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How to Leave Your First Job Before One Year

Katy mentors and educates young professionals and helps those beginning their careers and financial journeys to make informed decisions.

Here are some tips on how to navigate leaving a job earlier than you wanted while keeping your career on track.

Here are some tips on how to navigate leaving a job earlier than you wanted while keeping your career on track.

Think It Through

Some of us take our first job out of school, convinced it's our dream job, only to find out the first week that it wasn't what we'd hoped.

Others take the first job that comes along and hope to use it as a stepping stone to better job prospects.

But can you move on without putting in your first full year with a company? When is the right time to leave? Get some tips on how to navigate leaving a job earlier than you wanted and keep your career on track.

Can You Quit After One Year?

Leaving before the year is up is not usually recommended.


Future employers like to see at least one year at a company to know you're dedicated. A lot of job-hopping earlier in your career will be difficult to explain to prospective employers who value loyalty.

So is it ever okay to leave after less than a year? The answer is: it might be!

Here are reasons you might consider leaving early:

  • You have another great job offer
  • There is no upward movement in your position, and/or you've learned all you can
  • You're in a toxic workplace

If you think you're ready to leave, read on to find out how to end your job early without hurting your career.

How do you leave early when it seems naive?

How do you leave early when it seems naive?

How to Leave Any Job Before One Year

Even if it's not your first job, think carefully before planning to leave any job before the first year. In general, leaving a job before the one-year anniversary of your start date will get the attention of managers reviewing your resume. Expect there to be questions about why your stay was so short.

Good Reasons for Leaving a Company Early

There are perfectly legitimate reasons for leaving a company after only working for six months or so. If any of these have happened throughout your career, don’t worry about it negatively impacting your hire-ability:

  • Left to accommodate a spouse relocating or for other family reasons
  • Returned to school for an advanced degree
  • Contract work with an end date

There are other perfectly good reasons for leaving a role after less than 12 months that you are better off rephrasing when you explain it to future employers. For example, if you left because you knew you weren't going to get a raise for the first year, you can say that you "wanted a role with more opportunity for growth."

Signs You Need to Just Stick It Out

Sometimes you take a job offer because the money is good, but it turns out to be too stressful. Or you discovered your coworkers are jerks, or the entire company culture is awful. Are these legitimate reasons to leave? By themselves, they won't be. Even if your job is miserable now, it might not be worth throwing away a chance at work experience that could help your career. If you do have a solid job offer that you're excited about and compensation that fits your needs, that means you're in a good position to market yourself, and you won't take a big hit by leaving prematurely.

But if you don't have your next job offer or feel there is more experience that you can gain from your current role, then you should stay. What you need to do instead is off quitting is get to job searching. If you're not able to land the next job, you want to think about how you can use your current role to beef up your qualifications.

Quitting Your First Job Out of College

Whether you’ve been with the company for one year or more, leaving your first job out of college can be scary. It can be hard to know when it is time to move on and how soon is too soon to leave.

How Long Do You Stay in an Entry-Level Position?

The short answer is: as long as it takes to gain the necessary skills to get you into the next job you want. Hopefully, your entry role challenged you and forced you to learn quickly. But even if you’re still learning there, that might not be the end goal for you. Many people find out in their first job that they want to take a slightly different direction. Use the next job as a transition.

If you’ve landed your second job already, that means you’ve gained enough skills and learned to market them well enough to take the next step. This points toward you having already gleaned the most you could out of the first position.

If you're still looking for the next job, you can't think about quitting your first one yet. Work on beefing up your work experience. Learn how to apply to jobs you don't completely qualify for.

Never Leave Without a Job Offer in Hand

Regardless of how long you stay at your first job out of college, make sure you have a job offer from Company #2 before putting in your two weeks with Company #1. The conventional wisdom that “the best time to find a job is when you already have one” is absolutely true. A prospective employer will look more favorably on your resume when she sees that you’ve been with your current company for eight months and are now looking for a new opportunity than when she sees you left after just eight months and are now job searching.

How Long to Stay at Your First Job in Engineering

Engineering is a field where most positions, even entry-level, take months to get up to speed and start contributing. This means you might not actually produce more than you take home in salary until six to twelve months into the job. For this reason, engineering companies, in particular, want to see that you have been loyal to companies in the past.

Get the next job lined up before you leave your current job prematurely.

Get the next job lined up before you leave your current job prematurely.

How Long Should You Stay at a Job?

If your career has led you through various roles, what is the shortest time you can stay at a company without raising red flags on your resumé?

Stay at Least 18 Months

This varies by industry but for most careers staying 18 months to two years in each role early in your working life builds a solid resume.

Try to get your career stable by the third or fourth job with this pattern. Taking a few jobs to really narrow in on what you want to do is fine; continuous job hopping 10+ years after college is going to be hard to explain.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Katy Medium


Katy Medium (author) from Denver, CO on April 22, 2019:

Hi Michael, you don't have to put any job on your resume if it's not relevant to the job you're applying for. So if you stay for a very short time then you could leave it off. But really any place you've been employed should be on your application when asked.

Good luck with your new job! You might find it's the right fit for you and decide to stick around for longer.

Travel Chef from Manila on June 03, 2018:

The best advice of your that I like is not to leave the job without any security of getting a new job. I did that before when I was about to leave my very first job after 2 years of service.

First of all, maintaining my first job supported the application process for securing my new job. Since there was a huge transition, I need to undergo trainings that time. I actually ended up, schooling during day time and working during night time just to support myself. Then, few weeks before starting my new job, I handed my resignation to hr. My separation pay helped me survived for those remaining weeks.

If you can support yourself or somebody can support you, you can leave the job right away. Otherwise, it's better to think about the consequences of your decision.