Most employers no longer provide the same level of long-term stability and job security they did in previous generations, and opportunities for promotion often involve taking up a new position elsewhere. And, as we become more conscious of the necessity of a good work-life balance and the economy improves, we are realizing the importance of choosing an employer who provides more than a paycheck.
Don’t quit your job on a whim, or because you think a new job will magically improve your life. If you decide to quit, do it for the right reasons.
Let’s look at three common scenarios, and how you should respond.
I’m Sick of this Company!
Complaining about your job is nothing unusual. The boss said or did something dumb. Your co-workers continually let you down. You’re fed up of the long hours. You hate your daily commute. You deserve a raise. Nobody appreciates you. Even the coffee in the break room is vile. You hate the place, and any day now, you’re going to tell them to shove it.
When you feel like that, think very carefully before you take any hasty decisions based on your emotions. If you quit under those circumstances, you’re hoping wherever you end up will be better. Perhaps a new job is what you need, but there are two things you should consider first.
- Can This Be Fixed? Have you tried talking to your boss or your co-workers? Are they even aware that you’re ready to quit? It’s possible that they have no idea there’s a problem. It doesn’t always get you the results you want, but it’s often worth having that conversation. Don’t approach it with a negative attitude, or you’ll come across as a petulant whiner. Instead, be constructive. Explain why you’re unhappy and that you’re thinking of moving on, and ask if there’s anything they can do to change your mind.
- Is It Really Your Fault? Maybe you don’t fit in, and you need to address your own behavior. Perhaps you didn’t get that raise because you need to be a better communicator or a better team player. Perhaps your boss wouldn’t make such dumb decisions if you were better at giving them the information they need. If that’s the case, then having a new job won’t solve your problem: you’ll just take your attitudes with you and you’ll run into the same issues wherever you go.
I you’re sure the situation cannot be improved, it’s time to look elsewhere. Resist the temptation to tell future employers or social media about all the problems. No recruiter wants to hire someone who will bitch about their employer, and if your current employer finds out, you may well find yourself out of a job faster than you wanted.
My Work is Ridiculously Frustrating!
You may like the company and your co-workers, but if you’ve stopped enjoying what you do? The job can be miserable. Maybe you’re stuck on boring projects, or no longer feel challenged. You feel like you’re in a dead end, and you’re only there for the paycheck.
First, explore opportunities within your current company. You may uncover opportunities to develop your career in-house.
- Ask about transferring to other projects. You may have to finish off your current project, or wait for a replacement, but having a goal in mind makes the wait a lot less frustrating. Rotating staff is common in many engineering companies; smart managers know engineers get bored and need new challenges. They usually won’t be surprised if you tell them you want to expand your skills and try something new.
- Ask about taking on a new role. Many engineering companies prefer to promote managers internally, so this route can often be more effective than trying to find a better job elsewhere. Even a temporary change can be enough. As Todd Rhoad of Blitz Team Consulting points out, “you can always bounce back to engineering if you decide management isn’t the path for you.”
Larger companies may have plenty of avenues for growth. In a small company, however, opportunities may be limited. If you can’t agree on a development plan that suits you, it’s probably time to go. Talk to your manager, explain what you’re doing and why. Try to get their support, ensure you’ll get outstanding references, and make it as civilized as possible.
My Work is Done Here.
A savvy engineer has a career positioning plan the moment they leave college, if not before. There will come a time when you’ve achieved all you can in your current job. It’s time to move onto the next stage of your career.
This isn’t quitting out of frustration, it’s moving to the next stage of a structured plan..
- Check your objectives. Be absolutely certain you’re still in alignment with your plan. If there’s a fantastic opportunity coming up that will help you reach your ultimate goal, then take it, and don’t look back. Don’t feel that you have to stay out of loyalty. It’s rarely the case that a single engineer is irreplaceable – and if you are, they should be trying much harder to keep you onboard.
- Make sure you have support. Be upfront with your boss about your plans, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Give plenty of notice and develop a clean transition plan.
Having a career plan makes this whole decision much easier. If your current job offers you the opportunity to make your dreams come true, then stay there. If it doesn’t?
When you leave, do it with class.