How Soon Can You Deem Your Job Worthless?

By Eva Rykrsmith on March 29, 2009 13 Comments

I recently read a post called Why it’s smart to quit a job after just two weeks of work, which caused some intense debate about how soon is too soon to quit your job. Most readers voiced opinions that six months is a good amount of time to quit if you are unhappy. I take the other extreme viewpoint and I think you should give it at least a year. Though it ultimately comes down to personal and situational differences, here are my reasons why you should stick it out at a job you hate:

1. You are wrong.
The above-mentioned article points out that you might as well quit now rather than drawing it out because “you’ll resent both the company and yourself for staying at a job that you knew you didn’t like early on.” But unfortunately, first impressions are overwhelmingly flawed impressions. It is unavoidable and human of us to make judgments, but to make a decision based on a judgment alone leads to error more often than not. Even if gut instinct is correct, the circumstances of your job will likely change over time. So a few months in, after you have proved yourself competent, you may have been promoted to the job of your dreams and you do not hate your job anymore.

2. You made a commitment.
Maybe it’s the organization’s fault for setting unrealistic expectations and not giving you a realistic job preview or failing at the socialization phase. Maybe it’s your fault for not doing your due diligence on the company. Either way, you agreed to fill the position they needed. Though your employment contract may not have a minimum temporal requirement, it is sort of an unspoken expectation that both you and the company will give it an honest try to make this arrangement work to suit both parties’ needs. A high performer might be able to switch jobs often, but those worth the title do not. Instead, they are committed to the company that has committed to them.

3. You will learn something new.
Finding your passion is great and to want to love your job is understandable. But it doesn’t just happen, easily and right away. There’s a long journey of self-exploration, which is usually full of both negative experiences such as awful jobs as well as positive experiences. Rather than looking at this as a failure, approach it as opportunity to learn about what you don’t want to do, explore the reasons why you don’t like it, and learn about what aspects of the environment are contributing to your state of displeasure. Who knows, maybe it’s something about you rather than the job that is causing the feelings of discontentment.

4. You will be building relationships, contributing to society, all while earning an income.
It is another flawed assumption that your job performance will be terrible if you hate your job. Actually, no, your job performance is determined mostly by you, whether you love the job or not. Some people are great at things they hate. Others partake in activities they have no skills or abilities in whatsoever. And then some people are lucky enough to be good at what they love to do. But it is by no means a requirement. By sticking it out for just a few more months, you can do a good job, add coworkers to your network, and get paid.

5. You’ll get a reputation for being consistent and reliable.
You don’t need to switch companies to switch jobs. And you don’t need to switch jobs to continue your learning. What if doctors switched specialties every few years? Constantly job hopping with no strategy or direction is just detrimental. By demonstrating a track record of job hopping, you’ll set yourself up to be disrespected and dismissed in the future. People who respect others, build quality relationships, and stick to their commitments are the people who succeed.

6. You’ll do the company a favor.
The level of voluntary turnover is negatively related to organizational performance. By quitting, you are costing the company thousands of dollars. The exact amount varies by position and tenure, but it ranges from $2,000 for an hourly at Wal*Mart to millions for a seasoned exec. The average is somewhere around $15,000 for professional jobs. If a company cares enough to evaluate voluntary turnover, they’ll do it whether a person quits after two days, two years, or two decades. If you really want to do the company a favor, you’ll stick around and expand your job duties to include fixing the problems that are making you and other employees unhappy.

Related Research:

13 Responses to “How Soon Can You Deem Your Job Worthless?”

  1. Donnie says on: 30 March 2009 at 6:30 am

    1. True
    2. Fantasy Land. A commitment to or from a company is meaningless because companies do not care about employees, only about their bottom line.
    3. True
    4. Very true.
    5. Not anymore. Everybody I went to college with has job-hopped at least once in 3 years.
    6. Who cares about doing favors for companies? It won’t get you any extra in your bank account, and no one will ever know about it except you.

  2. HR Good_Witch says on: 30 March 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Great topic. I agree. Stay put. One job I had, I absolutely hated it at the beginning. I told myself I’d stay in it for 2 years then I’d start looking for another job. It took the full 2 years, but it ended up being the best job I ever had.

  3. Matthew says on: 30 March 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Eva – I had a response for you, that kept getting longer…and longer…and longer, until you finally inspired me to write my own follow up. So – this response is to thank you for the inspiration. You make a lot of very good points. Stay tuned for my follow up to your follow up!

  4. Angelique Keenley says on: 31 March 2009 at 7:07 am

    While I do think that life is too short to be doing something that you hate, you do have to give a new workplace some time to grow on you…and for you to grow on them.

    I find that it takes me a good year to really understand how a business works, who all of the people are and their idiosyncrasies and for everyone to get to know how truly awesome I am. :-)

    With that said, if I had ever stepped into something that was immediately and truly awful, I’d get out quickly so that I wouldn’t need to put them on my resume and I wouldn’t have to explain away the employment gap.

  5. Eva says on: 31 March 2009 at 12:30 pm

    @Donnie – once in 3 years is reasonable… at least, more reasonable than once in 3 weeks. By no means am I advocating employees to stay at the job you hate for life. Just to give it a shot and change what you can to better your situation without giving up completely.

    @HR Good_Witch – that’s such a great example, thanks for sharing!

    @Matt – glad to have inspired your post (http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/business/nobody-likes-a-quitter/)

    @Angelique – I am curious at what constitutes “something immediately and truly awful”…

    Where is the line between:
    a) quit without anything lined up
    b) starting looking for something new immediately
    c) give it a year, then start looking
    d) this job is pretty cool

  6. acide folique says on: 21 November 2009 at 12:36 am

    It is one of the best articles that I read from this blog.Those employees who think so negative about their career and job selection must read this article to get inspiration and positiveness.By the way,it is true that self-exploration is a long journey for anyone who desire to explore himself.

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