Some people know when it’s time for a job change. Others may not even realize how unhappy they are until someone points it out to them. For whatever reason, when you’ve decided to quit, there are both good and not-so-good ways of doing it. We’ll get to those soon, but let’s take a moment to consider if quitting your job is truly in your best interests.
You probably feel it in your gut but, if you want to double-check yourself, FlexJobs’ CEO, Sara Sutton Fell, has a good checklist of 14 signs that your job is no longer a good fit. Wait to read it until you’re in a calm emotional state.
Sara Fell’s 14 signs raise legitimate concerns but there may be an overriding lesson to be learned here. Realize that no one else is going to step in and fix things for you. It usually takes time for a job to become intolerable, did you see these issues coming? What have you done about it so far? Can anything be done now to make the job worthwhile again?
The first step is to speak directly with those giving you problems. Be non-confrontational but clear about your concerns. Be willing to listen, but take the liberty of voicing concern about lame excuses. If direct interaction is not possible – or you tried and failed – go a rung higher. If the organization is worthwhile, bring your concerns to your boss (or if he/she is the problem, seek another with whom you have a good rapport). If the issues are with co-workers or your direct supervisor, be sure to ask for confidentiality. Rehearse your stories to make them clear, concise and based on non-exaggerated facts.
With a mind unfettered by your troubled emotions, evaluate your situation. Seek the counsel of a trusted source outside the organization. If you’re sure it’s time to move along, make your plan to find a new opportunity. You might want to hold off on your quitting until that next job is at hand.
There was a big question at stake when I said earlier, “If the organization is worthwhile …” Is it on a path of sustainable success or headed down the drain? If the culture is something that you still believe in, despite things going awry, then stand up. Speak to that senior exec you trust. Your efforts may help get the culture back on track. Your insight and bravery might even earn you deserved kudos.
But if the culture is not worthwhile, or if senior management only pays lip service to it, then speaking up may only hasten your departure. In these cases, keep your lips buttoned while you line up your next job.
Once you’ve decided it’s time to leave, follow Andrew Oliver’s advice. Don’t go public with your complaints (including social media). There’s also no need to get too specific about why you’re leaving. You risk soiling your reputation, so just smile and say “… this new opportunity is just too good to pass up.” After all, once you’ve said you’re leaving, most of the people listening are those looking to brand you as unfair or a whiner.
Offer two weeks’ notice and to help with transition, but don’t be surprised if they let you go immediately. The day you announce your decision, seek letters of and/or LinkedIn recommendations. Others may seek you out to share gripes. Do not participate and, once you’ve left, don’t go back to the workplace without an invitation.
The feedback you get on your last day might be helpful. Knowing you’re gone, many people will be more honest in their assessments of your strengths and weaknesses. Finally, a vibrant network is critical to your future success. Keep in touch with those co-workers you will really miss.