Feel like quitting? It’s important to ask yourself some key questions before you hand in your letter of resignation.
Moving jobs is consistently rated by psychologists as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life (more stressful, for example, than the birth of a child or planning your wedding). So it’s vital for your own well-being that you manage the whole situation very carefully.
Before you even begin to start the process of hunting for a new job, you need to ask yourself the key question – what’s my motivation?
Why Do People Start Looking Elsewhere?
People look for new jobs for a whole host of reasons, but they generally fall into one of the following groups:
- Dissatisfaction with the work they’re doing
- Dissatisfaction with their remuneration
- Dissatisfaction with their working environment
- Dissatisfaction with their manager(s)
It’s interesting to note that people are often only motivated into actively looking for a new job when they are unhappy with more than one of these aspects. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s my advice.
What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting
Before you storm into your boss’s office with your letter of resignation, you should think carefully about whether your dissatisfactions can be resolved in your current situation. Let’s look at these one by one.
1) Feeling Unsatisfied?
If you are finding your current work is unsatisfying, first check if there are other, more interesting projects coming up for which you could volunteer. Or, if you are finding that your expertise is causing you to become “pigeon-holed” into one area, look into whether there are internal opportunities to cross-train into different and more exciting areas, and gain new skill-sets.
2) Struggling on Your Salary?
If you’re unhappy with your salary, you need to check whether you are being fairly remunerated for the work that you do. This information may not be easily obtained within your company because of individual confidentiality, but job-boards contain a lot of data, and sites like Glassdoor will give you a rough idea of whether you are being paid what your skills and experience are worth.
If you have been with the same company for a long time you may find that your pay has only increased by small increments each year, and your own boss may be unaware that your salary is unfair in relation to the market as a whole. Before you hand in your notice, you should at least talk to your manager, armed with the relevant information, to give them a chance to improve matters for you.
But be warned, you may have already hit the salary threshold for your skill-set, in which case you should think about learning new skills, developing niche expertise or taking on more responsibilities.
3) Unhappy with the Working Environment?
Your working environment covers everything from the company culture (which you probably can’t change) to the working hours and your work-life balance.
People’s needs change throughout their careers: if your domestic situation changes because of childcare needs or caring for a relative, talk to your HR department or manager about adjusting your working hours.
Increasingly, companies understand the cost to them of losing experienced staff (and having to find and train replacements) so they are much more willing to be flexible in accommodating the needs of their teams.
4) Bad Manager?
Perhaps the hardest problem to resolve is a bad manager. Micro-manager, absent manager, unappreciative manager, bully…it’s an old truism that “people leave managers, not jobs”.
If you’re feeling unappreciated you may need to run an internal PR campaign and make sure that your boss has realised all of the things that you’ve achieved for the company.
If the person you report to is irrepressibly miserable, or a shameless bully, you may have the capability to neutralise or ignore their toxic behaviour. However, it may be too emotionally-exhausting and this will be all the worse if the company’s senior management don’t seem to care.
Focus On Being Happy
So, if your managers are steering your company onto the rocks, while paying you a pittance for working every hour under the sun…it’s maybe time to go.
At least you have investigated whether the situation can be saved, and by looking at your motivations you will know which aspects are most important for you.
This will save you many hours of pain and stress in the job-hunting process because right from the start you will know what your “red-lines” are.
- If you absolutely need a certain level of income to support your family then you can rule out everything below that;
- If you absolutely need to be able to drop your child at school in the morning then you can focus your attention on those employers who support flexible working hours;
- If you’re committed to learning new skills then you need to find a company who will truly support your drive for self-improvement.
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve with your job-move then you will be focusing on the things that are important to you, the things that are most likely to make you happier and less stressed. This is really important not just for your own well-being but also because there is a huge body of evidence that proves that happy people work more effectively, and so you are creating a virtuous circle for your next job.
And now it’s time to think about the next key step – your CV!
Richard Harris is Managing Director at Mohawk Consulting. Mohawk Consulting is a specialist recruitment company, working within the professional services market, particularly at the level of experienced hire/manager/director.