There are several reasons to leave your job: it is no longer satisfying, you have a deteriorating relationship with your manager and/or co-workers, or your personal situation has changed. But workplace fatigue isn’t always a sign to move on.
“Contrary to the commonly held viewpoints, salary or negative feelings about your boss are not good reasons to move on,” says Dr. Anita Davis-DeFoe, leadership expert and professional consultant. “Few jobs will pay you what you want or what you are worth. So in 2012, jobs should be viewed as opportunities to make money that support your lifestyle as well as provide seed money for some type of micro-business.” According to Davis-DeFoe, it is always a good idea to have extra income. “Everyone should have at least four streams of income,” Davis-DeFoe advises. “Everyone is an entrepreneur even though they may not realize it. We sell our skills and time every day, so shift your mindset and while planning your next career move, work to identify the other benefits of the job (new knowledge, training, certifications, maybe even travel) because the more skills you have, the more marketable you are.” Other streams of income could also be generated through wise investments.
When It is Time to Move
In the current economic climate with thin employment opportunities, you should be sure of the motives leading you to desire a job change.
Here are the top three signs that it’s time for a job change:
• Help, My Job is Making Me Sick: “It’s time to move on when you have personal health and wellness concerns,” says Davis-DeFoe. “When a job is making you physically ill or emotionally drained this is a signal that your work life needs to be reevaluated and you need to craft a plan. Being disrespected and bad behavior displayed by team members of the boss are red flags.”
• Messy Workplaces: "Are you surrounded by organizational politics and dysfunctional culture?” asks Davis-DeFoe. “When the culture and climate do not support your ability to perform at high levels of productivity; do not mesh with your personal values, you do not feel valued, or leadership does not appear to have a solution that can get the organization back on course and shift productivity upward, don’t wait until the organization collapses. Start to strategize your next moves before you end up laid off anyway. Cuts in benefits and salaries, negative press and hiring delays are signals that the organization is unstable and its financial footing is shaky.”
• Feeling unappreciated? “Are you being underutilized? When opportunities are few, you are passed over for promotions, or if you are honest with yourself and know that your vocational passions lie elsewhere in another field, create a transition plan for yourself and then work it,” offers Davis-DeFoe. “These types of frustrations tend to impact performance which can, in some cases, lead to dismissal. You always want to leave a job on your own terms - not escorted out of the building. If you cannot afford to leave, consider ‘solopreneur’ opportunities that will allow you to use your skills and make extra cash. So often over time, these ventures mushroom into enabling the individual to leave and work and work full time in the business they have grown while working the job.”
Depending on the job environment, you could feel compelled to express your concerns with your superior. But, says Davis-DeFoe, this is a tricky road. “If you have gauged the emotional intelligence and leadership strengths of your boss, and he or she is a leader who understands that organizational effectiveness is linked to having the right people on the bus in the right seats, then discuss your concerns,” she says. “Let him or her know you need more of a challenge, more opportunity, or perhaps you are interested in transferring to another department. If the organization has no systems for mentoring staff and supporting their career progression, it is best to spend your energy devising a plan that leads to other opportunities and the achievement of your personal career goals. Sometimes when there is an emotional intelligence void, after such discussions, the boss makes things even more difficult for the employee.”
What if your boss caves in to your demands, giving you the things that you complain are currently missing on the job, should you change your mind and stay? It depends, says Davis-DeFoe. “Money alone does not truly motivate people to perform or to stay at a job even if the thought of more money is appealing and needed. Staying when your heart and spirit say move on merely sets you up to miss out on greater opportunities that await you and when the satisfaction derived from the monetary increase wears off, the individual finds themselves back at the same unhappy place,” she notes. ”If the culture and climate are not a fit for you, it is best to leave. A tremendous aspect of workplace contentment is feeling committed to the organizational mission, having a sense of purpose and feeling appreciated as a team member, and using one’s gifts and talents in a challenging manner.”
Okay, you have come to the conclusion it is time to leave your job, what are the next steps you should take? Don’t rush and hand in your resignation letter, warns Davis-DeFoe. If possible, carefully plan your exit.
• Dust off that resume. “Once you determine that there is a mismatch between you and the organization, dust off your resume and make sure it is a result-focused resume, not just a list of job duties and responsibilities. Those resumes, these days, end up in the trash,” Davis-DeFoe says.
• Spread the word. “Let colleagues and friends know you are looking and attend networking events in the field in which you are looking for opportunities,” says Davis-DeFoe.
• Stick to your plan. “It is difficult to predict how long it will take you to find your next job. Certainly you want to be strategic. You want to find and land a new opportunity before leaving the current job. The average job search can take 3-6 months, so be prepared and do not get discouraged,” Davis-DeFoe points out. “This can be longer depending upon the industry and the local economy where you live. In the end, it is always better to be looking for a job when you already have one and this is from a personal and professional standpoint. Unemployment breeds stress and this can translate in people not interviewing as well as they should; professionally, your ‘value capital’ increases because you are already currently using your talent at another organization.”
• Be organized. “Conduct your job search on your own time but make a daily to-do list relative to the job search and use this as your guide. Use a variety of search boards, professional associations and industry job lists,” says Davis-DeFoe.
It is always best to leave a job on a good note. Don’t start complaining and slacking off on work. Take various steps to exit professional, suggests Davis-DeFoe.
• Proceed as normal. “Do not suddenly alter your work hours or start calling off work a lot. Stay enthusiastic and professional at work until you leave, this is an investment in your future as well; you want to always be viewed as the consummate professional,” explains Davis-DeFoe.
• Give your notice. “Inform your boss immediately and give sufficient notice. If possible, give more than just two weeks of notice. Work to wrap up all of your work so you are prepared to go sooner or later,” says Davis-DeFoe. “Tell your co-workers personally, instead of them hearing it through the organizational grapevine.”
• Pass on your knowledge. “Offer to train your replacement or create a training manual for the new employee. Both will be much appreciated,” Davis-DeFoe says.
• Make it formal. “Request an exit interview, particularly if this is not routine at the organization, and thank them for the opportunity to have been a part of the team,” she says.
• Make a gracious exit. “If the organization throws a goodbye event for you, make certain to send a thank you note,” concludes Davis-DeFoe.