A man in business attire is standing against a black background and holding up a mini blackboard that says he is handing in his resignation.
Image: © Richard Villalon/Stock.adobe.com

Is it time for a change? Here’s how to know when to move jobs

31 Jan 2020

On the most popular day of the year for resignations, James Milligan of Hays gives his advice about changing jobs.

While some of us return to work after a Christmas break feeling refreshed, motivated and ready to hit the ground running, for others it’s a different story. January can be a tough month with cold weather, short days and failed New Year’s resolutions and, as such, research has suggested that staff are more likely to hand in their resignation letter on 31 January than any other day of the year.

January aside, today’s professionals crave engagement and variety. With so many opportunities out there, it’s hard to know whether to stay where you are and look at reshaping your role, or whether to move on and embrace a new challenge. Here’s my advice on knowing when it’s time to make a change.

Explore internal opportunities

In the first instance, see what options you have in your current role. Have an open and honest conversation with your manager and voice how you’re feeling. Together, you can look through your objectives and assess whether they are still relevant to your role and interests. Is it that you need more support achieving them? Or would you benefit from rewriting them with a different focus?

Your manager should also be able to suggest other internal opportunities that might take you in the direction you want to go. If you work for a big organisation, it’s likely that there is another team or department you can transfer to. If you work in a smaller organisation or start-up, you might be able to reshape your role. Wherever you work, don’t overlook the possibilities that you might have in your current organisation and explore these as your first port of call if you’re considering resigning.

Know when it’s time to move on

If you aren’t able to develop your career internally or your desire to resign represents more deep-rooted issues, you might be ready for a more drastic change. Quitting your job is not a light-hearted decision though, so try asking yourself some questions to help cement your decision.

Are you burned out? If stress is making you feel anxious, if it’s impacting your ability to perform or affecting your health and relationships, it might be time for a change of scenery.

Are you bored? Feeling bored can leave you demotivated and lacking in confidence, indicating that you’re ready for something more stimulating.

Have you stopped learning? Don’t neglect the importance of lifelong learning, as this is what will ultimately fuel your progression and take your career to new places.

Are you being overlooked? If you don’t get the recognition you feel you deserve, you might benefit from moving to greener pastures.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, this might be a good indication that it’s time to move on. But remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list, and everyone’s situation is unique. The important thing is that you are confident in your decision to resign and the reasons why.

Steps to a smooth resignation

So, you’re ready to resign and have decided that now is the time. Before you have that conversation, I’d encourage you to pause for a moment. The way you articulate that you’re leaving impacts other people and your job resignation is part of a formal process – so you don’t want to get caught up in the emotion and regret your actions later.

1. Prepare

Plan how and when you are going to resign. Going in with a game plan will make the process much smoother and more efficient for both sides. Make sure you know when you plan to leave and the reasons for doing so.

2. Communicate

Prioritise who you tell and when you tell them. You should always tell your manager first and a meeting scenario between the two of you will probably work best. Let them advise you how to tell your colleagues about your departure.

3. Follow up

Most companies still require you to submit a formal letter of resignation to your manager. Draft this and try to keep it as factual, professional and courteous as you can. Make sure it specifies your agreed leaving date.

4. Say thanks

Lastly, don’t forget to pass on your thanks. Remember that your departure affects your team and your company, so end on a positive note. It’s highly likely that you’ll cross paths with old colleagues further down the line, so avoid burning any bridges.

Quitting your job can be an emotional time, but it’s something we all go through at least once in our careers. It’s important to prioritise your progression and wellbeing, and your employer and colleagues will understand that.

Keep the above in mind when you hand in your resignation to make a smooth exit and set yourself up for a positive start in a new role.

By James Milligan

James Milligan is director of digital technology at Hays.

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