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How soon is too soon to quit a new job you hate?

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It's an all-too-common scenario: You've spent months interviewing for a new job when you finally secure a gig you're excited about — until you start your first day and realize it's nothing like what you thought it was going to be.

A majority, 72%, of millennial and Gen Z jobseekers have felt this sense of surprise or regret that a new job or company was very different from what they were led to believe, according to a January survey of more than 2,500 young jobseekers from The Muse.

The feeling of "shift shock" could get even more widespread during the Great Resignation, says The Muse founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew. Recruiters are desperate to hire quickly and jobseekers can't get a full picture of a hybrid work workplace.

So if you find yourself hating your new job, how soon is too soon to quit?

When to call it quits

In today's tight job market, where candidates have the upper-hand, young jobseekers say it's increasingly acceptable to quit a bad job in a short amount of time.

From the survey, 20% of millennial and Gen Z jobseekers said they'd quit a job within a month or less if it turned out differently than what was advertised, 41% would give it two to six months, and 15% would give it seven to 11 months. Just 24% would try to stick out a bad job for a year or more before moving on.

Of course, whether you should actually quit is a highly personal decision, Minshew says. Only you can assess: Are there elements of this job that could be harmful to your mental health or professional career? Or is it just very different from what you expected or are used to?

Some things are clear warning signs to get out quickly, like witnessing unethical behavior or workplace harassment, Minshew says.

If that's not your situation, however, "there are also working environments that are challenging, or very different from your expectations, but where there also may be a lot to learn," Minshew says.

How to make a bad job a little better

It also has to be said that not everyone can just quit and go without a paycheck while they find a new one. In those cases, Minshew says, you might be able to make a bad job a little more tolerable while you job hunt on the side.

If you feel comfortable doing so, Minshew suggests having a candid conversation with your manager about the discrepancy between the image you were given during the hiring process, and the reality you're experiencing in the role. It's possible elements of the job were misinterpreted through several rounds of interviews with recruiters, the hiring manager and different members of the team.

Some of these differences could be unintentional misunderstandings your manager has the power to change, like your work hours, whether you're expected to work in-person versus remote, or even a project you were told you'd be assigned to. Working these things out could become "an opportunity for professional growth and not something that you immediately retreat from," Minshew says.

Ultimately, jobseekers have the upper hand in today's tight market, and recruiters have a responsibility to advertise roles and the company's culture honestly. If they don't, they could face another wave of resignations in a few months' time.

As Minshew puts it, the old advice of staying in a bad job for at least a year, even if you don't like it, "are not the rules we play by anymore."

Check out:

Why it’s so satisfying to watch people complain about their jobs on TikTok: ‘People are sick of work’

72% of young workers say they’ve regretted a new job after starting

Here’s what to say during an exit interview—and what to leave out

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