Taking a Career Mulligan: How to Leave a New Job

Career Mulligan

How long should you stay in a new job you hate? Six months? One year? Two years? Does taking a “career mulligan” affect your chances of being hired in the future?

If you thought your new job was going to be a career hole-in-one, but it slices way right, how do you leave?

Fully Assess Your New Job First

If you think you’ve made a mistake, take a step back and ask why the new job is different than you expected. Were you misled? Or is your frustration part of a normal transition? “Think about whether the issues that are troubling you are temporary or structural,” says Carolyn O’Hara in Harvard Business Review. “All those dreaded late nights at the office may come to an end in a few months’ time with a project’s completion. On the other hand, you may detest the sales part of your new sales job. If you are having questions or doubts, go to your boss and explain your concerns.”

Give yourself time to acclimate, but before too much time passes, communicate with your new employer. Any job is going to seem a bit overwhelming, but if it is a complete 180 from the description, or you are in a toxic work culture, you may have no choice in leaving.  The cost to yourself in the forms of your own happiness and mental health may be too high.

Why More than One Mulligan May be Too Many

For employers, bringing on a new employee means time and money.  Hiring and onboarding costs can be significant, and employers want candidates who are invested. Many employers view short-term employments as a lack of commitment.  “Quitting the wrong job may bring you relief, but it will also likely create a blemish on your resume,” says O’Hara, HBR.  Several one-year stints on a resume shows up as a pattern.”

If you do need to leave, try not to make the same mistake twice.  In your hurry to leave a position where you are unhappy, you may rush to get hired and wind up in the same situation again.

How to Leave Well

Never burn a bridge with an employer, even with a job you immediately regret taking. Communication means everything.  Never up and leave without expressing your concerns honestly and always give an employer a chance to respond.

When interviewing for your next position, be able to clearly explain the reason you are leaving or left your last job so quickly. “If you have a well-articulated, reasoned and genuine explanation for why your current situation is not a good fit, how you now know what you are looking for, and have good reason to believe you will do much better at their company, this could go far to put their concerns to rest and make you a strong candidate,” says Sarah Young Wang of Forbes.

Also consider keeping the short-term position off your resume, especially if the role lasted less than six months.  “If you stay at your less-than-perfect new job for a very short period of time, and learn nothing that would contribute to your candidacy for another position, the smart move is to leave it off your resume—technically, you’re still looking for work as you try on a new position,” says Jen Hubley Luckwaldt, The Balance.

Remember that the grass on a new “green” is not always greener.  No job is perfect.  If you need to take a career mulligan, be sure to understand why and communicate that to everyone involved.

This being said, don’t beat yourself up.  Employers are people too, and they know that mistakes happen.

If you are in a new job and it is not what you expected, the recruiters at Artemis may be able help.

-Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Content Writer Mellody Melville

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