I quit after a month and you should, too

On the day I completed my 4-month probation, a colleague who had joined a handful of days before asked me for tips. I had two to give. First, don’t overthink it. Second, the company is also on probation. That is the whole point of probation – to assess mutual compatibility.

I quit a company while on probation and I believe we should talk more about it.

In my case, I was ready to leave Playtech, my first non-internship tech job, after almost three years. No single major reason, but a bunch of smaller ones that added up making me think it was time to go. I browsed through thousands of job ads. I spent countless hours tweaking my resume to fit the positions I found interesting. I applied to several companies and positions. I did a multitude of interviews. I even got a handful of offers out of which I accepted one.

Based on the interviews, I truly believed this position matched what I was looking for:

  • It was a product management job, Product Owner to be exact;
  • The team seemed competent and the previous PO was with the company to onboard and educate me;
  • The company was respected and well-known;
  • The compensation package was excellent and the salary increase from my previous position was noteworthy;
  • They allowed remote work.

Little did I know that I would be miserable there.

On most days, I woke up with tears in my eyes, feeling a massive resistance to get ready and open my laptop. “Is work supposed to be so hard?”, I pondered. I could not remember the first months at Playtech being so devastating. Was this a mismatch or was I simply too weak? Was this a job or an onion?

There were many reasons for my unhappiness:

  1. Both the domain and position were new to me and there was a steep learning curve.
  2. The product was a legacy SaaS solution and there was no opportunity for innovation. At the time, it was only about keeping it alive while we were looking into what other wobbly grandpa software to replace it with. I am a disruptor and an innovator – the best use of me is on innovation, improvement, and creative types of projects.
  3. I did not understand the product I was working with and it was not clear to me what I was supposed to do with it, nor what was expected of me.
  4. I was also assigned an additional product that no one really knew the plans for. While it was an interesting customer service tool, it was too overwhelming at the time. Maybe if it had been just the CS product, things would have ended differently.
  5. While I could work remotely, which was nice, there was no good remote work culture and I was lacking social contact. Everyone was working on their own. This was a stark contrast with what I had experienced at Playtech where I also worked remotely for a while. At Playtech, we had online coffee corners and the chats were always bustling with news and random comments. I never felt alone or lonely.
  6. I was assigned to the office where my business clients were located instead of where my dev team was. When I went to my dedicated office, there were little to no people there and the few that were, were always on calls. My manager also worked from home. It was difficult to feel like I belonged.

Looking back, there were many questions I should have asked during the interviews to get a better understanding of whether the product and company fit me. Most likely, I was too desperate to get any product position to go into the details. However, no decision should be made under pressure. This is something I have learned and will be sure to focus on next time I apply for a product management position. You live and you learn, eh?

In any case, after figuring out that I’d rather be unemployed than cry myself to sleep every day, I handed in my resignation after a month. Of course, there were doubts. Was I giving up too easily? Where would I go next? What if no other company wanted me? Classic overthinking.

Fortunately, I could allow to be unemployed thanks to my savings and governmental support. And contrary to my worries, there were plenty of companies who wanted to employ me.

While we all do our best to ensure a good fit between a position, company, manager, and candidate, sometimes, some things just go wrong:

  • As a candidate, I should have paid more attention to whether the company and product were a good fit for what I was looking for. I should have asked better questions, requested demos, and critically assessed the information. I should not have decided under pressure.
  • The hiring manager could have assessed me more critically. Some colleagues told me that they had warned the hiring manager about this product needing a different personality than mine. However, their feedback had not been taken into account, leading to my receiving and accepting the offer.

While I regret having spent the time of the people who hired and onboarded me, I am grateful for having had this experience as it taught me about what I am looking for, how to behave at interviews, and what to pay attention to when applying.

Sometimes, shit happens. But we do not have to stay in it. As long as we treat the situation as a valuable learning experience, there is no shame in saying bye-bye to a company during probation. Remember, the company is on probation, too.

Disclaimer: I realise I was fortunate (not lucky, because I have worked diligently for my financial security) to be in a situation where I could afford to be unemployed and that you might not be in the same position. That being said, life is too short to stay in situations we don’t enjoy or find useful, so I hope you stay true to yourself and find the best way forward for you. Let me know if I can help.

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