That can be surprisingly difficult to do. How do you make sure you quit for the right reasons? How do you find a new job while employed? Here are questions to ask yourself that can help you think through your complicated relationship with your job and make the best decision.
Everyone Is Quitting.
Here’s the Right Way to Do It.
More than 4.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in November alone — the highest one-month total on record. Much of the turnover has been in hospitality, retail and other lower-wage jobs that have been particularly challenging during the pandemic. But the desire to move on — whether quietly or with a very public flourish — cuts across industries.
“Everyone was playing musical chairs and constantly in motion, and in 2020 the music stopped and people looked around and said: ‘How did I even get here? I didn’t even know I was playing this game,’” said Jess Wass, a career coach and consultant in New York. “They are coming to me more because they are miserable — they hit their breaking point and figure there must be another way.”
Are you really ready to quit?
Carefully consider what’s motivating you to make a change. Perhaps you’ve been feeling antsy in your current position for a while, or you’ve figured out that you’d rather be in a different industry or role, or you feel like you’re ready go out on your own and work as a freelancer or start your own business.
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then it’s a sign you need to look for a new opportunity. You should start by thinking carefully about what’s going on in your current organization. Maybe you’ve noticed people you respect are leaving the company, profits are down, or changes are implemented with little notice or rationale. This could be a sign that your organization is the problem, and you might want to look for a similar job with another employer. Perhaps you don’t have opportunities to learn and grow, or you work for a boss who is impeding your career. In this case, your job might not be a good fit, and you might seek out a position in another part of your company. Lastly, consider whether you’re actually prepared to take your next career step. If not, focus on building your career assets — your reputation, your industry knowledge, or your network, for example — to equip yourself to make a move in the near future.
Before giving your notice, coach and consultant Dorie Clark says you might want to consider whether your problem with your current organization can be remedied. She encourages you to share your concerns with your manager. For example, if your company has announced that everyone needs to come back to the office and you’d prefer to continue to work from home, you can ask if an exception can be made. The answer may be no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask before you quit. Or if you’re worried that there’s no room for growth with your employer, ask to get involved in a project or initiative that interests you or request a development program that could teach you new skills.
Money is another reason many people want to leave. If you feel you’re being underpaid, or if you’ve gained new skills or experiences that make you especially marketable, inquire about a raise, making a reasoned argument about why a salary increase is merited.
Of course, a pay increase won’t help if you’re miserable every day. Consultant Mary Abbajay says you shouldn’t have to stick it out if you have a bad boss or work in a toxic culture: “If you dread going to work every day, if you feel physically or mentally unsafe at work, if you spend more time thinking about your boss than your work, if stress from work permeates the rest of your life, if your self-esteem has plummeted, it’s time to go,” she writes. “You must give yourself permission to make a career change — to let go of hope that things will get better, and to overcome the fear of quitting.”
Reasons not to quit your job
You’re receiving criticism from your boss
Newsflash: When someone is paying you to perform a job, they have the right to decide if you’re meeting their expectations or not. Even if you don’t agree, try to find a grain of truth in the criticism. If you get offended and quit every time your behavior or your work is criticized, you’ll be changing jobs quite frequently.
Consider this: According to a Leadership IQ study, 46 percent of new hires will fail because they lack the ability to accept feedback. The study also found that 23 percent of new hires can’t recognize and manage their negative emotions, while 15 percent have the wrong temperament.
Even if you have a bad boss, think twice about quitting. It’s important to learn how to deal with difficult people. If the situation becomes unbearable, consider taking your case to human resources or ask to transfer to another department.
You were passed over for promotions
Let’s be honest: No one who’s been passed over for promotion ever thinks the person eventually selected was a better choice. Each one of us wants to believe that we are the best choice. However, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this type of decision.
For example, some companies promote employees based on seniority, while others are concerned with looking for candidates who can not only motivate employees but also hold them accountable. If you’re the type of person who avoids confrontation at any cost, you might not be considered for a team lead or a management position.
On one occasion, an employee was passed over for a management position because this individual left work every day at exactly 5:00 p.m. — not 5:01 p.m. or 5:02 p.m. Regardless of what was going on or what deadline was looming, the employee refused to stay one minute past 5:00 p.m. However, the other managers at the organization rarely left work on time, and if they did, they would often continue working when they arrived at home.
It’s in a company’s best interest to promote the most qualified people, so being passed over for a promotion is rarely a case of someone who is “out to get you.” Before you throw in the towel, try to discover the common denominator among those employees who’ve received promotions to find out what they’re doing that you are not. Also, consider what you would do if you moved to another company and did not get promoted there. Would you quit again?
You want more money
For example, your current job may be quite flexible, while the new workplace might not be as accommodating. You may be accustomed to coming in late, leaving early, or even working from home when the kids have events at school or medical appointments. How would your lifestyle change if the new company had a more rigid schedule and required employees to request time off months in advance?
Also, when evaluating a compensation package, consider more than just your salary. An affordable health insurance plan should be a major consideration — especially if you’re the primary provider for your family. You also need to factor in the amount of vacation and sick time the new job offers. If you plan on going back to school, don’t forget to find out if your current employer — or a new one that you’re considering — offers tuition reimbursement.
There are other “little” factors that, when taken as a whole, could eventually become a major plus or a major negative. For example, if you’re going from free, close, and secure parking to a job with remote, paid parking, this not only means that you will now have to pay parking fees, but you’ll also be standing around (in the heat, rain, or snow), waiting to be picked up and dropped off at your office. Also, because you’re parking so far away, the chances of running errands on your lunch break are greatly diminished.
Another consideration: If you’re quitting a job that is 15 minutes from your home for a job that is 45 minutes away, this will increase gas consumption, wear and tear on your vehicle, and stress levels, especially if you’re spending more time in traffic.
In addition, if you’re leaving a job with a low-cost cafeteria or the ability to store your lunch in the refrigerator for a place with no economical place to eat nearby and limited or no refrigerator space, you might end up spending significantly more on your meals.
You want to start your own business
There’s a big difference between quitting your job to start a new business, and leaving because your new business has been up and running for a while. According to Entrepreneur, while 75 percent of small business owners are supremely confident that their company will be profitable, 50 percent fail in the fifth year, and at the 10-year mark, 70 percent of small businesses have gone belly-up. The vast majority of these failures are a result of cash flow problems.
It should also be noted that only 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first two years. This fact is important because one or two good years can create a false sense of success. That’s why it might be better to hold on to your day job until your business has been successful for several years.
How to quit your job
Know it’s OK to disappoint others
You’re in the driver’s seat of your life. No one else knows what’s best for you but you — not your parents, your grandparents, your spouse, your best friend, or your mentor. If you make a career choice to please others before you please yourself, you may grow to resent those people in the long run.
Also, you’re the one who has to get through each day, and no one else can or will do it for you. If you know that quitting your job is the best choice for you and your family, trust that others will see it too.
Along those same lines, one obstacle to pulling the plug on your current position often has to do with the feeling of loyalty to your co-workers and managers. Though this might seem like a noble action, if your work is impacting your quality of life — you’re not doing anyone any favors by staying. Your manager and co-workers might be disappointed or sad to see you leave, but ultimately they should understand that you need to do what’s best for you.
Have a game plan
Also, before you quit your job, it’s important to note that it’s typically easier to find a new job or make the transition to a new career path while still employed at your current position — especially when it comes to your finances.
Two weeks’ notice is the business norm and common courtesy to your employer. Even though you may not be technically required to give more notice than that (check your contract), in some situations you may consider doing so anyway. If your position is specialized, complex, or mission-critical to the company, you may think about staying longer to give your employer time to find your successor. If your industry has a busy season, you may time your departure in a way that does not leave your team in a lurch.
If your employer asks you to stay longer than two weeks, you are under no obligation to do so. Instead, continue on with your plan so that you start your new job at the scheduled time. You can offer to help your previous employer after hours to help with the transition, if necessary.
Update your resume
Once you have your game plan squared away, it’s time to focus on your resume. Make sure you’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to properly update your resume and sell yourself in an interview before you quit, in case your company decides they don’t want you to give two weeks and has you leave immediately — which is something they are allowed to do.
Too overwhelmed to update your resume? Hiring a professional resume writer to help you out will not only take the pressure off you, but a professionally written resume also helps you land the job faster — and even helps you earn more. The transition between quitting your job and landing your new position shouldn’t be overly stressful.
This may be difficult for some of you, particularly if you did not enjoy a smooth relationship with your boss or co-workers. If you would rather resign by text and never see the office again, resist the temptation to do so. Instead, make sure you write a resignation letter and (if possible), tell your supervisor in person. If you are currently working from home, you can email or video chat with your supervisor, but make sure to have an official resignation letter on top of that.
Within your letter, make sure to include a brief explanation of why you’re leaving, thank them for the opportunity, and let them know when your last day will be. Stay positive, emphasizing how the company has helped you and why it’s time you need to move on.
Leave with grace
If and when you do decide to leave your job and send a goodbye email, do so as gracefully as possible; don’t burn bridges if you can help it. It can be a small world, and people remember those who handle things in a respectful and appreciative manner.
If you quit your job without notice, in a rude manner, or in a way that can harm your professional reputation, that could follow you around to your new job, your job search, or even a new industry. Trust us, you never want to ruin your professional relationships this way — you never know when you might need to call on these connections later in your career.
Thank people for the experience, the opportunities, and the learnings that you are taking with you. Have a private conversation with your mentor or sponsor and other people who have been supportive and helpful. And, if you choose to, stay connected. Whether you use Facebook, LinkedIn, email, or meeting up for coffee, stay in touch with the people who matter to you.