Leaving A Job After 6-Months: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Are you considering leaving your job after only 6 months of employment? Worried about what might happen to your career? We’re going to break down the good, the bad, what to be concerned about and how to handle it. All in this guide.

Before we start it’s important to recognize that the workforce has changed. If you are a young millennial reading this guide, the workforce isn’t like your parents describe it any longer. Having a job for more than 5 years is fairly uncommon in today’s standard. In fact, it’s somewhat common, especially in the technology/software sector to change positions every two years.

Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world, commonly cuts the bottom 20% (in terms of performance) of their workforce every few years in an effort to keep performance at the peak levels. This means for Amazon employees, security might not be feasible.

Leaving a job after 6 months is much easier to explain than say, leaving a job after 3 months.

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What Will Future Hiring Managers Think

When you leave a job, it’s important to consider how you leave. You need to leave on a positive note. And when you leave quite soon after your employment begins, you’ll need to figure out how to navigate the conversation with your existing employer so that they understand your reasoning for wanting to make a change. This is so that they’ll provide you letters of recommendation and other assets which you can give to your next hiring manager.

Pro tip: TalentNow reports that 40% of employees surveyed in 2018 mentioned that they plan on changing jobs in the next year. This means more employers are seeking employees who may be a more stable and long-term hire.

The best way to leave a job is to simply explain, “I’ve received an advancement opportunity that I’d like to pursue.” Something along those lines is all you have to say. There’s potential that your existing employer might offer you a raise or another position in lieu of you leaving. But if you don’t feel like that’s an option, then you should still resign.

By resigning on a positive note, you’ll be able to tell your future hiring manager that the reason you are looking for another position is for the exact reason you told your past employer, for advancement. Hiring managers aren’t going to look at a position on the resume that was only 6-months long as a negative thing. At least not by today's standards. If you left after 3-months that may be a different story.

For the most part, hiring managers aren’t going to think about a 6-month long employment stint as a negative thing. So you’ll be okay!

Issues On Your Resume

If you left your job after 3-months, you’d probably want to leave that employment experience off your resume. It looks bad to have something that only lasted 3-months. But 6-months should be just fine.

Do your best to include that experience on your resume and find what achievements you were able to make in that amount of time. It will require some creative thinking to position what those achievements might have been in such a limited amount of time. The larger the company is, the more difficult it will be to achieve something great within the company during your 6-month timeline.

Be sure you spend time really considering what a future hiring manager might interpret as a positive thing within that timeframe. Even if it’s simple contributions towards already existing teams, products, sales or other.

Explaining The Reason Behind Your Leave

Hiring managers and interviewers are always going to ask about your previous employment. And it’s a fairly common thing to ask why you are looking for a new job and why you left your previous job. It’s important that before you leave or resign from your existing position, you have your reasoning all aligned.

The reason why it’s important to have this aligned is that your future employer may contact your previous employer and ask them questions related to your employment experience. And it’s not uncommon for them to ask what the employer thought the reason for your leave was. Meaning, you don’t want to tell your future hiring manager that you left for an advancement opportunity while your previous employer says you left because you were difficult to work with.

This is the most important thing you can spend your time on, especially with clear communication, before you decide to resign from your position. Make a plan, have a plan and execute that plan with all the parties involved. The best thing you can do is tell a slight white lie about the reason you’re leaving. If you are unhappy with the position, don’t mention that. Say, “This new position you found is an opportunity to garnish a new skill.”

Effects On Your Career Path

It’s very important to recognize that leaving a job after 6-months will not have any negative effects on your career path. But what you should be concerned with is leaving multiple jobs after 6-months. For example, if you left your current position after a short period of time and then another one after that. What that might communicate to future employers is that you aren’t very loyal to the company and they might not hire you because they are anticipating your leave within the next few months. And for employers, that means more work is going to be required in replacing you before you’ve even had the opportunity to contribute to the environment.

This means, be cautious of what your resume is communicating indirectly. If you have a series of jobs where you left after a short period of time, that communicates something. Additionally, if your accomplishments don’t speak for themselves within that amount of time, it’s going to look even worse. You might want to consider staying at a position you aren’t 100% happy with until you’ve had a chance to get past the 6-month mark. That way you can correct what your resume is saying.

The milestone for having a job communicate that you are loyal is around the 1 year and 6-month mark to the 2-year mark. These are considered “long term” engagements with your employers. While that’s not the 10-years it once used to be, employers have recognized that’s there are plenty of new opportunities available in the market and that has evolved the way hiring happens.

How Do You Resign

If you are worried about how you resign from this position, tactically, then you should look at our guide on how to quit a job. In that guide, we cover effects on your reputation and how to prevent any mistakes. We also cover your resignation communication and basic steps required in other to resign from your position on a professional and positive note. Some of those steps include:

  • Keep your decision private in regards to other coworkers.
  • Make sure you have to resignation conversation in person with the appropriate manager.
  • Provide more than enough notice. Two weeks is the standard, but depending on your particular workload and industry, more time may be appropriate to offer before leaving.
  • Make sure to have a schedule for the resignation. Pick a day that you absolutely need to leave and let your manager know it will be your last day.
  • Rehearse what you’ll say. Rehearsing what you’ll say may feel odd or not genuine, but it is a wise this to do to avoid any faux pas or unprofessional mistakes when actually resigning in person. Rehearse your reason for leaving and everything else you plan to say and do your best to stick to it.
  • Prepare for a counteroffer. We’ll get into this later, but be prepared for your manager to offer you something in return for staying with the company.
  • Ask if you can use the company or your manager as a reference. This is important to do if you really want to use the company as a valuable reference when applying for other jobs.
  • Offer to recommend replacements and then train those replacements.
  • Leave with a “thank you” and sending a warm email to your coworkers thanking them for being on a team with you.

We also cover basic guidelines on resigning from your position so that you know what mistakes to avoid. If you are truly in need of help when it comes to learning how to resign from your job, I would urge you to read through that guide on quitting your job and take your next steps.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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