It is half-past you-should-have-left-the-office-hours-ago — and your frustration level is near a boiling point. Maybe it isn’t the extra hours of work (that ahem, you don’t get paid overtime for), but an overbearing, passive-aggressive boss that doesn’t appreciate you. Or the company culture doesn’t match your personality or your working style. Perhaps it is simply that you’ve been at the same company for so many years, you feel lost in the trenches, feigning interest and finding yourself desperately bored.
The desire to give a two-week notice on a whim, hand over that pink slip or storm out of the office in an impressive, dramatic fit is tempting for nearly every professional at some point in their trajectory. Even if that grand exit seems more and more appealing these days, career experts suggest reigning in those impulses — and answering a few questions first.
As career expert Joy Altimare explains, a questionable economy paired with unstable employee morale, treading lightly will protect your career and future success.
Rattle through these inquiries — and if you’re in the affirmative? Let us know when you’re going away drinks are and we’ll RSVP:
Have I tried to make everything work?
Considering in your lifetime you’ll spend far more time with your cubicle mates than you will your significant other, you can sometimes apply the same mentality toward quitting as you do to a breakup. As Altimare recommends, you should try to make your gig work before you throw in the towel. From having a clear and articulate conversation with your direct manager to coming up with solutions that could improve your state of mind and outlook, taking proactive measures illustrates your commitment to your job. After you’ve aired your grievances, give it a few months to sink in before you decide next steps — into or out of the front door.
If after that period you’re still disenchanted? Altimare reminds professionals it is important to make a graceful exit, with impeccable timing. “Are you in the midst of the busiest season or working on a big project? It may be worthwhile to honor your commitments so that your team isn’t left in a bind and you’re able to leave on good term,” she adds.
Is the grass greener?
You can take this in two directions: emotional and quite practical. As career coach Cheryl Palmer notes, it is vital to prioritize your emotional state of happiness, but also helps to lay out a pro-and-con list that details what your life would actually look like, sans-current-LinkedIn-title.
“Look at how bad the situation is: if it is damaging your health, that could trump any other consideration. But if that is not the case, then look at other factors that could influence your decision. Sometimes it makes sense to stay where you are for awhile if that is your best option,” Palmer continues. “It’s worthwhile to take a hard look at your employment prospects. Is your skill set marketable so that you could land another comparable position in a relatively short period of time? If not, you could be worse off if you quit before increasing the marketability of your skills.”
On the other hand, if you feel prepared and confident to make a leap, and a sudden change, it might be time to push off the harbor and set sail.
Is it them or is it you?
Here’s another time when relationship self-help books might be targeted to professional growth: are you dissatisfied at work because your employer or company is less than stellar … or are you to blame? Being self-critical is a difficult skill for nearly everyone, at every career level, but in terms of bidding adieu to a job, it is critical. Executive coach and author, Marion E. Brooks challenges employees to dig deep — and be honest — about what is actually happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“A lot of people think it’s the organization or their boss when it’s really them, because they lack emotional intelligence, they don’t have the right brand, connections, or they’re not putting in the effort that’s required for the next level,” he explains.
Before you quit, Brooks says to answer this question: What in your current situation has happened that has convinced you that you’ve hit an insurmountable obstacle? If the answer lies in your own actions, a new opportunity might not shake things up enough. But if it is your company — you know it is time to go.
What do you like about the new job?
Tempted by the title of another? Or, ahem, the paycheck? More recognition, higher status and extra zeros on that paycheck are what push most people to leave their current roles, but Brooks recommends a soul-searching session before jet-setting. How come? As you mature in your career, it becomes more and more important to identify what actually matters to you in the workplace.
That’s why being clear on what your values are for the new opportunity — from every angle, not just the apparent ones. “You really have to be clear on what your values are for any new opportunity or job. Most people focus on one element versus looking at the situation holistically,” he explains.
And remember — if those dollar signs are what is lighting up your eyes? That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be happier. “You definitely need to look at it from a financial perspective, and whether you can sustain your current lifestyle — but money shouldn’t be the only reason,” Brooks adds.
Can I afford this?
For some wanderlust professionals who aspire to travel the world — or savor the freedom of being their own boss, a job offer isn’t required for them to pack it up and go. If you’re making the leap to freelance full-time, or branching out to start up your own gig, career expert Christopher Kingman suggests crunching your numbers, since leaving a job without a financial plan is extremely risky.
In addition to your monthly expenses — rent, car payment, you name it — you also need to consider an emergency fund to cover everything from flat tires to hospital visits. To put yourself in the best possible position, aim to save at least six months worth of expenses — and get to hustling from the second you leave.
Why am I quitting?
Apart from all of the practical and straightforward questions, Kingman also adds in one that may take you time to answer: why are you quitting? Even if you can rattle off a laundry list of complaints after a particularly stressful day, it is important to actually consider the core of why you want to skedaddle. “Things like priority changes or hitting the top of your potential are valid reasons; you want to find out the underlying issues you are quitting for so you can be sure quitting is the only way to fix it,” he explains.
Which is where the final question becomes important: will quitting solve the problem?
If I quit, is my problem/concern solved?
Kingman says once you’ve collected your talking points and you’re prepared to present your case (whether to yourself in the mirror for a pep talk, or your actual manager) — make sure that saying sayonara to your job will actually have the impact you’re hoping for. He says if you can’t be certain you’ll feel different — or you simply don’t know — you might consider waiting.
“The decision to leave a job is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The questions you ask yourself are to ensure your current situation can’t be improved and that quitting your job will only lead to greater opportunities,” he adds.