Q&A: Quitting Jobs For Better Ones


QUESTION:

I just got an offer for a computer programming job that starts immediately. But it’s the busy season at the clothing store where I’ve worked for two years. I hate to quit right now and leave them hanging. I have a really good relationship with the managers here. I should turn down the programming job and wait until it’s a better time to put in my notice at the store, right?

ANSWER:

Showing loyalty to a company is very admirable. And working in the same place for two years will look good on your resume, even if it’s not related to the technology field you are trying to get into. But what’s a higher priority to you — your future career in programming or your current job?

If you have a good relationship with your managers at the store, they will understand why you are quitting and will probably welcome you back if you ever chose to return. You might be able to work part-time or seasonally to earn extra cash. But this computer programming position is the foot in the door that you have been waiting for – and the opportunity might not come around again soon.

There is never a “good time” to quit a job. There will always be a busy season, or a big project coming up. You have to decide what is important to you and your career. As long as you give as much advance notice as possible (two weeks is standard), then no employer can fault you for quitting to take a new job.

QUESTION:

I’m working at a contract position in marketing but I was just offered a permanent communications position. Is it OK for me to quit my contract early?

ANSWER:

There is no right or wrong answer for this one. Some contact positions are like other jobs where you are “employed at will” and can quit anytime, as long as you give sufficient notice (two weeks is standard). Other contract positions are very strict at expect you to commit to the duties and time frame of the project, no matter what. Know what type of contract position you are accepting before you take the job, especially if you continue to job search while in the position.

Besides earning a paycheck and gaining skills, this contract position can also provide you professional references. If you treat your contract position, the company or your supervisors with disrespect, you will damage your professional reputation. This advice also applies if you leave an internship early due to other employment.

The main thing to remember is that you should always honor your commitments and keep open communication with your supervisors. If you know you might have a conflict, give your supervisors plenty of notice so that they can make alternate plans.

And let the managers at your new job know about the situation as well. They might be willing to hold the new job for you while you complete the contract position. You might not think they will wait a month or so for you to start, but a lot of companies will keep a job open until the right candidate becomes available.

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