How do you know when it’s time to quit your job? The decision to leave can be very complex and it’s not often clear cut – as the famous words go “to be or not to be”?
We all have different incentives to what makes us "tick but there are common signs you are ready to join the "great reshuffle"
1. You are no longer growing
This applies to skills or money or both. If you are capped with no prospects for growth you are likely on a countdown to losing job motivation. I’ve been in roles I really enjoyed, but the job scope was set up in such a way my prospects for new skills or promotions were zero. While I continued to do my role with the same due diligence, I had nothing to look forward to, I knew it was time to look for something new or I would have continued to feel "stuck".
2. Your manager or work environment are bad
Yes, managers are still the number one reason people leave jobs. Nothing is certain but death, taxed and employees quitting due to poor management. It’s not enough to love a job, bad management will nullify most of the satisfaction you have in the role.
Equally, a bad work environment causes stress and anxiety.
If your manager is the problem but you love the company and work, navigate other roles internally. Before you sail into the sunset it's worth looking at internal opportunities - you keep the things you love, but you get rid of the cause of pain
3. You are not in alignment with your purpose
Everything is great on paper – the role is fantastic, paycheck is a bliss, the team and manager are everything you are hoping for. Yet, something isn’t clicking.
You might be suffering from a misalignment between job and purpose. The clash can lead to lack of fulfillment, feeling lost and spending more energy than what you are getting back. To make things even more confusing, you can be overperforming and the role still might the wrong one for you. Equally, if it was right 5/ 10 years go it doesn't mean it will stay that way for the rest of your life.
It's hard to recognize the signs and to let go, but if you are constantly in a state of numb or lost it's time to investigate.
4. The job doesn’t match your life style or needs
Work from home is a prime example. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation for many organizations. Where the roles permit it, employees wish to continue to benefit from the flexibility. Why not at the end of the day? Work from home can save time and money commuting. It provides a better environment for people like me who find the open space is a purgatory. It also caters better to needs, life etc.
5. You wouldn’t wish your job on anybody
A bit of a strong tell but if you would urge people to avoid taking your role like it was the plague, yeah… it’s time to leave.
You’ve realized it was time to hop onto your next adventure and have a new job offer you have accepted. Now what? As much as you might want, you cannot just jump on a magic carpet and storm off never to be seen again.
1. Let your manager know you are leaving followed by the official resignation email / letter to HR
Even if you hatted everything about it and were counting the minutes to tell them you are leaving, keep it polite and neutral.
I’ve always preferred notifying my former managers in a live conversation (call, in person) as opposed to email as it feels more personal and less "see you, bye"
- Start with "thank you" – I would share what I appreciate about them or they have supported me with. If there is nothing specific you can pinpoint, go with a generic version "thank you for your support over the years"
- Break the news – “I want to share I have accepted a new job offer. While I appreciate my current role this next opportunity allows to (insert reason) and is aligned with my career plans”. The reason can be anything generic (don’t get too personal or into too many details): develop a new skills, pursue a passion etc
- Communicate the end date – in most cases this is the legal notice unless your country's legislation / contract don't stipulate one. For the latter you would mutually agree on what the timeframe can be. Typically, you would give your employer at least two weeks in order for them to plan.
- (Optional but recommended) share a potential transition plan - these will be the things you set in order during your notice period so that things don't go up in flames once you leave
After the conversation with your manager, an official written notice still needs to be send to HR or the appropriate department, even if you have received verbal confirmation.
2. Consider your reaction to a counteroffer
Your employer might offer an increased salary or a different role in the company. Ahead of notifying your manager you are resigning consider, in depth, the reasons for which you decided to leave and what anchors your decision.
If money wasn't the reason to begin with chances are that won't keep you happy for long. A recent study showed 80 % of employees who accept a counteroffer end up leaving in 6 to 12 months regardless. You are also telling your employer you are flight risk, potentially reducing the amount of investment they are willing to put into you.
3. Prepare for a knowledge transfer
You want to leave things behind you as clean as possible and a knowledge transfer can be a way to ensure that. This can be as simple as a list of activities you are doing today, actions that need to be taken after your official last day and resources for anybody new to learn and understand what steps need to be taken.
When I left my role in global talent acquisition I created a document that contained:
- Main job responsibilities and links to the tools I used on a daily basis
- Important contacts and context for each of them
- Pending actions for the next 3 months, deadlines and brief risk assessment
I also set up a call with my manager at the time to walk them through the document and its contents.
I would extra encourage you to have a robust knowledge transfer plan if you are moving internally. What ends up often happening is people get pulled back in their old role while onboarding for the new one. You can instead re-route queries to the document containing the information.
4. Set expectations and contract handover for internal transfers
At the beginning of my career I found myself in messy situations of doing two roles at a time as a result of internal moves and lack of planning on my side. It's stressful and endlessly annoying to be doing your former job while trying to figure out a new one. As an internal employee the lines can be blurred because you are still there...sort of.
To avoid that trap and spare yourself endless hours of frustration you must contract and set boundaries:
- Ensure knowledge transfer. If needed go back to point 3. Have a document in place you can reference and send people to.
- Contract with your previous manager availability once your new role starts and do NOT agree to do two roles at the same time. When I transitioned from recruitment to accessibility I was very clear with my management what resources I left behind and in what type of situations I can be contacted in. I did not deviate from that. While my management kept to the agreement other members of the team naturally tried to push and pull. My response was "please see handover document link and for further details please reach out to X manager who is aware of the transition plan”
- Delete all the emails from the former job and remove yourself from internal tools you shouldn't have access to anymore. You cannot help with queries on whatever topic from the past because you don’t have tool access and your emails were deleted. Clean slate.
5. Reach out to your internal contacts and share ways to stay in touch
Once the immediate team is aware of your plans to leave, you can reach out to your key contacts to notify them and share ways to keeping in touch – LinkedIn, personal phone number etc. Network is power, you don’t want to leave without those important contacts.
6. Inform your new employer you have resigned and share the confirmed start
Any employer expects some last minute renegues and issues due to candidates submitting their resignations. To ensure they are not continuing recruitment and potentially doubting your start, let them know you have resigned and what your confirmed start date is.
7. Treat people respectfully during the notice period, do your job as expected and leave on a good note
It’s a real small world people, especially if you work in tech. You might think you will never have to work with the same team or people ever again, but that is often not the case.
Additionally, a common practice is for companies to do on hire background checks. The last thing you want is for your former employer to share how unprofessional your behavior was towards the end and make the new employer question your integrity.
Even if you hated every second of it, scream in a pillow and leave with your head high.