The last year and a half changed the way we live, work, and even quit our jobs. Forbes, NPR, Linked In, and many media outlets call the new trend of massive resignations in the labor market for 2021 #TheGreatResignation.
Before you follow this trend, check out the eight steps you should take before quitting your job.
Why is everyone quitting their jobs?
There are many reasons why millions of people around the globe are quitting their jobs. As a leadership coach, I work with professionals from the education, human service, and tech field and found that folks, especially women, are fed-up with their employers' responses around shutdowns, remote work expectations, and hiring freezes. In a time where everyone has high stress levels and a feeling of uncertainty, watching your work friends get laid off and the lack of response from leadership around racial justice issues "emptied your emotional buckets."
Social distancing and lockdowns required you to take time to think about the inequities and microaggressions you experience at work every day.
The pandemic also gave us something most of us never had, which is time. Before the pandemic, it was "easier" to stay at a toxic job because you would plan your burnouts around your vacation and sick time, always living for the next holiday break. But social distancing and lockdowns required you to take time to think about the inequities and microaggressions you experience at work every day. Even as venues opened this summer and lockdowns ended, what you experienced last year opened your eyes, and you have decided it's time to move to the next phase in your career.
The power dynamics that have allowed employers to take advantage of candidates during the interview and offer process are shifting to benefit job seekers (about time!).
Another thing you have in your favor? Options. 2021 is a seller's market, and it's also a job-seekers market. In June 2021, employers reported that there are 8.1 million positions open. Companies are getting creative with benefits to attract candidates like tuition assistance, sign-on bonuses, and FINALLY sharing salary information on job descriptions. You have the leverage to negotiate your salary and benefits on your terms. The power dynamics that have allowed employers to take advantage of candidates during the interview and offer process are shifting to benefit job seekers (about time!).
As you are updating your resume and LinkedIn, there are several things you should consider and do before you submit your resignation letter or order your "I Quit!" cake.
What should I do before I quit my job?
1. Update Your Resume - it might seem obvious, but it's not just updating your resume with your previous work experience. The modern job search requires you to create an attractive resume for hiring managers and Applicant Tracking Systems. Create your resume on Word or Google Docs, start every sentence or bullet point with an action verb (example: Co-led, Analized, Organized, Researched, etc.), and keep it to 1-2 pages. Focus on your impact rather than a description of your role, and always include your town/state/zip code, phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL.
2. Update Your LinkedIn Profile - yes, even if you haven't logged into your account in years. Over 75 % of people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to inform their career decision, and 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions in their companies. I've also learned that your LinkedIn profile usually appears on the first page of a Google search for your name, most times before other social media or even your website, so a presence on the platform is a must.
3. Create An Exit Strategy - you can't plan (and shouldn't) every second of every day, but create a calendar for yourself of how your exit will occur. Don't share your plans with anyone at work, so your manager only finds out directly from you. Consider upcoming vacation or paid-time-off you have planned, upcoming deadlines or projects you want to be a part of, and anything that might affect your departure. It's not for the benefit of your employer but for you to have a smooth transition. Write a letter of resignation so you can present it after your in-person (or virtual) conversation with your manager, and
4. Activate Your Network - they say your "network is your net worth," and it doesn't matter at what leadership level you are in; your network can open doors you had not considered before. Let your network know you are exploring a career change and share what types of roles you are looking for. Don't focus on the title; every company has its jargon, and let them know what type of salary, responsibilities, and impact you are interested in exploring. Once someone shares an opportunity, ask them if they'll introduce the hiring manager or staff, and set up a 10-15 min informational interview. This type of connection allows the hiring manager to wait for your application materials versus applying with thousands of other applicants.
5. Create A Budget - transitions always require money, and quitting your job is a big financial decision—plan for the transition between your last check and your first check at your new role. If you are applying for unemployment benefits, it might take weeks for you to receive your first payment, but creating a budget will allow you to have the confidence you need to resign rather than staying in a role that no longer serves you.
6. Delete Personal Information From Your Work Computer - even if you give your employer a 2-weeks notice, they can ask you to leave immediately if they believe you might work for a competitor or have access to highly private information. Sign out of your email and social media accounts, delete personal documents from folders, and empty your recycle bin.
Your contract might include a Non-Disclosure Agreement, Confidentiality Clause, or Ownership of Intellectual Property. These clauses mainly state that you cannot share certain information about the decisions, strategies, or programs the company is launching and that the business owns the work you created for them. Be careful about downloading or saving company data that is not yours or has any client information; everything can and will be tracked back to you.
7. Look At Labor Market Trends - when job searching, we get hyper-focused on the title rather than the opportunities for growth or how the day-to-day work will feel. Your friends might be changing fields and landing roles, but the labor market will be changing in the next couple of months, and many industries, like construction, retail, residential care, and tourism, will take years to be back to pre-pandemic levels. This change in the labor market doesn't mean you won't find a job in that field, but to position yourself as a top candidate for those positions, research the skills, education, and employment trends to create a job search strategy once you start applying. I recommend visiting ONET Online and doing an Occupation Quick Search on roles you are interested in.
8. Work With A Mentor Or Leadership Coach - finally, you don't have to figure it out all by yourself. Connect with your mentors or seek the support of leadership or career coach. These key members of your leadership team can connect you to opportunities, provide resources, keep you accountable to your goals, and help you navigate the transition and job search process. One of the great things about working with a leadership coach like myself is that I will help you identify what you want for your career and create a plan to achieve it.
What should I do once I'm ready to quit my job?
Schedule your in-person or virtual meeting with your manager and send them an email requesting to meet. Before the meeting, practice with your mentor or leadership coach to feel confident the day of the talk. Submit your resignation in writing after the meeting, and expect to connect with the Human Resources department at some point before you leave. Don't share any information with your direct reports or peers until you have discussed your transition and communication plan with your manager.
Don't be impressed by raises; if your boss believed that you should be earning more they should have advocated for a salary increase before you resigned. This is a red flag and an indicator that the company knew you should get paid more.
You should also be prepared to receive a counteroffer, where your manager might offer you money or incentives to stay at the company. If you are considering any terms to stay, ask for time to review the offer and consider how these changes will affect your working conditions and growth. Don't be impressed by raises; if your boss believed that you should be earning more they should have advocated for a salary increase before you resigned. This is a red flag and an indicator that the company knew you should get paid more. Leverage benefits like remote work, additional vacation days, flexible schedules, commuter benefits, tuition reimbursement, company-funded coaching, in addition to salary.
Use the time between the resignation talk and your last day to connect with leaders and peers and ask for recommendation letters or references.
There is no perfect way to quit your job, but taking these steps before your resignation meeting will help you prepare for the upcoming job search and clarify what to do so you transition out of your role in the most effective way.
Paulette Piñero is the owner of LEAD Media LLC, a leadership coaching and management consulting firm that helps professionals of color get the confidence and skills they need to take the next step in their careers. Connect Paulette on LinkedIn and Instagram.