Resigning after less than a year, should you ever do it?


I’m currently in the last week of serving out my notice period at my current workplace. The kicker? I’ve only been with this firm for 9 months. Yes, I did what I never thought I’d do and took a new job having been in my current role for less than a year.

You may recall that I took the role I currently am in because I wanted to work as a Lawyer. As part of this side step into law, I took a huge pay cut and doubled my commute time. The firm that I joined was suburban however was a leader in the field that I work in, boasting national and international clients. Even better, they were willing to recognise my prior non-legal experience and hired me as a 3rd year Lawyer instead of a graduate Lawyer.

I had intended to work at this firm for at least two years before finding a new job back in the CBD at a larger firm.  I hadn’t expected that this opportunity would come along so soon, the timing is never right! I was contacted by three recruiters to apply for the new role and I initially declined all three invitations. The last recruiter was particularly persuasive and suggested that I meet with the firm on a “no expectations” basis. After the meeting, it all became real and I was seriously tempted.

The following is an extract of the pros and cons list which I deliberated over.

Reasons against resigning:

  • It would be inconvenient for my current firm which had only recently invested money, time and effort in hiring and training me.
  • The short time at the firm might look bad on my CV.
  • The current firm treats me very well and have given me great opportunities.
  • The firm has a great culture and offers work/life balance, allowing me to complete my MBA quickly.
  • I am learning a lot from my supervising partner and we get along well.

Reasons for resigning:

  • I would be working at a much larger firm with a national presence, which means greater advancement opportunities and the chance to experience ‘big law’.
  • The new firm was where I saw myself in two years time, why delay if the opportunity presents itself?
  • I would be back working in the city, cutting my commute time and travel costs significantly.
  • I have over 8 years of work experience and have never resigned after such a short period. Therefore, it wouldn’t look too questionable on my CV.

It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to resign so early. My main concern was that I felt like I was betraying my current firm and being ungrateful for the opportunity they had provided me. This was exacerbated by the fact that I had a great relationship with my supervising partner.  It came down to, as it often does, gut feelings. On one hand, the extreme guilt about resigning and on the other hand, excitement about the new possibilities.

Despite my reservations, I bit the bullet and resigned. I was able to do this in a way that reduced my guilt by being completely upfront with my supervising partner at all times. Even before I was offered the job, I had confided in her about the potential opportunity. I made it clear to everybody involved that I was not leaving because of anything to do with the firm, but that rather, it was personal decision. In addition, although I was offered the job just before Christmas, I made sure that I gave my supervising partner a substantial notice period to allow her to make arrangements to replace me.

At the end of the day, I had to make the best decision for my career. Employers will always be unhappy when good employees resign, however they also understand the realities of the modern workforce. If I had stayed, I would have been resentful and regretful. I wanted to put this story out there to let people in the same position know that in some circumstances, it is okay to resign early, as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

That Career Girl


One comment

  1. It’s a gutsy decision, but it sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into it and it just seems like a logical acceleration of your original plan. Chances are that it will work out well, as long as the bigger firm doesn’t just treat you like a very small cog in a very big machine!

    I think it’s important to protect your CV/resume when you are building your career, and I once agonised over cutting short a two year secondment after six months because I wondered how it would look. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, as 18 months later I had been promoted twice and increased my salary by almost 100%!

    Best of luck with the new job – I’m sure it will turn out to be the right move!

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