at providing clients with a quick fix that could eventually lead to a server crash, his manager ordered him to do it or to take one of the McDonald’s employment applications stashed in an envelope hanging on the back of her office door. He ended up leaving after two months, and now realizes that ethics matter when it comes to your choice of workplace.

Be wary when an employer moves you through the pipeline too fast or resorts to hard-sell tactics to get you aboard. Always ask about turnover before accepting an offer, and try to find out why employees are leaving

Also, slow down and ask questions if you discover that a position has been vacant for a while. That may indicate you’ll face backlogs, bugs, uncompleted updates, and other legacy issues before you can even begin to tackle new projects.

Trust But Verify

From variances in titles and salaries between the offer letter and the employment contract, to expanded on-call duties and promises of state-of-the art tools that never appear, bait-and-switch remains a pervasive issue. Unfortunately, the only recourse for most victims is to quit. 

For instance, George Marr was brought on as a back-end engineer primarily to work on network scaling services. Within a few days, he found himself doing three jobs: Both back-end and front-end engineering as well as database design. 

His teammates also asked him to fix their code, “which was obviously just taken from other places,” he explained via email. When he complained, his teammates got annoyed, so he quit after just two weeks. He later found out that the management team had left a trail of failed companies behind them.

“Since this happened, I’ve changed a lot when it comes to searching for jobs,” he noted. For instance, he now does a lot more research on a prospective employer. Specifically, he looks at the time-stamps on reviews from current and former employees to see if the company has taken the feedback seriously and used it to improve.

Try to get everything in writing and verify representations made during the hiring process with current and former employees. Also, don’t assume that you will be getting an office or private cubicle—ask to see the work environment, Smith advised. Otherwise, you may be shocked and disappointed when you are given an ancient laptop to work on and assigned a space at a communal conference table.

Disastrous First Day is a Sign of Things to Come

How a company treats a new employee on their very first day makes a statement about whether they value you or not. If your manager is nowhere to be found, or your arrival is met with surprise by HR, or your email and computer access isn’t set up, you may have joined the wrong company.

The best companies go out of their way to make new hires feel welcome. If your gut tells you something is wrong, it may be best to cut your losses. The technologists we spoke with suffered no long-term effects from their decisions to make a quick exit.

If you didn’t burn that bridge when you resigned from your old job, you may be able to go back. Also, if you stay in touch with the hiring managers at your “second and third choice” companies, you may be able to land another offer quickly.

“If I’m not happy in a company, then I’m just going to leave,” Marr said. While you don’t want to make a habit of it, quitting a job you just started is not only a learning experience… it’s not as uncommon as you might think.