Everyone has, at one time or another, reached this stage in their careers. They no longer enjoy their work and begin to think about leaving for pastures new. Some even consider starting their own businesses and being their own boss instead. While I would normally urge taking action and learning from your experiences, this is one area in which I would urge extra caution and a little more time spent in planning and preparing your next move.
Tempting as it may be to quit your job, it’s a big gamble. It could work out brilliantly. Then again, it might not. If it’s not thought out properly, the results could be disastrous. We all need money, for food, bills, rent, mortgage and living expenses and in order to keep earning this money, we have to work. It may not be the job you want or enjoy, but it supports your lifestyle. That is not to say that you should just carry on as you are. Too many people stay in unsuitable jobs for fear of failing to better themselves if they leave. When your job stops motivating you, and you begin to seriously contemplate quitting, this is a warning sign that it’s time to take action.
The most important thing to do is to figure out why you want to leave. What is it that this job no longer offers, which another one might do? Do you really have to leave in order to get what you need or want? Next comes an attitude adjustment. Until you find another job or launch a business, your current job is where your head should be at. If you have become unhappy and distracted, switch your focus. Rather than thinking about what you are currently lacking, spend a week finding 3 things a day which you like about your job and for which you are grateful. Practicing gratitude is a very powerful and effective way to adjust your attitude when you become disillusioned.
Now that you have asked yourself some serious questions and adjusted your attitude, you need to plan your next step. Whatever your intention, you need to speak to your manager. This is the person who will provide a reference if you leave, after all. You never know, they may even be able to offer you a pay rise or a move to a different area within the company instead. You won’t know until you ask.
Not in any particular order, but there are a few things which you will need to do once you have decided that your future lies elsewhere. Firstly, find a new job first. This is not always possible, especially if you only take jobs with short-term contracts but if it is, this is the way to go. The truth is that it is easier to find a job when you are already working. There is a negative stigma attached to unemployment which can start alarm bells ringing for recruiters and hiring managers, putting you at a disadvantage. Once you have the ball rolling on this, audit your online presence. Google your name and see what comes up. Audit your social media accounts and remove anything potentially embarrassing. An increasing amount of recruiters are screening applicants in this way, as they can’t afford to have their reputation tarnished by an abusive social media outburst.
While applying for other jobs, look closely at the skills listed in the job adverts and think about how you could refresh these while in your current role. What staff development/ training opportunities can you take advantage of? This is a perfect opportunity to learn as much as you can before you leave which will help you in the future. Whatever you do, don’t become distracted and take your foot off the gas.
Lastly, if you are to leave don’t burn your bridges. Your current employer may become a client in the future, or a stakeholder, so it’s important to maintain some kind of relationship and goodwill. Work out your notice period as agreed with your manager, and in this time maintain your work ethic and integrity. That is not to say that you can’t, discreetly, seek out networking and business development opportunities before you leave.
If you have reached the end of the line and want to leave your current job, here are a few tips;
- Reflect on the reasons behind your wish to leave. Do you want more money? Are you lacking a challenge? Is the commute too far?
- Speak to your manager first. Be open and honest about your situation and how you feel. They may be able to facilitate a raise, one day a week of working from home or perhaps a secondment to another department/ division. Even if none of these appeal to you, your manager will be writing your reference so it’s important to maintain a good working relationship with them.
- Update your details on your CV, LinkedIn profile and any other recruitment tools which you might be using in your job search.
- Audit your social media accounts and online presence, as these will undoubtedly be visited by prospective employers or clients. Identify any red flags and edit your accounts accordingly.
- Before you resign, take advantage of any staff development/ training opportunities which might make you more attractive to another employer. Think in terms of skills which you can refresh or gain a basic grasp of. Take advantage, too, of any networking opportunities. Any relationship which you forge now could, potentially, be carried forward into your next role.
- Make sure you have enough money saved to support you for at least 6 months. This will ease the financial pressures of starting a new job or branching out on your own.
- Lastly, having accepted a new role elsewhere or launched a business, continue to work to the best of your ability until the day you leave. This is, after all, a measure of your integrity. That is not to say that you can’t use any downtime to carry out some research for your next role, or use social media to promote your new business.