Is it ever okay to quit a new job? Let me explain. I work in media. I recently started to go freelance, taking short-term jobs. A friend suggested me for a 2-month job with a well-known company I’ve always admired. The project sounded interesting, would let me use my experience, and would be a very nice addition to my portfolio. So I agreed to a significant pay cut and accepted. But. Right after I’d been hired, another company was brought in and changed the whole project. My job now requires me to do work I have never had any interest in doing, on a project I no longer respect. In fact, I think the project is now a disaster. I’m not a quitter and I and I don’t want to let down the friend who brought me in, but I never would have taken this job if I’d known the project was going to change so dramatically. It’s so bad, I don’t even want my name attached to it. So, is it okay to quit or am I missing a bigger picture here?
Dear No Name (are you that embarrassed about this?),
Believe it or not, this one's actually simple. Because the position description has changed so dramatically, and because it's a consulting assignment, I don't think you should have any qualms leaving. The employer didn't live up to the arrangement. The only problem is that you would need to tell the friend who referred you in advance, and explain your quandary, thank profusely for the lead, but that the gig didn't turn out to be what was described to you, and has turned into something entirely different. No bigger picture to worry about.
Sometimes people worry that their name might get tarnished in their industry, but in this context, it doesn't sound like you are leaving for a frivolous reason, and the industry has so many components, it would be highly unlikely that it would do you any damage.
I've taken a much more cynical position about this topic in general during my career. Organizations over the past several years have not particularly engendered loyalty, so I always tell clients that it should go both ways. The organization would have no problem letting someone go if a market shifts in even very small ways, so why can't you do that? You can leave THEM if there's a better market for you. Why not?
Of course, there are many contexts where it's not great to do this, especially in small industries where a reputation can get hurt, or where you may burn through a significant referral. I always take this on a case by case situation, examining all the details involved. But, as I mentioned above in my moment of cynicism, I think that the work culture has changed to a point where you have to think of yourself always as an independent contractor, who moves from project to project, even in so-called permanent employment.
Many of my peers and others will probably be horrified by my dismissal of "loyalty," but hey, it's tough out there.
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