5 questions to ask yourself before you quit
Have you thought through all the consequences of leaving your job? Consider these first, and then resign the right way.
Have you ever said the words "I quit" and wished you could take them back? Since there’s no such thing as a time machine (yet), this mistake can cost you—literally. Granted, in the heat of the moment, you may be emotionally charged and therefore unable to see beyond the next three minutes, which is what makes this whole quitting thing so risky. Before you quit your job, carefully think through your situation and how these words might affect your future.
Ask yourself these five questions to help you decide whether or not you're ready to resign.
1. Why am I quitting?
Take a step back and evaluate why you want to leave. Maybe you want a bigger paycheck, better benefits, and the option to work from home on occasion. Or perhaps your co-workers are annoying, you’re stuck in a toxic work environment, or you have a boss who yells. Is it more a matter of lack of opportunity, overall boredom, or burnout?
Getting clarity on why you want to quit your job will help you answer the next question.
2. Can this relationship be saved?
If you basically like your job except for a standout issue or two, it might be worth it to seek a resolution. Before you part ways, consider if there’s anything that your employer can do to keep you. Know exactly what would need to be done in order to rectify the situation.
Feel you’re being underpaid? Articulating that to your boss could set in motion a raise. Tired of your commute? Ask your manager for permission to telework. Feeling overworked? See if co-workers can take some tasks off your plate.
If you hate your boss, you might be able to transfer to a different part of the organization. (A survey from global leadership firm DDI found that 57% of employees have left a job because of their manager.)
However, if no steps are taken to improve your happiness, that's a sign the company may not be worth sticking around for.
3. Have I timed this right?
Quitting at the wrong time can hurt your wallet. For instance, if you resign from a job in December, you may be missing out on an end-of-year bonus. Moreover, if you don’t have your next job lined up, consider the risks that you’re assuming in terms of qualifying for unemployment benefits. Your eligibility for unemployment insurance may be at risk if you voluntarily quit your job.
If you’re quitting without having another job offer secured, you need to assess your financial stability. How long can you afford to go without a paycheck? The answer will boil down to your emergency fund—assuming you have one in the first place—and your family’s living expenses.
Ideally, you want to have enough money saved to cover six months of essential expenses, experts say, or more if there’s a shortage of job openings in your field.
4. Is the grass really greener?
Make sure to properly vet other potential employers before quitting a job. There are a number of ways you can research a company, including reading the organization’s recent press releases, talking to current employees about what it’s like to work at the company, and reviewing the company’s most recent earnings report if it’s a public business.
5. Am I giving ample notice?
You've probably spent many hours conjuring up ways to tell your boss you’re quitting, but at the end of the day you want to leave without burning bridges. One requirement is giving your manager sufficient notice. Two weeks’ notice is standard, but it’s good practice to find out what the typical notice period is at your company and follow it.
Don’t slack off during your final days on the job. Phoning it in because you already have one foot out the door can leave your boss with a bad taste in their mouth—and it may hurt your ability to use your boss as a reference in the future. Offering to train your replacement can leave your boss with a good final impression.
Make a clean exit
Take the time to submit a formal resignation letter, briefly stating your reason for leaving, the date of your last day on the job, and your contact information going forward. Also, thank your boss for their support during your employment, even if your manager was lacking a bit in this area.
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