In this article, Keeley Fitzsimmons, the Principal Consultant at Broadgate Search, outlines the aspects of various issues involved in leaving a job.
Do you have to leave?
First thing’s first, is there another way to solve the challenge that caused you to start looking for a new role in the first place?
This is a question that, from a good recruiter’s perspective, should always be asked on the first call to a potential candidate. Why? Well, it will save you both a heck of a lot of a time if you establish this at the start of the process rather than at the end!
It is a crucial question you need to ask yourself. Why do you want to leave?
Those of us in recruitment (the good ones, anyway) will always recommend talking to your employers about your difficulties first. Although it may not feel like it at the time, mostly it is possible to overcome whatever is causing you to think about a move.
Let’s look at some typical scenarios.
Work/life balance: You’ve taken on someone else’s work in the team and are completely overloaded, leaving the office at 10pm most nights. On top of that, you’ve been asked to produce that extra report by Thursday (and today is Tuesday!). Possible solution: Make your manager aware that you cannot produce that report by Thursday. Make him/her aware that you need extra resources or the work load needs to be spread between others in the team.
Time pressure: Your new recruit in the team is taking up a lot of your time as they require training and/or guidance. Possible solution: Ask your manager for help – can the new recruit shadow different people across the department over the next couple of weeks to free up your time (then maybe you can get that extra report done after all!).
Personnel/management style issues: You have a new manager. You can’t get used to their logic or their management style. Possible solution: It’s a tough conversation, but if you don’t have it sooner rather than later and discuss the issues with your manager, it will leave more than one party unhappy. If you communicate your worries, perhaps they can be resolved.
Career ceiling: Perhaps there just isn’t the scope for you to progress any further in your current role; you’ve hit your ceiling. As a recruiter, I have experienced this particular scenario on countless occasions. Possible solution: Show your ambition to your manager by voicing it. Either they will buck their ideas up because they don’t want to lose you, or they will support you in your desire to move on in your career. You may be surprised to learn that both reactions by management are equally as common nowadays.
Money issues: Yes, the money. This is a subject that most of you find awkward to bring up with your manager. Instead, you start looking for a new job and get to the point of handing in your notice and then are told that your boss had been so impressed with your work over the last year that he/she was about to give you that all-important pay rise. Possible solutions: Raise the ugly issue of money with your manager before embarking on a job search. You may be pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, you may not be. Either way, you know the facts. Counter offers by employers at the point of a job offer are the bane of recruiters’ lives. So ask the question before you decide to look for a move. If, on the other hand, you want to benchmark the salary you believe you should be getting, don’t feel bad about that because you are not alone. In fact it is very common. But, let us the recruiters know, and we can conduct that benchmarking exercise for you. Both solutions help to clear your head before you decide to make a move to leave a job.
Bad reasons for leaving
Over the past five years, I have learned that it is vital to make sure you determine – with clarity - why someone is looking for a new role. Although we have looked at common scenarios, there are of course some obviously bad reasons for considering leaving your job.
Here are some of the most obvious.
Don’t quit because you’re having a bad day and you feel like throwing the baby out with the bath water, as they say. Bad days happen. It depends just how resilient you are at coping and overcoming the issues. Moving jobs should not be your first reaction to a bad day.
Poor time management skills: Ask yourself why you are feeling overworked – it isn’t necessary the scenario outlined in the previous section. Heaven forbid, it could be your own time management skills! Do you really have too much work? Time management is my favourite issue currently, ask my team! But it’s a topic I’ll save for another time (get it?). Learn when to say no. Try being more selfish with your time and see if this helps your time management issues.
Issues with colleagues: Someone pushing your buttons? Sometimes it’s just the constant sound of someone’s voice that you can’t. Take. Any. Longer. Don’t sacrifice your own career, for goodness sake. Take a breath. Stay professional. Try meditation in the evenings (from personal experience this works a charm!). If you still feel that you can’t hack it, a talk with your line manager or HR might produce a plan of action. Don’t move jobs to avoid a colleague – think what you might be facing in the next office!
And then there’s the commute. How could I forget this one! I hear this one a lot. For example, re travel times, each to their own, but two and a half hours EACH way every day is not something I could have committed to in the first place. Yes, that’s a real life example! You think it will be fine, but it’s not. The novelty of the job starts to wear off and you are tired all the time. It’s affecting your work. Okay, fair enough. But it’s a bad idea to want to leave because you hate queuing for the Waterloo and City line, for example. Not really a good reason to quit! Possible solution: Before deciding that it’s time to leave a role that you love, speak to your manager about perhaps doing a day from home, or Flexitime. And, by the way, a little bit of insider information....you can avoid the rush hour on the Waterloo and City line by starting for work early. Yep! You heard it. No queue on the Waterloo and City line!
The key here to all of this is communication. Don’t suffer in silence! Voice your difficulties and try to overcome them before thinking you need a new job.
Sign it is time for you to look elsewhere
Contrary to what you might think from what I have described so far, there is a key sign, if you have exhausted all the options explored above, that I think is a pretty clear indication that you need to move on.
It comes down to a lack of passion. Perhaps, you don’t believe in the company anymore; perhaps you don’t believe in your role within the company any more; your work performance suffers. It’s a downward spiral; you wake up miserable with that well known “dread” feeling; your misery escalates at work; you clock watch; you start to feel ill, for no obvious reason. The stress affects your physical and mental health. The negativity spreads to every aspect of your life and you can’t snap yourself out of it. From those symptoms, the diagnosis seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how long people feel like this before they actually do anything about it. My advice is notice the signs early, take them seriously, and, if you can’t resolve them, motivate yourself to find a new role!
How to quit your job
So, you have made the move. You have a new job. That’s good but...Don’t. Burn. Bridges! Handle your resignation as carefully as you would any other aspect of your work life.
Above all, if you get on well with your manager then you will want to stay in touch, not to mention the question of a sterling reference!
Make sure you write a resignation letter. This should be kept short, simple and positive. No-one wants to read a short novel, written at a time of possible panic.
Given that you are writing essentially another business letter, make sure you follow the correct format. State your name, address, today’s date as well as including a header with the employer’s name and address.
You should include:
The fact that you are leaving
“I am writing to inform you of my resignation from my position at X.”
The reason why you are leaving
“I was recently offered a new opportunity in ....... that is going to provide me with a new challenge, and I have decided to take their offer.”
The date when your resignation is effective
“My last day of employment with X will be Y.”
Thank you to your employer
“I have really enjoyed my time working with you at X. I have learnt a lot and the skills that I have gained are going to allow me to continue progressing with my career. I can’t thank you enough for all the opportunities that have been provided during my time with the company. I appreciate your support.”
You get the idea.
I’d always advise resigning in person, but always take the resignation letter with you so you can follow up your words with something tangible. Above all, remember to proof read it!
Leaving your job, moving to a new role, to a new company needs careful consideration. Do not rush into it just because you think you are fed up. Make sure that you explore every avenue as an alternative before deciding to leave. Some issues are easily resolved, some not so easy. Be sure to think long and hard about your reasons for leaving your job, weigh up the pros and cons, know why you want to leave. Make sure you leave on good relations with your current employer, if at all achievable.
Finally, when you have made the decision – stick with it!