I use the term YOLO quite often, especially when I talk to myself (No, I’m not crazy ;)). I don’t use it in an ironic way, but rather because I need to remind remind myself that we really do only live once. Being unhappy isn’t an option. Telling myself one day I will complete something is never the answer. Seizing an opportunity when it presents itself is a must. I do this to give myself the courage to make decisions that are in my best interest, so that I take the leap to do whatever it is that I am afraid to do.
I recently interviewed with a company and, after every round of interviews, I thought to myself, “I need to work with this person.” And I kept saying that to my husband each time I met with a new person from this company. At first, I thought they must be putting their best foot forward until it became clear that these were simply the type of people they hired. I agonized over what to do even before I had the offer. I kept telling myself, “I have built good relationships at my current company. I have made a name for myself here. I’m comfortable in my role. Maybe they will offer me a better position.” That desire to work with those individuals never went away. And so I quit my job after almost 7 years.
I don’t want to talk to you today about my current company or the one I am headed to. I want to talk to you about resigning from your organization and a few of the different factors you should be aware of if you are planning on leaving yours. Later this week we will talk about this from the managerial position.
Are you ready to quit?
When I left a company in the past it was mainly because I felt that I had learned all I could from the people around me. Needless to say, I was always ready to leave. This time was a little different for me. This new company approached me and was able to dazzle me with their awesome team members so, for me, it was more of a question of why this company would be a better fit for me at this point in my career.
If you are going to take the step, you have to know why you are leaving. Is it in favor of this new company or to “get away” from your current company? Is it because you can’t possibly stand to see your current boss’s face anymore? Is it to learn from new people? Is it because you are hoping to use it as a negotiating tool to get a raise at your current company? (<— I would not argue in favor of this. If they offer to give you a significant raise at your departure then you were underpaid to begin with and I guarantee you don’t want to stay there.)
Whatever your reason, do it because it is in the best interest for you, and not because you are so angry that you can’t even see straight. I know there is the saying, “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” While I do believe this statement holds true for the masses, if this ever held true for me it was a contributing factor, not an underlying reason. I do my best to ensure that I never leave in such a fit of anger that I take whatever offer comes my way, because then I would be leading myself into another tumultuous situation.
So what does it mean to “be ready to quit”? This could mean a multitude of things; however, if you are looking for new career opportunities, to learn from new people, or simply do not believe the organization is headed in the same direction as you, then these are all reasons to start looking for a new role outside of your company. As you begin your search and start to think of where you want to head, consider what trainings you might need to better prepare you for a future role (and take them!). You don’t want to be angry heading into a new position, but rather model yourself after Bob the Builder and equip yourself with the tools you need in your tool belt to be successful. Figure out what those tools are and go grab ‘em, then we can talk about how to approach your company.
Is two weeks enough?
That question is going to depend entirely on your industry, your country of residence, and position in the company. In general, I will say that it is commonplace for you to give a two weeks notice. Anothing more than two weeks is generous on your part.
If you are angry with your organization it is easy to say, “If they were letting me go they wouldn’t be giving me a two week’s notice, why should I give them any notice? Please refer back to the burning bridges discussion of the previous section.
You always have to keep in mind that at-will organizations can walk you out the door the moment you hand in your resignation. This is a risk you as an employee incur. They are not required to pay you for any days you did not perform work. Whatever amount of time you give, you should be comfortable knowing they may walk you out the door.
How should you quit?
It’s takes courage to leave the comfort of a current position. Often times we need the support from others in order to take that big step, which means that we ultimately end up discussing this leave with our current coworkers. If I were your mentor, I would advise against this. Here’s why: People gossip. You have absolutely no idea who will say what to whom and who could be standing a few feet away. I would argue that you should give your boss the courtesy of informing him/her before the rest of the organization finds out. So what steps should you take?
First and foremost, I believe you should quit in person (or at least face-to-face via Teams). If you are old enough to have a job then you should be mature enough to look someone in the eye and tell them why you are leaving. Before you do so, make sure you:
- Have your letter of resignation completed and signed (Click here for an example on how to write a Letter of Resignation)
- Prepare a tentative handover plan to present to your boss. This will show that you have given thought to a seamless transition.
- Identify a few reasons you are choosing this new company and position.
- Schedule a 1:1 with your boss and make sure you are respectful.
Going back to the “people leave managers” comment: Even if he/she is the reason you are leaving you should not say that because it only casts blame on them. Relationships take two people and you are most likely leaving to be in a less toxic environment, so I encourage you to focus on the positives of the new role as you communicate your resignation: I’m being offered a position that will allow me to quickly grow into a managerial role. They are offering to pay for XYZ certifications so that I can become a subject matter expert. The company is also allowing me to work remotely, which is most important for me and my family right now.
I say these things because the last thing you want to do is gain an enemy in your industry - they are much smaller than you think! In German they have a saying, “man sieht sich zweimal im Leben.” Translated this means, you will meet someone twice in your lifetime. Don’t burn the bridge, it isn’t worth it.
Once the meeting is over, email your letter of resignation to both your manager and HR representative.
Everyone has a price. No matter how much you hate an organization, everyone has a price that they would accept to stay. Make sure you know what that dollar amount is and accept nothing less than that dollar amount if you are willing to stay. If you know that you aren’t going to entertain an offer, it’s ok to say, “I respectfully ask that you do not counter.” But you should expect them to ask questions about what they could potentially do to get you to stay.
For me, in any situation where I have left a job, the questions the company asked were, “Are you sure this is new position right fit for you? Is this set in stone? Can we talk to you about a different position we have in mind for you?”. Keep in mind this is business. Even though individuals tend to get emotional, you have to look out for your best interest. You are not going to hurt someone’s feelings if you are respectful as you decline.
If you are doing the song and dance to try and get more money out of your new company, I ask you why you didn’t try and negotiate higher from the get go. In my personal opinion, if you are trying to pin one company against the other, then you should work on your negotiation skills. If you are joining a good company, they are hopefully offering you market value or higher. Is it really worth it to squeeze a few more dollars out of them and potentially strain the new relationship? I would argue No.
If you are struggling in a current organization figure out the reason for it, because leaving a company isn’t always the answer. Whatever decision you make, I hope it is one that will fulfill you. I hope you have found the courage to apply to new positions and find an organization that will make you happy. Don’t tell yourself one day, because life is too short to be unhappy. Seize the opportunity, and remember: YOLO.