You want to quit your job and are wondering whether it’s the right decision. That will depend on your answer to two questions. First, why do you want to quit? Second, what are you going to do instead?
Leaving a full-time job is a complex and personal issue, and there is no algorithm or app to tell you what to do in every circumstance. That said, there are factors that you should consider and a way to quit that should not prove detrimental to your career.
This article looks at some possible scenarios and how to handle them from the rosiest of contexts to less desirable work situations.
If you’ve found your dream job, it’s a no-brainer, right? Well….maybe. If you’ve done your due diligence, then you're good to go. But are you sure the new job is all it’s cracked up to be? Many jobs claim to be one thing, but the reality turns out to be quite different.
Have you researched the company on Indeed and Glassdoor to check what other employees say about it? Have you checked and considered what the benefits package is like?
For example, is the healthcare package up to snuff? If the company is offering you stock options, what’s the vesting period? How much vacation do you get, and do employees actually get to take their vacation? Cover your bases so that you don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire.
Who doesn’t want to earn more?! Money is a good reason to change jobs. However, there are many other things to consider.
Will the work stimulate you and align with your core values? Does the position have the potential to provide long-term career growth? What is the commute like? Do you like the culture of the company and the people you will be working with? Would your quality of life be better or worse? Would you lose benefits like childcare? You might be making more money, but you also might have considerably more responsibility or have to work longer hours. Is the added responsibility worth the extra pay?
These are all factors that you should weigh before deciding to leave your current employer. Due diligence applies here too. Make sure that the job title you are considering is what it seems. Talk to other employees if you have doubts.
If the only reason you are leaving your current job is for more pay, it’s time to put your negotiator hat on. Talk to your employer and tell them that you would rather not go, but you need a raise. Make your case. Most employers would rather pay you more and keep you than have to find a replacement.
You might have discussed career growth and promotion with your employer, but they cannot provide it. In this scenario, you really have no choice but to initiate a job search. It is not uncommon for an employee to outgrow a company. This is a natural part of career progression, and your employer should be understanding if you both agree that there is nowhere for you to go in that company.
If this is the case for you, try to line up a new job before you quit your current job to maintain finances. When you do quit, leave on good terms by helping your ex-employer find and train your replacement. Give adequate notice for a smooth transition. Hopefully, it will earn you a solid recommendation that you can use to find new opportunities in the future.
In this scenario, first, find out why you hate your job and explore ways to solve the problem. Has the COVID-19 pandemic taken its toll? Do you hate the work that you are doing? If so, is there a possibility of moving to a different department, or will things change as your company returns to more normal operations? Do you hate the commute? If so, is there an option to continue to work at home? Do you crave better work-life balance? Second, talk to human resources about your problem and have some possible solutions already prepared.
If you hate your boss and have tried to communicate better with them, that might be a relationship that cannot be fixed. You would be better moving on rather than being persistently passed over for growth opportunities and a promotion.
However, if your personal life is stressful, or if you have suffered a traumatic event recently, this can cause you to make a hasty decision. You might be burned out, too. Take a vacation or take the time you need to think about what is best for you in the long term. Two or three months is a reasonable time frame to see if your perspective changes. Then, if you have explored all possible options with HR, it might be best to quit. But have a plan before you do.
Life can get in the way, and you may find yourself in a situation that requires you to leave a job. For example, you might have to care for a loved one, you might be recovering from an illness or surgery, or you might be relocating because your spouse has a new job.
These periods could later appear as gaps on your resume, but most employers understand these circumstances, and they don’t have to reflect negatively on your growth. Show a future employer how adaptable you can be. Perhaps while caring for a loved one, you took online courses in your free hours and learned a programming language.
If your work environment is unsafe, abusive, or you are experiencing prejudice, these are reasons to quit right away whether you have another job or not. Any potential employer will understand why you left a company if those were the circumstances under which you left.
That said, try to have another job lined up before you quit. Being unemployed also has social, physical, and mental health consequences. If you are unemployed for a significant amount of time, it can be even harder to get a new position because your skills can become dull and out of date.
The opportunity to travel does not come very often and you should grab it if it comes your way. Studying or working abroad is an investment in your future because will learn from different cultures and work situations. The diverse experiences make you more valuable to an employer.
Ideally, plan out what you want to do before you quit whether it be finding a new job, going back to school, or traveling. Once you have a goal, it will be easier to decide what steps you should take in the short term to ensure a source of income, and the best decision might not involve quitting...yet.
For example, consider the following:
If you want to go back to school, discuss your goals with your employer. You might be able to work part-time, or you might even be able to secure some financial support if your employer stands to benefit from your skills in the future.
If you want a career change and don’t have your employer’s support, can you take online classes in the evenings or your spare time while still employed to learn the new skills you need to follow your vocation?
If you intend to explore entrepreneurship, could you still work part-time for your company in your current role or do something else at work until your business is ready to launch?
Map out what your journey will look like and how you are going to manage health care and finances if you leave your current job. A good rule of thumb is to always have five to six months of living expenses saved up.
Before you resign from your job, find out what your obligations are in terms of the number of weeks' notice you should give and what benefits you should receive. For example, are you eligible for COBRA, an insurance program which gives some employees the ability to continue health care insurance coverage after leaving employment? Are you due compensation for vacation time not used?
When and if you do resign, do so amicably. That way, you stand a better chance of getting a letter of recommendation and keeping your superiors and colleagues as LinkedIn network contacts. In ideal circumstances, here’s what to do.
Your resignation letter does not have to explain why you are leaving, but if you can, do so without painting the company or your boss in a poor light, it would be a nice gesture. You should include the last day that you intend to work. You should also thank the employer for the opportunity to work at the company.
It is best to deliver your resignation in person. That way, you can answer any questions that your employer might have and discuss whether you are prepared to help train a replacement and ease the transition.
You may receive a severance package from your employer, which may include your final paycheck, compensation for unused paid time off, vacations, and a 401(k) account. Depending on the situation, you might also qualify for government unemployment benefits.
Research your benefits before you quit so that you know what you should receive and how to avoid having to relinquish them. Some companies enforce penalties if an employee leaves without giving sufficient notice.
We actually have an entire article on this topic if you want to do a deep dive on how to quit.
Leaving a job is something that everyone does as part of their career progression, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you are “quitting.” Talk to family members and lean on your support system. If you follow the guidelines laid out in this article, you are quitting the right stuff at the right time, and the next job opportunity is right around the corner.