I know I’ve been in this position myself, where I accepted a job offer from an employer on a Monday, and before I even started, called back two days later and quit. Why would I have done such a thing? Of more concern to some, why would I be about to tell others that there are times when this is the right thing to do?!
This very situation came up during last week with the daughter of a co-worker. The daughter is a bright girl – or young woman depending on your preference – all of eighteen years old. Having been asked to look over her resume and make some suggestions, I noticed she had exclusively had experience in the field of recreation. March break, summer camps, after school programs; it was all confined to working for a local municipal recreation organization.
One of the things I was impressed by, was that according to her mom, she felt the need to get some experience doing some other work, in a different field, because she was thinking that down the road, it would give her different skills and that would be helpful on a resume for something else. This then was one of the first things that impressed me. Building a diversity of skills is always a solid plan that can put anyone in a position to adapt to job markets, change fields with less stress, appeal to an employer in many circumstances, and gain some empathy for people in other lines of work.
To carry on, what she had done was applied to a few different restaurants as a Waitress, with her eye clearly on one in particular, and to hedge her bets, and because she needed income, she also applied at a Boys and Girls Club, which provides children and youth recreational activities. Well, you guessed it, the Boys and Girls Club called her up and offered her a position. This position would bring her immediate income, and having completed her high school credits but not quite ready to make the leap to University, she is taking the year to upgrade her marks, and is therefore again in high school in what some call, the Victory lap. Saving money for University while essentially maturing and figuring things out just a little more, so she is emotionally ready for the move to campus and everything that comes with it.
So the turmoil is now the reality of knowing she has a job (yeah!), but not the one she wants as her first choice (boo!), and if she gets offered a job as a Waitress (yeah!), she’ll have to quit the job she’s accepted (boo!). This is the emotional conflict she is experiencing which goes against her ethics of quitting something and leaving the employer without a staff member when they’ve been gracious enough to hire her. While some people might not have any conflict of ethics at all, I suggest this conflict bodes her well because it attests to her qualities of responsibility, loyalty and dependability. She doesn’t want to ruin her reputation in any of those areas, and of course leave the employer in the lurch.
Now at eighteen, and having got a job in a youth organization, one thing is guaranteed; the Boys and Girls Club will have numerous applications from other young people who will jump at the chance to take the job if they get a call offering them one. So while it’s frustrating for organizations such as this, they are prepared to deal with these situations, and do so in fact on a regular basis. Contrast this for example with an organization searching for a CEO who might have to restart a hiring campaign taking the better part of a year to source the right person. Hardly comparable.
So how do you quit and leave the least negative impact? First of all, if the job you really want is offered to you, you accept. For the immediate moment you now have two jobs, and of course school on a full-time basis. Not being able to carry such a load, you must drop one job, and in this case the one which you earlier accepted first. Good advice is to think of the Band-Aid removal process. Drag it out, and it pulls hairs with it, and there is a prolonged stinging as each individual hair causes pain. However, grab hold and pull it off quickly, and it’s a sharp pain immediately and it’s over just as fast.
Pick up the phone right away and talk with your Supervisor directly. Two options immediately come to mind; you say you opt to concentrate on your school work to upgrade your marks, or you lay it all out and say you had previously applied for several other jobs and one has presented itself that will give you skills in different areas, and allow you to put more away to pay for University. The first option might be sticky if the employer has dinner out one night and you are the Waitress, whereas the second choice is understandable.
The worst thing you can do is delay informing your Supervisor at the first job you accepted. This only delays the inevitable, prolongs your stress, and of course the employer is still in the dark. Make the call or go in to see them in person. This can be a very character-building exercise.