Thinking About Quitting Your Current Job?
I remember when I quit my first job. I had another in hand but things fell through very quickly. I was to join the pioneer team and set up a new division for the company. The offer was exciting and the job description was right up the alley of my professional goals. Unfortunately, a few days after I quit my job, my Plan B was no longer an option. Apparently management felt the action to create a new division was premature and more strategic measures needed to be made before embarking on such a radical venture. It was heartbreaking to say the least. I left a job where I had little complaints with the hopes of moving to something better only for my plans to be up in the air. It was as good as if I had left the previous job without another in hand. On the bright side, I had given the management enough notice before I sent in my resignation and was able to walk away and still be on good terms with the management.
Reflecting on this experience brought to my consciousness the fact that many people, for one reason or the other, want to quit their jobs in pursuit of some better opportunity. Let’s discuss a few scenarios where this is the case and then discuss the steps one should take when leaving a current job. There are so many scenarios but for the purpose of this article, I will limit them to three.
Sammy works as the Managing Director at a blue-chip company. At the end of every month he takes home a decent paycheck and gets to enjoy lots of benefits as additional perks from the job. But Sammy isn’t happy. He wants more. Two weeks ago he attended a reunion organized by his Old School Association and met a lot of his former school mates most of whom were managing directors just like him and a few were executive directors. There were a handful of CEOs who has founded their own company but Sammy wasn’t bothered about that category. He always knew he never had the gall and grit to start up a company of his own. He was more bothered by the managing directors and executive directors who appeared to be doing much better than himself.
Sammy has always been a highflier. Right from his university days he was always head and shoulder above his peers – both literally and figuratively (he is about six feet five inches). Immediately after graduation he was spoilt for choice between the offers he got from various multinational companies. Now fifteen years down the line, after all the hard work and experience, his life doesn’t seem to be better than his peers who weren’t half as smart or experienced as he was.
As he sits behind his desk, backing the breathtaking view of the city that’s visible through the glass walls, Sammy broods over the state of his life. “I deserve better” he murmurs beneath his breath… “I deserve better” he repeats to himself. His body sags into the swivel chair as the words sink in…. With the present state of the economy is now the best time to change jobs? Would it be wise to leave his present job without knowing what “better” exists out there assuming there was a “better”? These and many other thoughts raced through Sammy’s head.
Most people, like Sammy, prefer not to resign from a job without having an alternative lined up. Apart from the uncertainty of the options that exist and how soon an ideal offer might turn up, there’s a looming feeling of “if you made the right decision”. Some employers will say they prefer to hire people who are working because they believe that if someone was let go from a previous position, there must have been a reason for it. Companies generally don’t want to lose their best people, hence some employers assume that if you were let go, you must not have been that good.
Chika snoozed her alarm clock for the third time. It was 4:35am and she had barely gotten enough sleep after the four hours she spent in traffic trying to get home from work the previous day. She had a banging headache and was sure if she looked into the mirror her eyes would be red. She touched her neck with the back of her hand and felt a cold wave rush through her body as she shivered uncontrollably for some seconds. It was one of those mornings when she asked herself if she really needed the job. But she did. She held a major position in the company and could not afford to take a sick day. Remembering she had to be at the office before her meeting at 8:00 am, Chika jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. Fifty minutes later, she was set to embark on the usual two and a half hour journey to the office.
Jide grinned from ear to ear as the ovation got louder. The applause continued for another sixty seconds and Jide’s smile began to wane. He had aced yet another presentation – these victories were becoming mundane to him. Once again the CEO was going to be super proud of him. As he sat in the back seat of the car on his way home, Jide stared out of the window, wondering if there shouldn’t be more to his life than this. He remembered a quote he’d heard sometime ago “There are lives to touch, things to do, investments to make and places to go!”. Furrows grew on his brow as he thought pensively – maybe I should quit my job and move on to something else… I seem to have done it all at this stage… I need something new…something more exciting….
Different things can push a person to make a decision to resign from a job. Like Jide, the most common reason people give is “There was nothing new to learn” or “Not enough room to grow”. Some other reasons are:
Competition: Like Sammy, many people base their idea of career success on what their peers are doing and whether or not they have it better at their jobs.
Stress: Most people can relate to Chika’s experience where you work long hours Monday to Friday and sometimes Saturday too and have barely enough time to refresh and reset. Stress could also be related to the distance you have to travel everyday from home to work and vice versa. I know of a friend who quit his job after a week because everyday he spent long hours commuting in traffic. Apart from the boredom and frustration of spending long hours on the road at a stretch, it can have adverse results on one’s health.
Pay: Not earning enough on the job is another popular reason many people want to quit.
A few other probable reasons might include: lack of work-life balance, unable to pursue passions, employers didn’t care about employees or lack of recognition or reward.
As the old adage says, “He that wears the shoe knows where it pinches”. If things are so bad on the job that you want to quit, you should take the following into consideration:
1. Don’t be rash. No matter how bad things get, never walk out on your job. Carefully plan your exit strategy and stay the course till the time is ripe for you to leave.
2. Make a plan for how and when you are going to resign. Set a date and identify the people you need to talk to before you send in the letter.
3. Find good references for your work. You should get at least two and one of them should be from your current employer.
4. Write a short resignation letter.
5. Brace up. The day after you resign is the first day of the rest of your career.
The moment you send in your resignation letter, a lot of doubts and ‘what ifs’ creep into your head. What if I made the wrong decision? What if things get better at the company and I regret leaving? What if I overacted At some point, you might even consider going back to your previous employer asking to have your job back. But is that really such a good idea? Salesmen will recognize this reaction as “buyer’s remorse”. I’ll discuss some of the ways you can avoid falling into this particular negative mindset in my next article. You should look out for it.
Written by Genevieve Craig