Many people feel lukewarm about their jobs at some point during their careers. It's the red flags you have to watch out for -- major signs that it's time to leave your .
People hate to resign without another job lined up. Not just because employers prefer to hire people who are working, but also because it feels like failure. It seems as if you “couldn’t take it.” But there are times when it is very important to just let go.
Here’s a personal example: My boyfriend had never water skied in his life. My father challenged him to try in the ocean off Cape Cod. My boy friend sat in the water, skis in front of him as my father gunned the engine of his ridiculously underpowered fishing boat. My boyfriend’s feet went out from under him. He was smiling and holding onto the handle, but his feet were out behind him and his head was under water. I jumped up and down screaming, “Let go! Let go!” If he hadn’t let go, my boyfriend might have drowned, and we would never have gotten married and lived happily ever after.
It can be true of jobs, too. If you don’t let go, you can easily destroy your career. There are two times when you should consider resigning even if you don’t have another job line up:
Before you quit, however, you need to put together a plan that includes when and how you are going to resign, whom you are going to use as references, and, most importantly, what you are going to say about why you are resigning. Here are a couple of examples:
Beth (not her real name) started a company with two business school friends. When she learned a few years later that her partners might be cheating their clients, she realized it was time to extricate herself from the firm, even though she would probably lose not just her job but also her investment in the company. Staying with the company was not an option when something even more valuable was at stake — her reputation.
She put a good plan in place. She hired an attorney to help her understand her obligations, set a date to resign, wrote a resignation letter which included a careful reason for resigning. It said, “It has been very exciting working with you both in this startup. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. But now I know more about myself. I just can’t be comfortable with the lack of structure and organization…”
Beth then secured her references: a past employer, a current client, and a current colleague, all of whom would substantiate her reason for leaving. She didn’t share her suspicions about her partners with any of her references because her suspicions had not been proven. She got out with her reputation intact and found another job within four months.
Paul (not his real name) was a hard-working VP in a company that underwent a difficult merger. He has three children, one of whom is a special needs child. Before the merger he was considered a star, but after the merger he just couldn’t seem to do anything to please the new management. He noticed that one by one his colleagues from before the merger were let go or forced out. He was determined to survive — for his family’s sake.
But the job took a toll on Paul. He gained thirty pounds. He felt sick every morning going to work. He was so anxious that his family and friends were concerned. When his doctor weighed in, too, Paul knew he had to leave — job or no job. He was carefully watched, and he was working too many hours to look for a new job. He was so stressed, he wouldn’t do well in interviews.
Paul put together his plan. He collected his references, mostly from management before the merger. He set a date to resign and prepared a resignation letter that said nothing about his health but thanked his bosses for keeping him on through the merger, complimented them on all that he had learned from them, but said he wanted to redirect his career more towards sales and marketing.
Paul never said, “You made me sick, literally!” He knew someone might want to contact his new bosses for a reference, and he wanted at least a neutral one from them. His plan worked. His references from before the merger helped him find a new job.
So what are the takeaways from Beth and Paul’s successful transitions? If you choose to quit your job without another one lined up, follow these steps:
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Follow these steps if you choose to quit your job without another one lined up. Use these tips to plan ahead and take a wise decision without.
Quitting your job is always a scary thing. But it can be downright terrifying when you don’t have another one lined up. The nerves build up to the surface from the moment you hand in your resignation notice. “Where are you going?” is typically the first question your boss and coworkers will ask. Saying you’re not sure will undoubtedly lead to quizzical glances and perhaps even snickers of “you’re crazy.” But here are seven times when quitting with no backup plan is the right thing to do for your career.
If your work environment is so toxic that you aren’t able to see your own strengths and values clearly, getting some distance may be the only way to regain your faith in yourself. “Sometimes you need time to detox and heal from abusive situations so that you don’t jump into something just as bad to get away from your current job,” says Rhonda Ansted, career coach and Founder of Be the Change Career Consulting.
Ansted speaks from experience. She quit her job and traveled cross-country before looking for the next opportunity. “It allowed me to take stock of what was important to me and do some intensive thinking about what I needed out of my life and my career,” says Ansted. That distance from work led her to going back to school, joining the Peace Corps, and eventually starting her own business.
Related: How to quit your job gracefully
If you’re thinking about leaving your job, start to set aside enough money to tide you over until you find your next opportunity. Work out how long you think it will take you to find your next gig, then calculate how much you’ll need in the bank to stay out of poverty. Leaving your job without any savings in the bank is likely to lead to you feeling forced to take any job out of financial necessity.
The job search process is very time consuming. Looking for a new job while employed means you can never truly give your all to your search, and you may not have the time to explore all of the opportunities available, never mind booking time off to go to interviews. You may also want to reach out to connections in your industry to find out about new opportunities, but fear reaching out in case news of your job search gets back to your current employer.
Erin First, principal at Brick Lane, a boutique PR agency, started applying for jobs and doing interviews while still employed, but felt that dividing her energy between both tasks wasn’t working out. “It didn’t feel fair to the company I was working for, and it would have limited the time I was able to spend charting my next move,” says First, who quit her job without having another one lined up, freeing up her time to do a thorough job search.
Quitting without a backup plan is not for everyone. “For some people, the fear of the unknown is too difficult to navigate and paralyzing,” says Ansted. “While there are some people who crave novelty and get bored easily in the same-old same-old, much of our hard-wiring is about keeping us safe.”
Related: This is what it took for me to quit a job I hated
Quitting your job without a backup plan has the same effect on your nervous system as walking into the desert without any water. When you’re unhappy in your job, however, that stress can lead to many worse things than anxiety. Stress can cause sleep deprivation, a heart attack, depression, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses. Assess the toll your unhappiness in your current job is having on your health. If the stress is greater than your anxiety about quitting, jumping ship may be the only way to save your mental and physical health.
This doesn’t mean you have a trust fund. It means having a group of friends or a career coach who can help you see things clearly when you’re on the other side. Your support system is made up of individuals who know your strengths and can help you find your way after you leave.
Quitting your job with no plan in place allows you to be open to new opportunities that you may never have considered if you simply took the next opportunity that fell in your lap. When First quit her job, she didn’t plan on becoming a business owner, but after reaching out to a friend for some freelance work, First then found herself the co-owner and partner of a boutique PR agency. “It’s been the most challenging and rewarding work experience of my career,” she says.
Related: How to know whether you should quit your job without a plan
Even when you know you’re in the wrong job, the security of having a steady paycheck makes easing off your job search easy to do. When you suddenly find yourself void of that secure income, it can give you the adrenaline rush you need to propel your job search forward.
Jumping ship without a life vest is not an easy decision, but when done for the above reasons, it may be the best way to propel your career forward in the right direction.
After spending nearly five years consulting for Doe Development Company, I will be moving on to a new assignment. Effective (date), I will begin my new assignment working for City Insurance in the Phoenix Regional Office.
The past five years have been very exciting. During that time, I have greatly appreciated your support. I believe City Insurance has a few products that will be of interest to you. Once I have settled in, I will contact you to review your group health insurance needs.
Starting Monday, (date), I can be reached at 555-5555. Let's keep in touch.
I am sorry to inform you that circumstances dictate I must resign from my position as Division Manager. I prefer to leave at the end of this week, if that is convenient. If not, I will gladly comply with the company's request to give two weeks termination notice.
Each year my financial obligations have increased; unfortunately, my salary here has not been able to keep up with these demands. As a result, I have been forced to reconsider my employment here and have concluded that it would be best for me to seek employment with a company better equipped to meet my financial requirements. Despite this, it is with mixed emotions that I have accepted a position elsewhere that carries a higher salary with possibilities for future advancement,
Please accept my thanks for the opportunity to work with you. The guidance you have given me has proved invaluable and has prepared me well for my new position. I have enjoyed the challenges presented here at Doe's, and I sincerely hope that I have returned adequate service for all the benefits that I have received.
I would be happy to help you find and train a suitable replacement. Because my projects are current and because I have left detailed instructions illustrating how to perform my job duties on my desk, my successor should have little difficulty assuming my responsibilities. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help make this a smooth transition.
Please accept my regrets in resigning from my position as Stockroom Manager, effective two weeks from today's date. Eager to pursue new challenges, I have decided to accept a job offer in a field more closely aligned with my course of study. My new position will put my talents and interests to work in a new and exciting area.
Although I have accepted a position in another field, it does not detract from the fact that my job at Doe's has provided me pleasure as well as insight into my hopes for the future. I have enjoyed working with all of my friends here, and I want to thank everyone for their support over the years.
When my resignation date arrives, I expect all my projects to be current and my obligations fulfilled. If there is anything else I can do to help make this a smooth transition, please let me know.
Please accept this letter as official notification of my resignation from my position as Floor Manager, effective immediately. Financial considerations and a desire to further my career compel me to accept a job offer from a company that is better able to fill my present needs.
Although I am disappointed that size constraints placed upon the company deny rapid upward mobility, I feel deeply indebted to you for skills I have acquired and experience I have gained. My job here has been a great source of personal satisfaction and a foundation from which I have cultivated many irreplaceable ties with co-workers.
To ensure that the transition goes smoothly and to enable my successor to proceed without undue interruption, I will prepare project status reports and explain all procedures necessary to complete each assignment successfully.
My last day of being a manager at Doe will be two weeks from Friday, as I am resigning to accept another position. I have been offered a human resource position and I am anxious to make a career change. I will, however, be happy to answer any questions or concerns the new manager may have, regardless of where I am employed.
Thank you for all you have done for me. I appreciate the opportunities and friendships I have enjoyed here.
Regretfully, I must inform you that I need to resign from my position here as office manager. In accordance with company policy, I am offering two weeks notice, effective today. Please know that I am grateful for the trust and confidence that you have placed in me in the last three years. I especially appreciated the opportunity to convert the paper files in the order department to a computerized system. I believe that similar conversions in other departments, though time-consuming in the beginning, would greatly benefit the company in the long run.
I have been offered a position as Technology Specialist in a larger company and I feel I must accept. Although the higher salary was one factor in my decision, I will also have a greater opportunity to use my degree in computer science. Of course, I will be happy to help train a replacement while I am here. The new manager is also free to call me at home or email me with any questions after I leave. All of my files have been backed up on CD-R and are labeled appropriately. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help make this transition as trouble-free as possible.
Many people feel lukewarm about their jobs at some point during their careers. It's the red flags you have to watch out for -- major signs that it's time to leave your .
by Roxanna Coldiron
Imagine this scenario. On Monday, the department supervisor discovers that an employee has been looking for another job. Perhaps the employee left evidence of their job search on their desk or had not been discreet about their job searching activities on LinkedIn. Um….Yeah… Not talking about it with the employee can strain the current relationship but approaching it in the wrong way could escalate the departure and reflect badly on the supervisor and the company.
Employers can sometimes be blindsided when they learn that their employees have been looking for other jobs outside of the company; however, as high as 51 percent of employed individuals will be actively job searching, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace (2017) report. Employees might start looking for new jobs because they want to use their strengths, increase their income or change careers. Another reason could be overall lack of job satisfaction.
If key employees are leaving the company, employers should be asking what is driving them away. The employer may need to go to the employer and find out directly from them why they are leaving, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
“If a manager can approach the employee without betraying confidences, it is acceptable to approach the employee about it,” says Jim Strain, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, an HR director for DKS Associates in Portland, Ore. “I would suggest it be done in a non-confrontational way. The desired outcome is to learn what has prompted the employee’s decision so that the manager can improve the situation and either head-off the resignation or avoid more turnover from other team members.”
Valerie P. Keels, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Head of DC Office Services for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance in Washington, D.C. advises conducting a “stay interview” to learn more about why the employee has been considering other employment.
“Hopefully the manager has a good enough relationship with the team member to be able to speak openly and honestly about their career aspirations,” Keels says. “That’s the purpose of ‘performance management’ — a continuous and open dialogue on how the team member would like to traverse their career and how the employer can help them get there.”
What managers should NOT do when talking with the employee is make promises to get them to stay that the company will not be able to deliver. According to Keels, this can come across as disingenuous to the employee because “the employee may feel that they have been taken advantage of during their tenure and are only now valued because another company is making a better offer.”
Managers should also avoid laying guilt or casting blame or shame on employees who have been job searching. Mel Hennigan, VP, People, at the Symplicity Corporation, suggests that managers be cognizant of their body language to avoid intimidation and that bullying an employee to get them to stay is a major faux pas.
“Regardless of whether the employee continues to work or terminates, the company is generally going to want to have the best employee relations possible for that circumstance,” Hennigan says. “To facilitate that outcome, the manager should lay aside personal feelings or differences and work to achieve reasonable relations through constructive dialog.”
As much as a company might want to convince an employee to stay, in most cases human resources professionals advise against it. Employees might be looking for positions that the company does not offer, a higher salary or merely a change of scenery. Listening to employee concerns about their job and the atmosphere in which they work can also determine if perhaps the company could improve employment and convince the employee to stay — but if they have already decided to leave, then it is best to wish them well and let them go.
“It should not take an employee telling you they are leaving for greener pastures for you to realize you have talent looking at other companies to make their careers with,” says Lisa-Marie Gustafson, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, HR manager, core and engineering products at Hexcel in Burlington, Wash.
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