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What to consider before you quit.

Lately, I've been thinking about quitting! I have a friend who use to threaten to quit at least once a month, possibly more often than that (she’s still in the same job 20 years later!). But it got me thinking recently about the temptation to quit. How satisfying would it be to tell a toxic boss where to shove the job?! (Remember Bridget Jones quitting her publishing job?!)

Satisfying as it might be, it may not be the most prudent form of action.

Here’s some things to consider if you think you’d like to quit, or if you’re in danger of coming to the end of your tether.

1. Identify the problem that’s making you feel this way. Is it something temporary that might pass, like a stressful project, or year end? Once that peak in stress/busyness is over, are things likely to go back to a more even keel. Is this a one-off incident, or does it happen every time there’s a new project or the year end looms? Is this something you can tolerate on an ongoing basis? Or is it something more basic than this? Is it the culture of the organisation? Has it come to be accepted as “the way”? Imagine that the situation was ongoing for the next 6 to 12 months. Is that tolerable, or does it have you running for the door? Does what your job gives you back make up for this? (e.g. money, career prospects, convenience, challenge etc.)

2. Can you fix it? Identifying what it is that’s bothering you may also give you an opportunity to try to change things for the better (even if it is temporarily until you get a new job). Is there something that you can do now that will make things better for you? This could be something like negotiating part-time hours, or a work-from-home arrangement, changing your environment (moving desks or location), or asking to take on a new element of your role, or ditching a particular task. If that was fixed, how would that change things for you? If the problem is working with a particular person, is it worth quitting over that person, or can you figure out a way to work with them? Remember also that they might not always be there!

3. It’s easier to get a job from a job. I’m sure you have heard this said (read this for more) There are a number of reasons for this and without getting in to the “so what if I have a career gap” discussion, if you quit without anything lined up, it may take much longer than you think to secure a new role and the gap question may arise. You may also have to explain at interview why you left your last role, and it is never a good idea to criticise a former employer.

4. Being readily available may not be such a huge advantage. What you do have in your favour if you do quit is that you’re readily available to take up new employment, whereas someone who is currently employed will have to give notice. However, most recruiters/hiring managers will have built that into their time frames anyway (and if someone is desperate for you to start a job straightaway, maybe that is a little red flag!)

5. Take your needs into account. Financially speaking, what do you need to survive? This is a need, not wants exercise. If you were to leave your job voluntarily, you may not qualify for state support, and even that it is limited in time (in Ireland anyway), so calculate what you need to pay the basics? How would you manage if you quit? Start to plan for this if you can and start to put away a nest-egg, your “running away money” if the worst came to the worst. I’ve seen recommendations that you have 6 months nett wages saved. Not a minor task by any means, but it will give you some cushion of support. Also practically speaking, think about things like your commute or your work-life balance? What does a job need to give you? Does your current job satisfy all or any of those needs? Would a new job? Or might it be further away, less flexible, lower pay etc? Bear in mind if you are looking for flexibility, you may have to “do your time” in a new role before requesting flexi-time, job-share or work-from-home etc.

6. Start to plan now. I posted previously about career resilience. Same goes for planning an escape! Put the basics in place now. Brush off your CV, start researching job openings and opportunities, talk to recruitment agents, keep up to date in your industry (or any industry you’re interested in), think about any skills or qualifications gaps you might have and work on filling them. And probably the most important thing of all; develop your network. Start putting out feelers, talk to people, indicate that you might be looking to make a move. Granted this can be sensitive subject and you might not want word getting back to your current employer, but at the end of the day, they don’t own you, and knowing you are job-seeking might make them easier to negotiate with!

7. Get support. Family and friends can help but will have their own set of values that they will measure your options on, so just be careful of this. Enlisting with a career coach or getting a mentor will help you articulate your thoughts, sort out what you actually want and help you put a plan in place to get there, all without judgment and in a supportive and objective way.

You can book a complimentary call here to chat in confidence.

If you really feel that things are intolerable for you then please consider getting professional help, be that medical, legal, counselling or financial. You don’t need to suffer alone and there is help out there for you. Depending on your employer, you may have an Employee Assistance Scheme that you can avail of.


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