Thinking of quitting your job? You’re not alone. A study by Microsoft found that 41% of the global workforce would consider leaving their current employer within the next year. And a poll from Monster reports that 95% of workers are at least contemplating a job change.
A good way to know if it’s temporary burnout or a real desire for change is to take the alarm clock test, says Rob Barnett, author of Next Job Best Job: A Headhunter’s 11 Strategies to Get Hired Now.
“When your alarm goes off and you’re in that moment between sleep and waking, are you raring to go or saying ‘ugh,'” he says. “It’s a soul speaking moment. If you’re saying ‘ugh,’ then your job is not giving what you need. That’s when you know you’re stuck, settling, being disrespected, underpaid, underutilized, or overworked.”
Employees who were furloughed or had to take a pay cut or pay freeze during the pandemic may be disenchanted with their employers, says Vicki Salemi, Monster’s career expert. “Now that we’re seeing companies restart hiring, a significant portion of employees are saying ‘yes’ when it comes to considering changing jobs,” she says.
Walking into the office and quitting when you’re in a bad mood, isn’t the best strategy, says Barnett. Instead, ask yourself a few questions:
What Do You Want to Leave Behind?
When you’re deciding to exit, Salemi suggests doing some soul searching to determine what you don’t like at your current job. Perhaps your job feels like dead end due to a lack of growth opportunities. Or maybe you want to use different skill sets or change industries. “Identify what you do and don’t like so you can begin a focused search and set up job alerts,” says Salemi.
Barnett suggests approaching your boss with the list of things you’d like to change. “Try to have a substantial conversation about how to improve what’s wrong,” he says. “You have to give your boss a realistic amount of time to help you correct what’s wrong. But the only person who can set that realistic timeframe is you. If it has passed, it’s time to leave.”
Are You Financially Secure?
“Option one is leaving without knowing what’s next,” says Barnett. “It’s also known as being brave and perhaps a little crazy. Option two is secretly setting up the next best job before you quit.”
Crunch the numbers, suggests Salemi. “Everyone has a different comfort level, and some may feel okay resigning without a new opportunity because their current situation is toxic, and they may not be able to focus their energy into a successful search,” she says. “If you have enough money in savings, you may be able to quit without a new job lined up. Or you may want to hang on to your current job and look for another job in your spare time.”
Financial security goes beyond your paycheck, adds Salemi. “What benefits are you currently getting through employer?” she asks. “Paying for your own healthcare could be detrimental to your budget. Look at your entire compensation package while you’re considering quitting.”
Do You Just Need a Vacation?
In the Monster survey, nearly a third of respondents said the number one factor prompting their desire for a job change is burnout. Salemi suggests taking paid time off and completely unplugging from work.
“Last year so few people took personal time,” she says. “They thought, ‘Where am I going to go?’ And there are only so many closets to organize.”
It can help to take a step back from your current position to decide if you want to quit or if your job would be tolerable with some changes. “When you start to think about returning, evaluate your job from birds-eye view,” says Salemi. “There’s usually a good reason when you’re thinking about quitting. Circulate your résumé, network, and start to apply for jobs. You can always decide whether or not to stay when you get an offer. Now is an excellent time to look, especially when you do it strategically and methodically.”
Every tragedy creates opportunities for light and positivity, says Barnett. “The rapid upheaval of the workforce had 41 million people filing for unemployment,” he says. “The new reality is that many companies are now having a hard time filling new jobs. While there’s competition for the premium jobs, candidates have greater opportunity than they did a year and a half ago. If you’re thinking of quitting right now, make sure you think through the process to set yourself up for success.”