Getting a new job can be exciting. You get to meet new people, experience a different company culture, and explore a new role. Unfortunately, sometimes you might find that a job isn’t the right fit or what you thought it was. In this case, there’s nothing to stop you from applying for another job while on probation.
While it doesn’t do to have a resume full of short-lived jobs, equally, if you’re not happy, there’s no reason why you can’t quit your probationary period gracefully. In fact, it really is better to quit if your options are to resign or fail probation. You can certainly make a better show on your resume if you choose to leave.
Indeed, many people in the US and across the world are quitting their jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million employees quit their jobs in February 2022. It’s become known as the Great Resignation, where people are reconsidering their lives and their work because of the global pandemic.
However, before you quit your job, take a look at my top tips on how to be professional about it. I’m going to discuss topics such as “can I leave my job in the probation period without notice?” and “can you apply for an internal job while on probation?”
Once you’re done with this article, you should have a good idea about how to explain leaving a job after a short time and how to plan your exit.
“It’s worth remembering that for any change to happen in your life, you must be wrong about something. If you’re sitting there, miserable day after day, then that means you’re already wrong about something major in your life, and until you’re able to question yourself to find it, nothing will change.” – Mark Manson
Applying for another job while on probation
To a great extent, applying for another job while on probation is just like applying for any other job. You need to brush up your resume, start your job search, and plan how you’re going to handle interview questions.
However, before you get that far, you need to be sure you’re making the right decision. It’s also worth seeing if there’s anything that can be done in your current job to make you want to stay.
There are many reasons for thinking about leaving your job while on probation. You might find that you dislike the company culture. You may discover that your boss is a micromanager. You might find that the job you have is not what you were promised at the interview. Or you might simply get a better offer from elsewhere.
While you’re not going to be able to change the company culture, you may be able to work things out with your manager. Or you could potentially change things up during your probationary period for an internal move.
Before you make the leap, here are some things to try:
1) Make a list of the pros and cons
Take the long view of your career. While this job might not be your ideal right now, consider any possible benefits to staying. Will this role give you the experience you need to grow and be promoted? Are there opportunities to train and gain new skills that will benefit you later? What are the good points of your current job?
Then do the same with the cons. What do you dislike about your current position? What are the problems you are facing? You can’t do anything to fix them if you haven’t nailed down what they are.
2) Talk to your coworkers
It’s worth chatting with your coworkers and seeing if they feel the same about the company and their role.
You may find that there is strength in numbers and that you can go together to talk to your manager and see if anything can be done.
Or you might find that simply having the support of your coworkers is enough to keep you going.
3) Talk to your manager
If you really can’t deal with your role as it is, refer back to the pros and cons list you made earlier and prepare what you want to say to your manager. Don’t go in shouting and losing your temper. Wait until you can have a calm discussion with your manager about any possibilities for change.
When you have your meeting, be clear about what you want. Be clear about what the problems are.
Offer possible solutions, if you can, like suggesting flexible working or working from home, if that’s one of your issues.
Whatever your reason to resign during probation, lay it out there and see if there’s anything to be done. There’s no harm in asking and you might just get what you want.
In addition, you’re being fair to your employer. Recruitment takes an awful lot of time and money for an employer. As does training new staff. You’re giving them a heads up that there’s a problem and giving them the chance to fix it.
If you then come out of that meeting knowing that nothing will change, you can then make an informed decision based on facts, not guesswork.
“Challenge yourself, grow, blossom, and become who you were meant to be. Don’t ever stay at a job solely out of convenience or comfort. Aim higher, even if that means pursuing another job that’s just one step closer to your ultimate goal.” – Carolyn Aronson
If you’re then sure that your best move is to leave your job during your probationary period, you can make a plan.
1) Brush up your resume
You may worry about adding a short-lived job to your resume. Employers do worry about candidates that have too many short-term jobs on their resume. They wonder if they’re not likely to stick with their company either.
However, in this case, it’s better to be honest on your resume and list your last job, even if you left after a short amount of time. Employers don’t like to see gaps on your resume either.
2) Prepare for interviews
Just as you would for any other job, polish your interview technique and practice interview questions.
However, be prepared for any potential employer to ask why you left your last job, particularly after a short time.
Be honest here. Employers will check references and ask questions of your old employer, so better not to lie.
You can also make yourself look good with the answer to this question. It’s impressive if you can say that you wanted more to get your teeth into or that there weren’t routes to promotion. Employers want to hear that potential hires have drive and ambition.
Be honest with your current employer too and tell them you’re going for interview during probation. It’s better not to lie here either. They should allow you the time off you need.
3) Prepare yourself
Do you want to have a certain amount of savings before you leave or are you comfortable quitting without a safety net?
It is more sensible to quit a job if you have money behind you to cushion you until you get another role.
Take the time to save if you can.
This is also a good time to look at what you really want. Are you in the right career? Is there anything else you’ve always dreamed of doing? Maybe it’s time for a career change or even time to start your own business. You only get one life and you should make the most of it.
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” – Randy Kosimar
4) Give your notice
Don’t quit your job without giving notice. You will have a minimum notice period that you have to give. Check your contract if you’re not sure what it is.
Stick to that notice period if you possibly can, or try to negotiate with your current employer if your new company would like to start earlier.
While you are leaving, if you do so with grace, you’re not slamming the door on a return and a good relationship that you might need in the future.
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos
Can you quit your job during probation period? Yes, you can. Don’t spend too much time in a job that doesn’t fit. You spend around a third of your life at work. That’s too much time to be miserable. But if you’re going to do it, follow my steps and do it the right way.
“Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.” – Tim Ferriss