Written by Amy Beecham
Sticking it out at a job you hate is a thing of the past. In 2023, we’re ‘quick quitting’ our way to career satisfaction.
The world around us is constantly changing, and over the past few years, our working environments and what we expect from our jobs has altered dramatically. Prompted by the pandemic, the rise of remote working and the economic impact of the recession, the current generation of workers faces a very different landscape from the one their parents navigated.
Once upon a time, you left school, started in a junior position with a ‘good company’ and worked your way up the ladder. You gave the best years of your life to your 9-to-5 before happily retiring at 50, but this is no longer the case. The ‘rules’ around work and the career landscape have completely changed: we ‘quiet quit’ and ‘rage apply’ now, career hopping and negotiating our way to the best work-life balance we can manage.And while it used to be considered a giant red flag to leave a position before the one-year mark, according to Forbes, a growing number of workers are becoming more comfortable leaving their new jobs early, rather than waiting to make a change.
Studies have shown that it takes us an average of 18 months in a job to get itchy feet and an urge to move on, but why are more people embracing quick quitting rather than sticking it out?
Put simply: life is far too short to be in a job you hate. “Both mentally and career-wise, it’s better to get out early and embrace the decision to leave than hold out for 12 months in a role that isn’t right,” explains Jill Cotton, careers advice expert at Glassdoor, the worldwide leader on insights into jobs and companies.
According to Cotton, while it’s good to remember that it also takes time to settle into a new job– particularly if you have moved industries or taken on different responsibilities – it’s ultimately best to trust your instincts if a job isn’t working out.
Natalie, 48, who quit her PR job last year after less than four months in the role, echoes the importance of going with your gut. “I knew it wasn’t right from the start,” she tells Stylist. “It was clear I didn’t fit and the more I tried to be a part of the culture, the more I felt I was never going to be right, and my confidence ebbed away.”
Despite it being a difficult decision to resign, Natalie says that the moment she did, she knew she’d made the right choice. “I felt relieved straight away, but then having only two people in the company say goodbye made me unsure whether to punch the air in vindication or throw up,” she shares.
For her, using her network of contacts and prioritising work-life balance was key to securing a more flexible role in which she’s now much happier. “Yes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but if I hadn’t tried, I would have always wondered if there was something better out there,” she adds.
Cassandra, 32, left a job within the food and drink industry after just eight weeks once she realised it couldn’t be sustainable.
“I had started a one-year maternity leave cover contract, but was left no handover notes and there was no one even available to tell me what I was supposed to be doing,” she says. Despite this level of disorganisation, her boss was demanding, untrusting and difficult, which she says made her feel like she “was going crazy”. She handed in her notice after six weeks and left after serving her two-week notice period without having another job to go to.
However, Cotton stresses the importance of avoiding rash decisions by taking time to reflect on why you want to leave the role. “Use the time to prepare an exit plan and focus on finding a more fulfilling position,” she advises instead. “Consider whether the issue is with the job and the responsibilities it involves or if it is the company. For example, your employer’s values don’t align with your own or the work-life balance offered isn’t right.
“If you know it’s not the job for you, for whatever reason, there’s no shame in leaving,” Cassandra agrees. “I’d always say don’t leave a job until you have somewhere to go to next, but sometimes your mental health is more important. Talk to HR first, just in case something about the situation can be changed, but you have to do what’s best for you.”
Laura, 30, shares that a heady mix of a miserable work-life balance, a toxic boss and an exhausting commute contributed to her decision to resign from her marketing job after just 10 months. “My confidence was shattered, I was shattered and I no longer felt like myself,” she tells Stylist. “My health was also suffering from the effects of prolonged stress; my hair was falling out, my mood was low, and I felt that sense of dread every Sunday night before heading to the office.”
Laura says she felt apprehensive at first, as she was worried about how the short tenure would look on her CV.Would employers and recruiters be put off, or would she be pegged as someone who was a flight risk? However, once she made the decision to quit, she says she felt a huge relief. “There was an endpoint in sight and I practically danced my way out of the office on my last day and never looked back,” she shares.
While this is a common fear, Cotton explains that there’s no need to feel embarrassed or concerned if you have decided to leave a company after a short time.
“We all make choices that don’t work out,” she acknowledges. “Short-tenure jobs are no longer the red flag they once were, but how acceptable the hiring manager finds them often depends on the industry in which you work. For example, tech companies often value diverse experiences with multiple companies.” However, providing context to your short tenure will help put any potential hiring managers at ease when searching for new roles.
“In interviews, you need to demonstrate that it was not a sign of unreliability, but a result of being laser-focused on what you want from your career,” she says. “Your CV only needs to include the information you want to share and should always be tailored to fit the requirements of the advertised role. Never embellish your accomplishments but focus on the skills that will allow you to do the job you are applying for.” But if you are concerned, you can always list the year that you worked in each role rather than including the specific month of your start and end dates.
“The pandemic’s upending of the world of work has finally broken the stigma attached to job hopping and shown there’s no ‘right’ amount of time to be in role,” Cotton concludes. “If a job isn’t working out as you hoped or an employer isn’t what you expected, it’s often better to move on, even if your time at the company is short.
“When a job isn’t the right fit, frustration and disappointment can quickly set in, making it hard to stay motivated at work. When your enthusiasm dips, productivity can also slip and if you are no longer performing at the expected level your employer may take action against you.”
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