quitting after only six months

A reader writes:

First I would just like to say I am a frequent visitor of your blog and have gleaned a lot of helpful information from it, so thank you. Secondly, I was wondering if you could provide some insight about the appropriate amount of time to stay at a job you dislike. I’ve been at my job for six months now and really do not like it. My manager and co-workers I interviewed with did not misrepresent the position in any way, I just feel like it is not a good match. I also have not received any negative feedback and had a pretty good 90-day review. However, despite all this, I feel very uncomfortable in my position. The majority of the clients I have to deal with are very demanding and difficult to manage. I feel, however, that you should give a job at least a year before moving on. In fact, I have a nine-month internship on my resume and I’m always asked in interviews why I was there for such a short period of time until I explain it was an internship that ended. Because I receive that question so often, I don’t want to add another “black mark” to my resume, so to speak. Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated.

I have two suggestions:

1. Have you talked to your manager about the things you’re not feeling comfortable with? He or she might be able to help. Frequently when people are unhappy with some aspect of their job, they suffer silently rather than speaking up. Not every problem is surmountable, of course, but quite a few are, and even if you’re convinced it’s not worth raising, you might be surprised if you give it a shot. Of course, it’s also possible that there might be nothing he/she can do — because it truly is just a mismatch, or because the manager isn’t particularly adept in such situations, or whatever. Which leads us to…

2. I’d wait three months before you start looking for another position. Your job search is going to take some time, so if you start when you’ve been in your present job nine months, you’ll likely have been there a year (if not longer) by the time you leave for something else. Three months isn’t all that long to stick it out before you start looking, and it’ll position you better to have the full year-long stay to point to.

But really, if your manager is even the tiniest bit approachable and competent, talk to her about the discomfort you’re having. Good luck!

{ 7 comments… read them below }

  1. Rachel - Employment File*

    Why is the internship not clearly marked an internship on the resume? I have a 9 month internship and no one has ever questioned why and when it ended.

  2. Anonymous*

    To answer your question, when interning, they gave me business cards with an “assistant” title, so that is what I put on my resume. I haven’t thought about changing it to intern but maybe should!

  3. Rachel - Employment File*

    To the OP – You can leave the title I would just indicate in some way that it was an internship. You’re probably not getting calls if people think that’s another job you left early.

    I think Ask A Manager gave you good advice. Your job search will likely take more than 3 months. I would spend the next 3 months prior to the job search working on networking and getting your resume up to date.

  4. Anonymous*

    It would have been nice if the Manager had actually answered the question. Lots of people leave jobs after a few months and then are asked why in interviews. You should say NO OPPORTUNITY FOR ADVANCEMENT. I thought I could contribute more if I were given more responsibility.

    Looking for new opportunity and challenges and in her situation, room for growth, words to that effect. You're welcome

  5. Ask a Manager*

    Anonymous, actually I disagree with that — saying that you left a job after a few months because there was no opportunity for advancement would look bad. Leaving a job after two years, for instance, for that reason — absolutely reasonable. But getting impatient that you're not getting promoted after a couple of month? Red flag to most employers.

  6. Anonymous*

    In regards to this, I'm wondering about a situation I'm in. I've just accepted a retail operations position that I know I am going to have to leave in 7-8 months when I begin a internship/residency in the healthcare field. I mentioned I would be pursuing this in "about a year" to the employer and they didn't bat an eye. I have never take a job knowing I would quit it, as it seems wrong, and I want to make sure I do it in the best way possible without burning bridges. The job comes with benefits, like health and dental, and 401k after 6 months, etc. I have to start saving up money for this residency and to support myself ASAP. Do you have any thoughts or advice on this?

  7. thatgirl*

    I have been at my current position for about 6 months. I was at my previous job for 8 years. It was very clear to me the first week that it was not a good fit for me and I’ve been hanging on as well as I can during these past 6 months. There were a few red flags before I started there that I should not have ignored. One of them is that I have a friend who resigned from this company after 6 months as the office culture, micro-managing and difficult boss (same one I have now) became unbearable. He left without a job lined up. I am now finding myself in the same situation.

    I know that my boss senses I’m unhappy and am not a good fit there either. I plan on resigning in 2 days and I do not have a job lined up. I have enough savings to get by for a few months and also have plans to pick up part-time gigs whenever I can.

    I am actively looking for a new job and recently had an interview for a job that is more in line with my goal of focusing on another aspect of the industry I work in. My problem is that it is a very small industry where everyone knows each other, I can’t omit this job from my resume. In fact, the interviewer mentioned knowing my current boss. How do I explain the short time there and why I chose to leave without a job lined up? I do not want to bad mouth my current employer and I don’t trust that she would give me a good reference. I am also concerned that if I don’t have a reference from this company that it might look like I was fired. I am choosing to walk away before any additional time is invested by either party. My health and happiness is more important to me. I feel that the best way to explain it is that I want to focus on my goal and I wanted to dedicate my full attention to achieving that goal.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to explain this to a potential future employer? Or how to handle if this comes up during an interview?

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