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The First Jobber: When To Leave Your First Job

by Kausern Hieu, Country Manager of Nuffnang Malaysia.


The First Jobber series is designed to help fresh graduates make that transition from student to employee. There are a lot of mistakes you can make and a lot of time wasted if you don’t know what to look out for. Personally, I wasted a lot of my precious time trying to figure all these out by myself after I graduated.


Hence, as an employer now, I wish to share some tips and actionable steps with you with the hope of helping you secure the job that you want and subsequently for you to adjust well into your first job.

WHEN TO LEAVE YOUR FIRST JOB


So, you are thinking of quitting your first job but you’re not quite sure if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Questions such as, “Should I power through it and hope that my situation will improve?”, “Should I start looking for something better while I’m still at my current job?” or “Should I just quit anyway?” would be running through your mind. These questions aren’t easy to answer and it can be emotionally exhausting just thinking about it.


The truth of the matter is that there is no golden rule stating when you should leave your first job. Your situation can be quite different from another colleague who started the same time as you. It’s unique to you because it’s dependent on many factors such as your personal career goals and financial goals.



However, before we get into the reasons on when to leave your first job, here are some reasons NOT to leave your current job:


  1. Just because your peers are doing so after they have “completed their one year”. Eventhough the industry’s average turnover is about 1 year for first jobbers, it shouldn’t be the primary factor determining your decision to move on.

  2. Just because the going gets tough. If you’re struggling with your tasks, instead of giving up, you should get help. Speak with your boss and explain which aspects of your job you need support. As there are no instructional manual like a school text book, sometimes, you just need to take the initiative to learn more about your job in your own time. Growth happens when you struggle.

  3. When you have not proven your worth. If you are unable to document your milestones of success and the skills you have acquired in your current job, you will not be as attractive to your future employers compared to someone who has paid his/her dues.

  4. When you have not secured a new job. Quitting without a new job waiting is risky especially when you don’t have enough money in the bank. Even if you possess a strong set of skills and your experience is in-demand, finding a new job isn’t always as quick and predictable as you might think. And when your bank balance starts to deplete rapidly, you will become desperate and may just accept any dubious job that comes your way.

  5. When you need the benefits. If you’re currently enjoying a decent benefits package which you absolutely need at this stage of your life (and you are certain that a prospective future employer will not be able to match it), you may want to review your options again.

  6. When you’re burnt out. A recent report stated that WHO recognized ‘burn-out’ as a medical condition. I’m not playing down the fact that people do suffer mentally from overworking. However, you need to ask if your current crazy working conditions is something seasonal or permanent. Could it also be the task is new to you, hence it’s taking a longer time for you to crush it? If it’s something temporal, taking some time off for a vacation (even a short one) could just be what you need as a quick fix to re-energize you.

  7. When you didn’t get that promotion. I get it. You’re angry. Quitting may seem like the best solution, but decisions made in haste aren’t always the best ones. Consider reframing this piece of news. Seek feedback from your supervisor and ask what steps you can take to consider for a promotion. I covered this point extensively in my last article.

And here are a few indications that tells you it may be time to leave your current job:

Image: Robert Half


  1. When the job offered doesn’t match your strengths and skills. Sometimes the job you accepted doesn’t match with how you imagined it during the interview stage. Of course, you need to give yourself some time to acclimatise. However, if the work you’re tasked to do is consistently misaligned with your strengths and you’re not enjoying it at all, you’re most likely in the wrong job.

  2. When you are no longer learning or feel challenged. If you have hit the growth ceiling and you are no longer learning in your role, it’s time to move on. How would you know? Well, you’re bored because you can even do your job in your sleep. In fact, if you’re starting to develop an agitation and are unhappy every day coming to work, you should strongly consider sitting down with your boss to explore options for moving vertically or horizontally within the organization before you tender in your resignation.

  3. When the work you are required to do is against your personal values. If your job requires you to do something which bothers your conscience even after you have brought it up to your management, it’s time to plan your exit.

  4. When your company culture is toxic. If you’re being mistreated by the people around you (your bosses and co-workers) and it’s putting your mental or physical health at risk, start looking for something new now.

  5. When you’re grossly underpaid. I get it that for some of you, money isn’t the only reason to stay at a job. However, if you know you’re consistently doing an exceptional job and your employer refuses to pay you according to the market rate even after you’ve spoken to them, it’s time to seek greener pasture. Please do your research first on the current market rate before you jump to any conclusions. Don’t feel bad about doing this because you deserve more and you have to take care of yourself.

In closing, if you have tried everything to make your current job situation work out for the better but yet it is still unsuccessful, then it’s time to move on to better opportunities.

Remember to remain professional until the very last day you depart such as completing proper handover and maintaining a positive relation with your co-workers. As your prospective employers might conduct a reference check by getting in touch with your former employer, it’s therefore important to leave your job on a positive note.

If you have any further queries about this topic, please leave a comment or write to crunch@nuffnang.com


Previous articles:

Should I Apply to Work in A Big Company or a Small Company?

What to Put On Your Resume if You Have No Job Experience

How to Standout in An Interview for New Graduates

I Got My First Job. Now What?

When Is The Right Time To Ask for A Raise or A Promotion?




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