At the start of this year, I walked away from what I thought was my dream job. It was with the company I interned for during college and was my first full-time job after graduating. Needless to say, making the decision to leave after 2 ½ years was an incredibly tough one.
In our twenties, we’re often told that when we’re not happy in a job, we need to stick it out. No one wants to be deemed a ‘job hopper’ or walk away from something too soon. But is facing the daily grind of a job that might not be right for us worth it?
Here are some tried-and-true tips for making a successful job transition, from knowing when it’s time to quit your job to move forward with a new opportunity.
Knowing When It’s Time to Quit
One of the hardest parts of any job transition is knowing when it’s time to quit. Oftentimes, we become attached to our jobs – the routine, the familiarity with what’s expected from us, and the people we work with. If you’re someone who doesn’t like change, making this decision can be especially tough.
This might sound cliché, but the best way to make this decision is to listen to your intuition. However, there are some red flags to look out for that can make your decision a bit easier. Here are some tell-tale signs that it might be time to walk away:
–The work environment is toxic. Toxic work environments are often characterized by poor communication (or a lack thereof), unethical leadership, gossiping, unreasonable demands and unhappy, overworked employees. This is something that should be taken seriously, as it can lead to burnout and can really take a toll on your personal life.
–You bring negative energy home. Speaking of your personal life, another sign that it might be time to leave your job is if you’re bringing the negativity you experience at work home with you. If work is constantly on your mind, this isn’t fair to you or the people around you. While this is normal on occasion, not being able to turn your mind off of ‘work mode’ can have serious consequences.
–You never want to go to work. Work is work, and there are days where you would much rather stay in your cozy bed than get up early to go to the office. However, if you find yourself constantly dreading going in and are always having the Sunday scaries, it might be a sign that it’s time to move on.
–You’re not being challenged. If you feel like you can do your job in your sleep, this might not be a good thing. In the same way you wouldn’t want to stay in a job that’s overly stressful, it’s not beneficial to stay in a job that doesn’t challenge you on occasion. The challenges you face at work help you grow – whether it’s personally or professionally. If you’re too comfortable in your job, you might be stagnating your professional growth.
–You don’t see a path for growth. Speaking of growth, another sign it might be time to leave your job is if you don’t see any opportunities for advancement. A promotion won’t be given to you overnight, but if you don’t have goals your working towards, such as advancing within the company or even earning higher compensation, it might be time to start the job search.
–Everyone around you has left or is leaving. While this isn’t enough of a reason to leave your job alone, if you’re experiencing any of the above signs and a significant amount of people have or are leaving the company, it might be a sign that it’s time to go. Look at it this way: it could be a key indicator that there are better opportunities elsewhere.
No matter what, don’t let anyone else make this decision for you – whether it’s to stay or leave. Remember, you’re the only one that experiences the full effect of your decision. However, it can be helpful to talk your decision process through with someone you trust. Just be sure that the person is neutral to the situation and won’t sway you either way based on their position.
Gracefully Quitting Your Job
When it comes time to quit, remember that getting cold feet is normal. Even if you’ve carefully thought through your decision, you might struggle with some doubts. However, don’t let this get in the way of moving forward.
Here are some steps to follow when it comes to putting in your two weeks:
–Plan how your responsibilities will be delegated. Even when you leave, the company must go on. To maintain a good reputation with your employer and coworkers, make a plan for how your responsibilities will be transferred when you’re gone. If one of your coworkers will be taking them on, offer to meet with them and provide them with the necessary training to do the job well. It can also be helpful to put together written training aids to leave behind.
–Write a letter of resignation. A letter of resignation is an opportunity to express your gratitude and provide necessary details of when you will be leaving the company. This is a vital step, as many employers will keep these on file as documentation of when you left and the amount of notice you provided.
–Plan what to say when you quit. It’s normal to feel nervous about meeting with your employer, so spend some time planning what you’ll say and practicing it beforehand. Remember to keep it light, positive and don’t feel like you need to explain every little detail of why you’re leaving. Focus on the fact that you have a new opportunity and thank your employer for all they’ve done.
–Talk to your manager or employer first – in person. Office chatter spreads quickly -and sharing your plan to quit with one of your coworkers can make its way to your employer before you know it. Out of respect for the company and your boss, keep your plans to yourself until you’ve shared the news with your employer. Additionally, make sure you take the time to meet with your employer in person. This shows that you care!
–Work hard until your last day. While it might be tempting to check out for the remainder of your time, make an effort to work hard until your very last day. This will go a long way with your employer and coworkers and can help to maintain a good reputation with your employers and coworkers. Aim to remain just as professional as you were day one on the job.
–Keep in touch. You never know when you’ll need your previous employer or coworkers to be a reference. There’s also always a chance that you might work with one of them again! Try your best to keep in touch – connect on LinkedIn and social media and make an effort to stay in each other’s lives. This will only benefit you in the long-run!
Things to Avoid
Quitting a job can be a stressful experience. Because of this, we often act on our emotions. Here are a few things to avoid in the process:
–Quitting over email or text. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when leaving a job is doing it over email, or text. If you absolutely have to, a phone call may suffice, but meeting in person is always best.
–Not giving proper notice. No employer wants to be left high and dry. Leaving a job without providing adequate notice can leave a bad impression and can hurt you later on. Try to provide at least 2 weeks’ notice, if not more. This is especially the case if you’re in a manager role.
–Placing the blame. Accusing your employer, peers, or anyone else in the company for you leaving isn’t beneficial for anyone. Even if you are leaving because of your boss or someone you work with, keep this information to yourself. You never know when you might need a reference later down the line.
–Having a poor attitude. Even if you’re leaving a job you don’t like, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude throughout the duration of you being there. Show gratitude, be positive and uplifting and be willing to put in the hard work to finish strong.
–Packing up your desk in front of your coworkers. If possible, try to pack up your things before or after work on one of your last days. Out of courtesy of your employer and coworkers, it’s best not to disrupt the day by you packing up your things in front of everyone. Also, make sure you leave it neat and tidy for the next person.
–Leaving without a plan in place. Whether you’re moving on to another job, will be doing freelance work or plan to take some time off to travel, make sure you have your next opportunity lined up before quitting. This will help to ensure you don’t have a gap in your resume and will give you peace of mind knowing where the next paycheck will come from.
Once you’ve left a job, it’s time to move forward and start a new chapter! Even after you’ve finished your last day, it’s normal to feel sad (or you might be happy!). Whatever your feelings may be, give yourself time to process them so you can start your new journey off on the right foot.
No matter what your experience was at your previous job, try to focus on the positive – the people you met, the things you learned, and the challenges you grew from. Take this with you into your next job and be excited about what the future holds.
The transition period between jobs certainly isn’t easy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t doubt my decision a time or two. However, as time has gone on, you’ll be able to look back and see how everything fell into place. Remember – it’s in these challenging times that we often learn the most!
What tips do you have for making a successful job transition? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!