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Thinking about changing careers? You are not alone. According to a Prudential survey conducted in 2021, a quarter of respondents indicated they would be looking for a new job this year. Many of the respondents indicated a flexible work schedule, specifically the ability to work from home, as a significant reason for them to do so. While that is one reason that might be a factor for you, there may be others to take into consideration. Let’s take a look at when it does and doesn’t make sense to leave your job.
When changing jobs/careers is a good option
- You dread getting up in the morning. Does the thought of getting out of bed to go to work leave you feeling anxious, stressed, or with a case of "the Mondays"? It may be a good time to start to think if this is the right job or even career for you. As many who have or have had this feeling know, it doesn't go away without making meaningful changes in your life.
- You lack interest in the role. Perhaps it has become "old hat" for you and you could do this job with your eyes closed. You’re feeling bored and no longer motivated to do more than the basics of the job. You're no longer passionate about it. It might be time to seek out a new opportunity — and new challenges — to get you out of your comfort zone.
- There are no career advancement opportunities. Advancing in one’s career is often an important motivational factor. Perhaps you want to be a manager but there is no path to do so at your current company. Or you have plateaued in your role and there are no paths to increasing your impact within the organization. Whatever your career goals, if you cannot see a clear path to getting to your dream job, this may no longer be the right fit for you.
- You’d like more compensation. Do some research here so you know what your peers in similar positions are making. Sites like Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter can help you identify what the average salary for any given job title might be. You may find that you are underpaid for the average or that you are at the top of the pay scale for your particular role. Either way, having this information will give you better insight into if more compensation is possible if you were to leave your current job.
- You no longer align with the company’s values. Perhaps there has been a restructure or a change in leadership and you find that you are no longer aligned with the company’s mission, purpose, or vision. To increase your own clarity on this, a great place to start is by looking at what you value. Identify 15-20 values that you hold personally or professionally. Narrow those down to the 4-5 core values that overlap both aspects of your life. This can help you look for gaps between your company’s values and your own. This will also help clarify what types of companies you would like to work for in the future.
- Your job is impacting you personally. Whether it is a lack of work-life balance, work stress coming home with you, or your relationships are affected, it may be time to consider a change. One way to notice if this is the case for you is to check in with your body. Are you not sleeping, having headaches, or gastrointestinal issues? All these can be signs that something is off and needs attention. A significant change in your work environment may be warranted.
Now that we have some ideas about when a career change may be a good idea for you, let’s take a look at when a bigger change might not be needed.
When changing jobs/careers isn’t a great option
- You haven’t been in the role for long. There is no exact right amount of time to stay at a job. But if your resume shows a new job every few months or every year, companies may not see you as a competitive candidate. This is in part because they may want someone whom they can invest years and resources in. They might assume that if you have a pattern of job-hopping, you will not stay put at their company for long either. That might make them hesitant about investing in you as a new hire.
- You’re feeling emotional. We all have bad days from time to time and may feel more emotional than normal about the job or a situation at work. But making a life-changing decision when you feel emotional may not be wise. A different part of our brain gets activated when we process emotions than when we are making logical decisions. If emotions are clouding your decision-making process, take a step away from the situation. This will give your brain a moment to calm down and think through what the right step is at this given time. It may be to change jobs, but it may not be. You will appreciate later giving yourself space to think through this decision.
- You have no plan. Sometimes quitting your job without a plan or new position to go to can work out. But there's some truth to the classic career advice, “It is easier to get a job when you have a job.” There is some truth to this. In part, this is due to companies seeing that another company has invested in you and in some ways is vouching for you. Potential employers may also want to know why you're currently unemployed — which can require tact when answering. Sometimes, staying put until you have a job offer in hand can be the best career move.
- You have no savings. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and do not have savings for unexpected costs. If you plan to quit your job but have nothing lined up next, you may end up more stressed than you were in your role. Finding a new job can take time, so being mindful of what you can afford to do is an important factor that shouldn't be overlooked. When looking at your finances, don't forget to plan for healthcare coverage, too.
If weighing the pros and cons of changing jobs has left you more determined to leave than ever, what should you do next? Below we’ll dive into steps to take to ensure you leave your role and company on a positive note while getting ready for a job change.
Communicating this with your employer
- Do it in person. Different generations have different preferences for communication. A Slack message or email might be good for some situations. But when you are relaying sensitive information, as is the case with putting in your notice, a face-to-face meeting is better.
- Decide on a timeline for your last day. While two weeks’ notice is the most common amount of time to transition out of a role, take into account any projects or deadlines that are coming up. You want to give as much time as possible for your employer to transition your role to someone else. Depending on your new job’s timing, you may be able to help a bit longer.
- Help with the transition. There is a good chance that you had tasks you are responsible for when you gave your notice. If possible, continue to work on those projects and offer to help transition them to other team members. This can go a long way in fostering goodwill with those still at the company.
- Offer constructive feedback. It is standard for companies to have an exit interview for those leaving the organization. Use this time to offer targeted, constructive feedback. They will often ask your reasons for leaving. Be honest but also tactful in your responses. You may help the next person in your role with your answers.
- Offer thanks and gratitude. The time you have spent in this role has impacted your and your colleagues’ lives. Honoring the time spent together will help everyone cope with your upcoming exit. Additionally, keep in mind that you may want to keep in contact with your colleagues for networking purposes. Those relationships may help when you're ready for the next opportunity in your career.
Prepare yourself for your new role
- Celebrate! You successfully navigated leaving one job for another opportunity. Celebrate this win with friends and family. Soak it in and enjoy the weight that is lifted from your shoulders when that job offer is finally in hand. This feeling will not last forever so give yourself permission to lean into any feelings you may be having.
- Build (or rebuild) healthy habits into your routine. This is a time to take advantage of looking at habits and re-investing in healthy lifestyle choices. It will mean different things for different people. By identifying what is important for your mental and physical well-being, you can plan ways to stay on target with them as you move forward. You essentially have an opportunity to reset your daily routines and focus on those that are important to you.
- Set yourself up for success. As a new role can be anxiety-provoking, develop questions you can ask your colleagues about when you start. Try asking them about good places for lunch near the office, their experiences with managers, or even their insights about the company. Having questions ready to go in your mind can help avoid awkward moments in the office.
- Dial in on your personal brand. This is a great time to think about what your personal brand is and what you want it to be. To do this, reflect on what your current personal brand is. Next, identify what your ideal brand is. What are the gaps between how you are currently seen and how you want to be viewed by others? Finally, focus on how to impact or change those aspects that do not reflect how you would like to be viewed moving forward. Keep in mind that it's often the subtleties that matter. These include how we interact with others, our clothes, our online presence, or nonverbal communication.
The first few weeks
- Pace yourself. Starting a new job can be overwhelming. While the desire to prove yourself in the new role can feel like pressure, remember that no one is expecting you to know everything right off the bat. You will inevitably make mistakes and have to master some new skills to do your job well, no matter how much you prepare for the role. Give yourself permission to learn and grow without the pressure to be perfect.
- Lay a foundation. Gather information about the role, your colleagues, and the new company as a whole. The more of this information you take in now, the better position you will be to do your job effectively later. Schedule one-on-ones with your new colleagues to understand their roles in the organization. Go through old documents or information left by the previous person at your job or given to you by those on the team. Be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as possible.
- Establish clear expectations with your manager. As you gather information, be sure to check in with your boss about their expectations. Are there items they want you up to speed on faster than other things? Are there timelines you need to be aware of?
When is the timing of employee reviews? How do they like to be communicated with? Are there stakeholders they want you to pay close attention to? There is an endless number of questions you can ask of your new boss that can be impactful and help set you up for success in the role.
- Practice self-compassion. There will most likely be times of self-doubt, feelings of overwhelm and anxiety as you get up to speed in this new role. There is an easy tool you can use to help you access your self-compassion. Simply treat yourself like a friend. For example, if a friend came to you and told you of the struggles you were currently having, what would you say to them? Chances are you would offer support and kindness rather than judgment and shame. Aim to treat yourself the same way.
Take the time to get clear on why you want to leave your job, as well as what you’d like to do. You can set yourself up for success on a path that more aligns with your values and ideal career path.