‘How Do I Explain Why I’m Leaving My New Job After Only Three Months?’ (2023)

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By Alison Green, the Cut’s workplace-advice columnist

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Dear Boss,

I started a new job about three months ago and have quickly realized that it is a very bad fit. During the interview, I asked several questions about things that are important to me, such as thereason the last person left the position, the amount of paid time off, what the culture of the organization is like, etc. My boss has admitted that the hiring panel intentionally gave misleading but technically true answers to my questions, saying that they “know [they] have issues” but that I was a good candidate and they didn’t want to scare me away by being “too honest.”

I’m trying to give this job a shot, but I’ve also started quietly looking for other employment. The thing is, I’m not sure how to address my short stay at my current job with potential employers.
Iimagine it’ll be pretty obvious that I am not looking for “new challenges” after three months, and I can’t badmouth my current employer. On the other hand, I don’t want potential employers to thinkI didn’t do my research before accepting this job. I’m at a loss. (For what it’s worth, I stayed at all my previous jobs for three to five years so I’m not especially worried about looking like a job hopper. I’mhoping I can eventually leave this job off my résumé entirely.)

One more question … is there anything I can do to ensure I get honest answers from potential employers about things like benefits and culture? I want to avoid this situation in the future if I can.

When employers hide the downsides of a job or a work culture from candidates, they end up with resentful, unhappy employees who leave as soon as they can. The beauty of truth in advertising — in this case, being open and direct about the less appealing aspects of a job — is that candidates who will be miserable in the job will self-select out. Ideally, the person who does get hired will know what they’ve signed up for. That doesn’t meant they might not have legitimate beefs once there, but difficult conditions tend to be a lot more tolerable when you knew to expect them than when you feel like you were deliberately misled and that you wouldn’t have accepted the job if you’d had full information from the start.

It takes both courage and self-awareness for a hiring manager to lay out the downsides — of a job, of one’s management style, or of a company culture — which is the reason plenty of people don’t do it. But your manager’s admission that she and the rest of the hiring panel intentionally misled you is particularly egregious.

As for how to explain to prospective new employers why you’re looking for a new job after only three months: You’re right that you can’t credibly use some of the old standby answers like “I’m looking for new challenges” or “I’ve reached the limits of how far I can grow in my current position.” You really can’t use anything vague because it’s going to be clear that something pretty serious is going on at your new job if you’re looking again so soon. Instead, simply explain that the job turned out to be different than you expected. In its most straightforward form, that could sound something like this: “Unfortunately, the job turned out to be different than what I’d expected. I was hired to create written content, but it turns out that they really need someone with a heavy focus on graphic design. It ended up being a very different role than the one I’d originally signed on for.”

It’s easy to do that when the issue is that the job itself is different. But in your case, it sounds like the bait-and-switch was about less about the job and more about deeply rooted cultural issues. In that case, you need to finesse the specifics a little more. For example: “I realized after starting that I wasn’t going to be able to work with the degree of autonomy we’d discussed when I was being hired, and which was a key reason I took the job.” Or: “We’d talked in the interview about the culture being one that values work-life balance and working sane hours, but it’s turned out that most people there work seven days a week and don’t have much down time. I’ve worked long hours for much of my career and I’m looking for something now that will let me see my kids/spouse/dog occasionally.”

Alternately, you could say something like this: “I’ve always had great luck with jobs and worked places where I was happy to stay a long time. Unfortunately, I got it wrong this time — this organization has a lot of strengths, but it’s not as ____ as I’m looking for, and I’ve realized it’s just the wrong fit for me.” (Fill in the blank with whatever makes sense — fast-paced, collaborative, structured, team-based, entrepreneurial, mission-focused, etc.)

I wouldn’t worry too much about potential employers judging you too harshly, especially because you have a solid job history up until now. If you had a pattern of short-term stays, hiring managers would wonder what was really going on — if you weren’t being thoughtful about what jobs to accept, or if you were leaving at the first sign of anything hard or frustrating, or if you were constantly getting fired. But one job that wasn’t what you were expecting? That can happen to anyone, and employers will understand that.

The best way to avoid this in the future is to assume you won’t get total honesty from employers when you ask about things like culture. It’s not that most people will intentionally lie, but rather that managers can have a much rosier view of things than their employees might. And it can be easy for them to gloss over real problems as not being worth mentioning, when those things are exactly the kind of information you’d want to hear about. Because of that, it’s crucial to find other sources to talk to about what it’s really like to work at a given employer. Try to find opportunities during the hiring process to talk to other people who work there. Check LinkedIn to see if anyone in your network is connected to current or former employees who might be willing to talk to you. Check reviews of the company on Glassdoor, if it’s big enough to have them. And pay close attention to the cues that you get during the interview process — things like the type of energy in the office, how your interviewers treat you, how thoughtful they seem to be about ensuring they’re hiring the right person, and especially whether you’re being sold on a shiny version of a company rather than being given a real look at what it’s like to work there.

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+Comments Leave a Comment

‘How Do I Explain Leaving a New Job After 3 Months?’


Is it OK to leave a new job after 3 months? ›

It's not terrible form to leave one job after a few months; just don't make such short stints a habit—red flags arise if this behavior seems to be chronic. Repeated job-hopping can convey an inability to assess a company or role, demonstrate a lack of focus, or raise concern around what led to your departures.

How do you answer why are you looking to leave work after a few months? ›

6 best responses to “Why did you leave your last job?”
  1. Looking for more responsibility and career growth opportunities. Managers love employees looking to learn new skills and take on new challenges. ...
  2. A career change. ...
  3. Company restructuring. ...
  4. Work-life balance. ...
  5. Relocation. ...
  6. Personal reasons.
Sep 2, 2022

How do you explain a 3 month job? ›

How to explain job-hopping in a cover letter?
  1. Explain your job-hopping initially, along with the reason behind it.
  2. No matter what, do not write any bad thing about your past employers. ...
  3. Explain what you gained through those short-term experiences.
  4. Keep it short and be clear about what you speak.
Dec 31, 2020

How soon is too soon to leave a new job? ›

As such, a good rule of thumb is to stay at your job for a year or two. During that time, you've likely completed any probationary period and reached full productivity. This shows hiring managers that you can onboarded essential skills and performed the job with reasonable success.

How do you explain a short job stint? ›

Here are six rules to follow when explaining why you've been job hopping.
  1. Be transparent. ...
  2. Keep it short and sweet. ...
  3. Focus on the skills you gained. ...
  4. Be committed. ...
  5. Provide references. ...
  6. Find the right job.

How long should you give a new job before quitting? ›

In an ideal world, you should stay at each job for a minimum of two years. However, if you quickly come to realize you made the wrong choice when accepting a position, don't feel obligated to stay at the company until your two-year anniversary.

How do I quit a job I started 2 months ago? ›

How to quit a job after a month
  1. Reflect on your decision. Leaving a job after a month is a big decision since it's usually ideal to stay at a job for a year or more. ...
  2. Practice what you're going to say. ...
  3. Write a letter of resignation. ...
  4. Ask your manager to meet privately. ...
  5. Thank them for their time.
Jul 23, 2020

How do you explain a 3 month gap? ›

List of good reasons for employment gaps
  1. Time spent looking for a new job.
  2. Being laid off because of organizational changes.
  3. Taking time off to be a stay-at-home parent or caregiver.
  4. Taking time off for a medical leave.
  5. Time spent furthering your education.
  6. Time spent gaining certifications or licensing.
Feb 25, 2020

Should you list a job you only had for 3 months? ›

Let's start with some blanket guidelines for when to leave a short-term job off your resume. Don't include a short-term job on your resume if: You held the job for less than 6 months. You don't have any relevant accomplishments to list.

Is it OK to quit a job you just started? ›

Why it's OK to quit a job you just started. While the prospect can be nerve-wracking, quitting your job after a short amount of time is actually pretty common. One 2018 survey of 1,000 US workers found that 31% had left a job within six months of starting it.

How do I resign from a job I just started? ›

To quit your job that you just started, make sure you really want to quit by considering the pros and cons for staying, then give plenty of notice with a resignation letter. If you don't already have a job lined up, make sure to start looking for a new job and make sure to finish out your notice strong.

Why do you want to leave your job early? ›

Examples of positive reasons for leaving a job

I feel like I'm ready to take on more responsibility. I believe I've progressed as far as I can in my current role. I need a change of environment to motivate me. I want to develop a new skill that isn't required in my current job.

How do you explain a short stay at a company? ›

Expert tip: How to explain a short employment stint
  1. Be honest. ...
  2. Be proud, it's the modern way. ...
  3. Consider changing the format of your CV. ...
  4. Put yourself in the shoes of an employer. ...
  5. Are you permanent or contract? ...
  6. Remember, look after yourself first.
Aug 20, 2021

How short is too short for a job? ›

Under 1 year should be considered “short”. 2-3 years is normal and shouldn't be considered “short”, except for very senior leadership roles – more on that below. Longer than 3 years: not short.

What is the shortest time you should stay at a job? ›

Experts tend to agree that you should stick with your current job for at least two years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of January 2020, the median number of years that both wage and salary workers stay at their jobs is 4.1 years.

How do you know if a new job is not right for you? ›

10 signs you're in the wrong job
  • Sunday nights fill you with dread. ...
  • You're bored to tears. ...
  • You don't mesh with your boss. ...
  • Your values don't align with the company's mission. ...
  • There's no room for advancement. ...
  • Your skills are stagnant. ...
  • Your workload is overwhelming. ...
  • You're a loner at work.

What happens if you start a new job and don't like it? ›

If you recognize that the problem isn't a temporary one, talk to your manager. Hiring and training new employees is costly for companies, so they naturally want to retain talented new hires for as long as they can. Approach them to have a candid conversation about what you don't enjoy about the job.

How do you explain leaving a job after 5 months? ›

Quit your job after less than a year? Here's how to discuss it in interviews
  1. Prepare an explanation for leaving so soon. ...
  2. Show your impact. ...
  3. Focus on what you learned from the experience. ...
  4. Discuss what you're hoping to avoid. ...
  5. Keep the conversation focused on the future. ...
  6. Talk about a side project. ...
  7. Leave it off.
Mar 21, 2022

What is a good reason to leave a job after a month? ›

Other reasons for quitting your job after a month could be: the role doesn't match the description of the job you applied for. not getting on with your colleagues or boss. not feeling you fit in with the culture of the organisation.

Why do you want to leave your current job in 6 months? ›

Better opportunity. The emergence of a new opportunity to work in a different work environment, earn better compensation or get a more challenging work process is another good reason for leaving jobs. It is reasonable for any employee to go for a new opportunity that offers better terms than their current work.

Why are you looking for a job change after 6 months? ›

Some of the good reasons to give:

Looking for better career prospects, professional growth. Looking for new challenges at work. The company's growth prospects are poor.


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