Quitting a job within the first year is more common than you may think, especially when you’ve gained firsthand experience of what it’s like to work for a company.

In the early stages of a new job, you may quickly realise the environment or job responsibilities aren't aligned with your expectations, making it challenging to decide your next steps for your career. Maybe you don’t enjoy the work that you’re doing, can’t make friends in the office or feel like you’ve been low-balled for the amount of work you’re doing.

However, leaving a job so soon, whether it's within 3 months or 6 months may raise concerns and leave a bad impression about your reliability to prospective employers. Despite this risk, staying in an organisation that doesn’t align with your career goals and values can do you more harm than good.

In this article, we'll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of leaving a job early, and provide tips on how to make the best decisions for your career.

can i quit my job within a year?

The short answer is yes, you can quit your job within a year and it is legal (mostly).

If you’ve given it your best shot and you still feel that the company isn’t a good fit for you, the short answer is that you can legally submit your resignation letter and quit your job at any time.

In most countries, no employment law requires you to stay in a job. However, there are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Avoid making a habit of quitting your job too quickly after you start. Repeatedly quitting jobs after a short period without explanation may raise concerns for potential future employers about your career stability, commitment and work ethic.
  • Before you hand in your resignation letter, make sure you are not in violation of any employment terms stated in your contract, like a bond or contracted employment period.
  • Senior professionals or employees working in highly competitive industries may have longer notice periods.
  • In some cases, your next employer cannot be a direct competitor or a client for some time for data and information security reasons.

If you are unable to resign due to contractual obligations, you should approach your manager to discuss alternative arrangements such as switching departments or teams, or coming to a mutual agreement about ending your contract with compensation.

when is it ok to quit your job
when is it ok to quit your job

reasons why people quit their jobs before a full year

From underemployment to personal reasons, quitting your job within a year is reasonable in some situations.

Here are 5 common reasons people quit their jobs after a short stint.

1. you are underemployed

Don’t settle for a company that doesn’t value your abilities. When you feel that your strengths, skills and knowledge aren’t fully applied in your role, it limits your potential for growth and career growth in the company.

This can lead to a bad work experience, especially if you're burdened with additional responsibilities or tasks that don't align with your talents. Worst of all, you may start hating your job and colleagues, or believing that they’re responsible for stunting your growth potential.

the negative impacts of underemployment:

  • Erosion of skills and knowledge
  • Lower-self esteem and confidence
  • Reduced sense of job security
  • Delayed career development
negative impact of underemployment
negative impact of underemployment

Don’t let your skills and expertise go to waste. Take charge of your career and seek opportunities that will value your abilities and provide you with the professional development you need to excel.

2. you do not fit into the culture of the company

Feeling like you belong in a company’s culture is integral to your experience as an employee. When you’re unable to fit in, you’ll find it harder to thrive and excel at your work. 

here are some important workplace culture values to evaluate:

  • Work-life balance
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Leadership and communication style
  • Collaboration and innovation
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)
  • Employee autonomy

Changing a corporate culture takes a long time as existing problems may not be easily or quickly resolved. If your employer’s values don’t align with yours, you’ll start to find the work that you do pointless and unfulfilling. On your bad days, you may also feel lonely because you have nobody in the organisation you trust enough to confide in.

Everyone is entitled to their own values, and some of your values are not negotiable. If you find yourself at odds with your current company’s values, it may not be anyone’s fault in particular. In these cases, it may be better to leave a challenging environment and move on to a company where you feel like you belong.

3. personal circumstances

Unforeseen personal or family circumstances like health reasons or changes to the status of your work visa may arise, making it impractical to stay in a job. If you find yourself in a dilemma about whether to prioritise your family, your health or to continue working, always choose yourself. 

There may be instances where you have to continue working to pay for additional expenses arising from your personal difficulties. In those cases, always speak to your manager to ask for support, like flexible work or reduced hours. More often than not, your manager will be grateful that you let them know about your personal challenges so that they know how to support you at work and manage their expectations accordingly.

personal reasons to consider when leaving your job

  • Personal health reasons
  • Caring for dependents
  • Relocation
  • Educational opportunities
  • Career burnout
circumstances that you may consider to leave your job
circumstances that you may consider to leave your job

4. company instability

If the company you are working for is facing financial stress or high employee turnover rates, it is reasonable to leave for another firm that can provide you with better stability and strategic direction.

Here are some of the common company instabilities that can explain your early departure:

a. financial troubles

Persistent financial difficulties can impact job security if the company is always looking for areas to cut costs. Rather than constantly feeling like you’re on the chopping block and worrying about how to pay your bills, you may prefer to work for a company that can provide you with better stability.

b. high employee turnover rates

You may find it difficult to make lasting connections when your team members keep changing. High employee turnover rates can also be signs of a toxic and distrustful work environment, which can create a lot of unnecessary stress.

c. ineffective and constantly changing leadership

A lack of effective leadership can lead to confusion, poor decision-making and demotivation amongst employees who lack clear direction of how they can contribute or grow in a company. In this case, it would make more sense for you to work for a company that is committed to its strategic goals.

Choosing to leave a company that is struggling to find its footing opens you up to new opportunities and ensures that you’re working in an environment that empowers you to thrive professionally.

d. career redirection

Your career journey is not a linear path. What seemed like the right decision initially may not be what you envisioned it to be. After working for a few months, you may find that your passion actually lies somewhere else. You may decide that you’d like to go back to school so that you can change your career. It is not uncommon for people to work in jobs that are completely unrelated to their original degree or tertiary certification.

Your role in the company and your skills should align with your career direction. If the career you want requires technical skills or if you find that you lack foundational knowledge to kickstart a new job, you will have to invest in your education. While this takes time and money, the outcomes will be much better for you personally and professionally than working in a soul-sucking job for decades.

There are many reasons why people might choose to leave a job after a short period of time. Whatever the reason may be, it's important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

how to quit your job within a year professionally

If you do decide to quit your job within a year, you should know that you’re not obligated to explain your reasons for leaving, especially if it’s personal to you. Focus on the next step in your career while remaining professional and polite to your colleagues and bosses. Here are some tips: 

  • Prepare your resignation letter and give your employer enough time to have an open, honest discussion with you about your experience.
  • Even if you’re unhappy with your job, you should still try to leave on a positive note so that you can focus on your future.
  • When serving your notice period, you should focus on documenting your work for the team and complete any unfinished projects.
  • Thank your employer for the opportunity to work with them and if you value the relationship with them, offer to keep in touch.

what are the benefits of staying at your first job for a year?

Let’s talk about how it might be beneficial to stay for at least a year. Here are 3 benefits of staying in a job for more than a year or for long-term.

1. build deeper expertise

Staying in a job for more than a year allows you to build expertise in your field. Apart from the initial phase of settling in and adjusting to a new company, studies have shown that it usually takes up to 6 months to be proficient at a given role.

The longer you commit to a role, the more you stand to gain. You’ll be working on projects from the start to the end, which lets you gain an understanding of how things work in the company. For example, this includes how people are being selected for the project, how objectives are being set up and what metrics you should measure your performance with.

Over time, you’ll be exposed to a diverse range of projects which will challenge you and help you develop a deeper understanding of your role and expectations in the company. As you become more proficient at your job, you will be able to identify patterns and common pitfalls as well as streamline processes. 

2. become a key part of the company’s network

Working in a company for more than a year can greatly expand your network and build your professional brand. The key lies in your engagement with colleagues within your team as well as across other departments to understand what they do and how you can support one another.

Building these relationships is not an overnight affair. It requires time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. The connections you make will not only develop a greater sense of belonging to your organisation and team, but they also encourage better collaborations and enhance your professional brand which will create new opportunities to further grow your career. Your connections can also be a valuable resource for career advice, job opportunities and support.

3. access to more employee benefits

More often than not, when you stay with a company for more than a year, you’ll be able to enjoy accumulated employee benefits.

Here are some benefits that usually accumulate over your tenure:

  • Number of paid leave days to increase flexibility
  • Medical insurance coverage
  • Dental insurance 
  • Training opportunities for leadership and career development 

let our recruiters help you find you your dream job

Ultimately, making the decision to leave your current role in less than a year isn’t always a negative choice. There is no single standard that defines your career path, so don’t feel bad if you have to take some time out of your career to work on yourself or leave a job if the company’s culture does not align with your values.

If you’re ready to find a job that provides you with the growth and stability you need, check out our job listings and explore your career options. Randstad’s dedicated recruitment specialists can streamline your job search and unlock your potential by connecting you with the right employers with a great company work culture.

Looking for resources to help you with your career journey? Visit our career advice hub for informative sources that can help you plan your career path.

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