From Megxit to “canceling” to swearing off Facebook to “Veganuary” and beyond, today’s quitting culture shows no signs of . . . quitting.
It was inevitable, then, that the quitting culture would invade the workplace, too.
Working as an HR professional for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen lots of people quit their jobs to take advantage of great opportunities. That’s not new, of course. What’s different now is that many talented professionals, without any effort on their part, are routinely bombarded by recruiters with employment opportunities offering great pay and attractive perks.
All those tempting jobs are enough to motivate many people to quit, even if they’re satisfied with their current position. And if that cool new job pay doesn’t quite work out, it probably won’t be too hard to quit and get an even better job. In fact, some people take quitting culture to the extreme by “ghosting“—not bothering to show up for their first day of work because they’ve already accepted a better offer.
The quitting culture is a result of supply and demand, among other factors. The U.S. unemployment rate has steadily declined in the past 10 years, has remained below 4% since 2018, and hit a 50-year low of 3.5% late last year.
It’s no surprise that employers are having trouble attracting and retaining top talent with the unemployment rate so low for so long. If you’re a skilled professional, this gives you the upper hand over employers, who are competing for talent. We’re in nothing short of an arms race in which employers try to hire people with great skills before another company beats them to it.
Meanwhile, the tools available to recruiters have become more sophisticated, allowing them to find, target, and engage potential job candidates much more easily than before. And so, what used to be a time-consuming process—the job search—may now require little effort beyond responding to an email or LinkedIn message from recruiters.
In this economy, it’s no wonder that many find it incredibly tempting to quit their jobs. While unemployment has declined since 2010, the voluntary turnover rate in the U.S. has steadily increased during the same period, climbing 88% from 2010 to 2018, according to the Work Institute’s 2019 State of the Workforce report. The report adds that “a staggering” 41.4 million U.S. workers voluntarily left their jobs in 2018 primarily for better opportunities.
Tempted to quit? Ask yourself these questions first
People buy into the quitting culture partly because it can seem so easy to quit a job and grab that fresh new opportunity. But most job switchers underestimate how difficult transitioning from one role to another can be. Even if it’s a great position and you’re truly excited, it takes a lot of time, energy, and effort to uproot yourself and settle into a new job at a new company. Will the effort be worth it?
That’s just one of the important questions to ask yourself before quitting. Here are some others.
Have you thought strategically about your current job? Are you still learning in your role? Does your manager support your learning and growth? It’s worth mentioning that 51% of U.S. employees would quit a job if it didn’t provide necessary training, according to Udemy research.
Do you like your colleagues? Is your company doing interesting, meaningful work? Is there a clear path to the next level? Are there other jobs in the company that might be an even better fit than yours? Keep in mind that recruiters where you currently work probably won’t ping you with new openings, so by simply inquiring, you could identify a great opportunity within the same building that gets you to the next level.
If you don’t like your current job, what steps have you taken to improve the situation? What conversations have you had to find out how your job satisfaction might be improved? Without identifying and owning your role in the situation, the same problems may follow you to your new job and the one after that.
Regarding the job you’re considering taking, how stable is the new company? Is the CEO someone others believe in? Does the CEO have a vision for the company that you think makes good business sense? If the company is a startup, does it have sufficient funding? Be aware that you need to dig deep when considering a new company and a new role. You’ll want to be comfortable with the answers to these questions before you jump.
Finally, ask yourself if quitting your job is a knee-jerk reaction or a strategic move toward fulfilling your master career plan. This is a critical consideration, as it can have a long-lasting impact. Think about it: Even though our economy has been going strong for years, it’s not expected to maintain this level of growth forever. When things shift and job growth slows, employers will have the upper hand again. And a lot of job-hopping on your résumé could make you less attractive to employers compared to professionals who followed a more thoughtful career path.
Think like a recruiter
The best way to know you’re making the right job decisions is to build a master career plan: I recommend creating or revisiting yours before quitting so that your next move is a strategic one.
For inspiration, talk to people who are in the types of roles you want. Search for professionals on LinkedIn using keywords that describe the job you hope to have in five or 10 years. Study the career paths of those who show up in your search results. How they got to where they are today can help you map out your own trajectory. It also helps you identify the skills and knowledge you’ll need to get there.
Write a dream résumé for your future self, outlining the positions and successes you hope to have achieved by then. Next, review your dream résumé from a recruiter’s perspective. What would you, as that recruiter, want to see on the résumé? Would you hire yourself for your dream job?
Instead of just quitting, leave with grace
You’ve considered the big transition you’ll make leaving your current job and taking a new one. You’ve honestly answered all the hard questions about why you’re tempted to quit. You’ve created your future résumé that will make a recruiter want to champion you for your dream job.
And you’re still ready to quit? Great. Go for it. Just remember how you quit is really important, too.
Quitting abruptly will burn bridges and work against you in the future. Instead, turn in your resignation as early as you can, knowing it will probably take your employer a while to fill your position. Offer to help identify the critical skills your backfill will need to be successful and even share referrals you may know for the role. This type of support shows you have a commitment to the continued success of your current company.
Share with your boss and colleagues what you learned from your self-discovery efforts. Show them that it was a difficult decision, you took it seriously, and after much soul searching, you’re convinced it’s the right decision. And be sure to express gratitude for the opportunities and help you were given in your job.
When you take these steps, you’ll be leaving with grace. And instead of simply quitting to go for that new shiny opportunity, you’ll be moving forward with a carefully considered master career plan.
Cara Brennan Allamano is senior vice president of People, Places, and Learning at Udemy.