How to Quit a Job You Just Started without Notice

You worked hard on your resume and aced the interview. When the call came to tell you that you’d got the job, you could have jumped for joy. But not all dreams have a happy ending—I hate my new job! Now you need a guide on how to quit your job immediately.

You might feel guilty, and you might feel embarrassed. But if you hate your job, there’s only one thing for it. You’ve got to leave. But how? That’s what this guide is all about. First, we’ll take a look at three very good reasons to quit a job straight away. Hopefully, you’ll feel less embarrassed about the whole situation once you’ve had a read of them.

Afterward, we tackle the all-important question: is it illegal to quit a job without notice? Then we take a look at the pros and cons of the different ways you could leave—or maybe even stay. Finally, we’ve got a little advice on how to move on after quitting a job you just started, like what to do with your resume and what to apply for in the future.

Don’t worry, though: the only person who can decide what to do now, is you. So, take a look at our guide below, and see what’s best for you.

Why Quit a Job You Just Started?

Quitting a job you just started is something that nobody wants to do. But if your job doesn’t turn out to be what you were promised, you have every reason to leave.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should quit after starting a job:

1) My Employer Lied to Me

The chief reason anybody should leave a job they just started is that their employer lied to them. And it’s not uncommon: according to a Harvard Business Review survey, 58% of people would trust a stranger rather than their boss.

If any employers happen to be reading this, the following doesn’t apply to all of you—some employers are unscrupulous and would do anything to get ahead in business. That includes lying to new hires.

The deception could center around:

  • The salary you’ll be paid
  • Where you’ll be working
  • What you’ll be doing all day
  • How much you’ll be doing
  • Who you’ll be working with
  • What it’s like to work there (more on that later)

If you lie to your employer, that can be cause for dismissal. Unfortunately, you’re not protected in exactly the same way. That being said, you can always take matters into your own hands by quitting.

2) Unusual Company Culture

Company culture, if you didn’t know, is simply what a place of business is like. Some businesses are laid back, others less so—you’ll be expected to work flat out. Others are fun and vibrant, and some are dull. Some encourage competition, whereas some encourage cooperation. That’s company culture, and each company has a different one.

Typically, a business describes their company culture through the job description you found in their advert. So, for example, they might say that they want a team worker who’s confident. You can infer that the company culture there will be one that’s based around everyone working together, and nobody being afraid to speak up.

Sometimes, though, businesses aren’t what they were advertised as being. Sometimes hiring managers will expect a business to be a certain way—but it’s really not. And this isn’t just about what you’re good at, it’s about who you are as a person: maybe you’re extroverted, and you can’t stand working on your own in a cubicle all day.

3) Workplace Bullying

Last but certainly not least, some workplaces are toxic. According to Forbes, a shocking 75% of workers are affected by bullying. Three quarters is an incredible figure, and bullying is no laughing matter—especially if it’s very bad.

In a way, this is like the company culture gone wrong: your office is hypercompetitive, insular, unkind and unpleasant to be a part of. This can happen anywhere. All it takes is a bad management team, who encourage this kind of behavior and exhibit it themselves. Before long, the whole place is filled with people like them.

is it illegal to quit a job without notice?

Workplace bullying is normally obvious from day one. It’s like high school. You immediately know who the bullies are, which groups are which, and who comes where in the hierarchy. If you’re unlucky, you might immediately bear the brunt of the bullies’ ill will. If not, they might want you to be a part of their group.

Like we said, this kind of workplace is obvious from a mile away. If you want to quit straightaway once you join, go for it—because workplaces like these don’t magically turn themselves around overnight. The only question is whether you should work your notice, or just quit on the spot. But is it even legal to just leave?

Is It Illegal to Quit a Job Without Notice?

Short answer? No. It’s not illegal. However, it might not be in your best interests. It all depends on how you’re employed by your employer.

The key question is as follows: Do you have a contract with your employer, or not?

If you don’t have a contract, you’re what’s called “employed at will”. This basically means that so long as both you and your employer want you to work, you can; the moment one of you doesn’t want the other, you’re free to leave. You’re legally allowed to leave without notice. Of course, the flip side is that your employer is allowed to fire you without notice, too. Etiquette dictates that you should give two weeks, but you don’t need to.

If you do have a contract with your employer, it almost always stipulates the length of time that your employer wants you to work after you hand in your resignation. This is usually two weeks, but maybe longer. The only way to find out is by checking your contract.

If You Quit a Job Without Notice Do You Still Get Paid?

If you don’t have a contract, you don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that. Whatever you worked for, you can get, but nothing other than that.

If you do have a contract, you have to abide by that contract. Since your contract stipulates how much notice you were supposed to give, if you leave before that time, you’ve broken your contract. You, therefore, will be paid, in your final salary, for any work you’ve done already. But you won’t be paid for the time you didn’t work. And you might also be liable for other costs, too.

Let’s say you quit your job on August 15th. You get paid on the 1st of every month, so your next pay packet would have been on September 1st. On September 1st, you’ll be paid for every day you worked until August 15th and no more. However—and here’s the crucial part—you may also be liable for any costs incurred by the employer as a result of you breaking your contract.

This includes the cost of other employees working overtime to cover you or the cost of temporary staff. This could actually mean you get nothing come September 1st. This might not be the case for you, though: it all depends on your contract, so take a look and see.

Best Way to Quit a Job You Just Started

So, still dead set on leaving without notice? Maybe not. Let’s take a look at the three options you’ve got, and their pros and cons.

1) Try and Resolve Your Problems

We know it’s not what you want to hear, but trying to resolve your problems is a great first step to take. Nobody ever got anywhere by sitting back and not trying to get the best out of a situation.

If you’re not the kind for confrontation, bear in mind that you’ll be quitting your job: that’s stressful and confrontational enough, so why not start by trying to get what you want without leaving?

It’s a simple, three-step scenario:

  • Ask for a meeting with your boss or manager. Make sure you show that it’s serious: don’t downplay the importance of what you’re going to say when you ask. Your boss might refuse you, in which case you know where you stand—and where you’re going. But if you can talk to them, it’s a chance to turn things around. It also shows that they’re at least slightly concerned about employee welfare.
  • When you have your meeting, be open and honest. Tell your boss that you’re considering leaving, and talk about the real reasons why. Do you feel like your responsibilities aren’t in line with what you were offered? Or do you prefer working as part of a team, and you’re stuck on your own? Ask what they’re willing to do to change things for you.
  • If they promise a change, stick around for another week or two. You might immediately be transferred to a different department. Or, you might be given some different, more challenging work straight away. Just sit back, and see what happens—you might be in luck.

best way to quit a job you just started

Pros: If your boss takes your concern seriously, they might be able to help. Who knows: it might turn out to be your dream job after all. It’s also a useful experience to have under your belt. Learning to confront your boss when you’re unhappy doesn’t come naturally, but you can learn—and this will help.

Cons: If your employer is unscrupulous enough to lie, then it’s unlikely that they’ll do anything if you ask. They promised you the world before you started work. So, when you ask them why things are worse than you expected, they’ll promise you the world again. If you go down this route, tell yourself that if things don’t improve within two weeks (for example), then you’re leaving—period.

2) Hand In Your Notice

Your next option is to hand in your notice. This might not be what you want to do, admittedly. You’ll normally have to work two extra weeks, somewhere you hate. Or even more, depending on your contract. That’s a strong argument in favor of doing things the ‘right way’, and handing in your notice before you leave.

In the meeting we described above, you could come in with a prepared notice, just in case. If they don’t want to live up to their promises, hand it in. It’s as simple as that. You’ll normally be required to work your notice, but if you only just started, you might not actually have to. That’s because it’s at the discretion of your employer. They could simply say that they’re happy for you to leave.

The best thing about this scenario is that your employer has to pay you for the period of notice that you were willing to work. If you work the notice, of course, they pay you; but if you would have worked it, and they told you not to, then they have to pay your wages all the same. It’s a win-win scenario.

Pros: If you want to include this job on your resume, it’s important that you leave on good terms. You may also be liable for costs if you leave, depending on your contract. This could mean the difference between getting your full paycheck and getting literally nothing. Who wants to work for a couple of weeks only to get paid nothing for it?

Cons: If you really hate working there, then the biggest drawback is that you have to stay for another couple of weeks. Your employer may also try and con you by telling you they didn’t want you to work, but not paying you anyway. We’ve already established that they happily lied to get you into the job, now they’re lying while you’re leaving—it’s not impossible.

3) Quitting a Job Without Notice Letter

The third option is the one you came to see: just leaving, and lifting the weight from your shoulders. Do I have to work my notice if I resign? No, you don’t, although there are some drawbacks. It’s definitely tempting, and there are often good reasons to do just that. It mostly depends on how long you’ve been working there.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you started your new job three days ago. That’s almost nothing, and depending on your salary, you might not even have earned that much. Do a little calculation, and figure out how much you’d be missing out on if you just left. Don’t forget to include the amount of notice that you’d have to work. Would you be happy giving that up? Maybe you would—it depends on how bad your workplace is. Bullying is an excellent example of the very worst workplaces.

On the other hand, you might have worked there three weeks now, and you’re still waiting for your first paycheck. Leaving now might mean that you get nothing, depending on the terms of your contract. According to Breathe HR, your employer can take you to court to force you to pay these costs and damages, although that’s a very rare circumstance indeed.

In short? It’s all up to you, and it depends on how you value your time.

Pros: Leaving is leaving. You don’t have to work with bullies anymore, or work a boring job day after day. Ultimately, that’s all you want, and you could have it tomorrow morning if you really wanted.

Cons: There are quite a few. First, you might be forfeiting your pay. Second, there’s no chance of a good reference. Third, it would count against you in future interviews/applications. But having said that, it’s not always something you have to mention…

How to Find a Better Job in The Future

You’ve left: well done. If you didn’t have another job lined up, it’s time to get your nose back to the grindstone. We don’t have to tell you about the effort required to land a job. But what you might not know is exactly how to skirt around the issue in the future.

Be More Careful when You Apply for Jobs

The first thing you have to do is be more careful when you apply for jobs in the future. A misleading job description might have landed you with the terrible job you just left. That’s why you have to be more careful in future when you’re applying for jobs.

how to quit your job immediately

Consider the following options:

  • Don’t send out dozens of resumes a week. Spend more time on tailoring each and every application you make, and only apply for the best. That means picking with descriptions that match your skills and your needs, rather than just one or the other. This might narrow your pool of options at first, but there’s no point getting a job you don’t like or that you’re not suited for (as you know).
  • Check on sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to find out more about what it’s like to work there. Glassdoor has objective and anonymous reviews that give you a real impression of a workplace. Checking for your employer on there might have saved you the trouble of applying for their job offer.
  • Find contacts at the company through platforms like LinkedIn, and directly ask them. Send them a quick message just to get an idea of what it’s like to work there, and see what they say. Inside information is always useful, and this is another way to get it.

Other than that? All you have to do is apply for jobs as you usually would. Just make sure you’ve updated your resume first.

How to Tailor Your Resume

Tailoring your resume after a big life event is difficult. Took a year or two off? Sacked from a job? Or quit right after you started? Whatever happened, the question remains of how to reflect that in your resume.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of including it (or not).

Option 1:

Your first option is being honest on your resume. That means listing this last job as you would any other job. Unfortunately, this looks bad at first glance. Your new employer will wonder why you left, and will carefully consider whether you would do the same to them. This will almost certainly count against you.

That being said, honesty gets you a long way. If you’re asked about it at interview—which you certainly will be—tell the truth: I left because the responsibilities in my position didn’t reflect the job advertisement, and I wasn’t suited to it, for example. This honest approach shows the interviewer that you know your strengths and weaknesses, which is actually a positive.

Option 2:

Your second option is to skirt around the issue completely. Instead of listing it on your resume, just don’t mention on it. This may or may not work depending on your job history. If you have had a number of jobs in the past, it won’t look so bad. And if you got the new job fairly quickly, you won’t be left with too big a gap in your resume.

If you were there for a couple of months, however, it might look odd to a new employer. The best way around it? Make up a little white lie: you took the time to travel, or spend time with a new family member. Or, alternatively, you were dealing with resolved health issues. These little lies aren’t related to your ability to do the job, so even if you’re found out after you’re hired, they can’t count against you as a cause for dismissal.

And, really, that’s all you need to know about quitting a job you just started without notice. Your next step should be to take some time to yourself. Have a think over a coffee, or while you’re taking a walk. Carefully consider whether it’s going to worth it to you to quit without notice, both in terms of money and in terms of your future prospects. Because the only person who can decide what to do next is you.

Here’s some advice on whether you should quit your job before you have a new one.