How to Quit Your Job in a Bad Economy
Contrary to the advice your father would most probably give, itispossible to quit your job during a bad economy and still survive. Of course, storming out in the heat of the moment without a plan is never advisable; however, if you keep a clear head and develop a comprehensive strategy long before you deliver your letter of resignation, you can quit your job in a down economy relatively unscathed.
Consider if you really should quit this job or if it's a case of experiencing a bad week (or month).Dig deep into your soul to determine if it's the job or you are just taking a momentary beating by clients or the boss. Sometimes, it's easy to feel as if you just want to flee when times get rocky at work, so you’ll need to take some time to do some real soul searching before you decide to quit. Some things that might indicate it's really time to quit include:
- You aren’t sure this is the career for you anymore. Are you questioning whether you are happy in the chosen profession? Some professionals go for decades in a job and suddenly decide they truly aren’t cut out for the job and go in a completely different direction in order to find happiness. Examine which aspects of the job bring you down, but also which areas you love.
- You don’t like the company (or certain people or its vision/goals, etc). If you feel affinity to your career choice, but wonder if you're working for the right employer, you may just need to determine if it's the entire company you don’t like, its future direction or just the folks in your department or surrounding team––or all three.
- You're feeling overworked without it being compensated or recognized that you've taken on more work. Have you experienced any major changes at work? During a tough economy, companies often cut back and give remaining workers more tasks without additional pay. Consider if the company may just be going through tough times. If you can stick it out, the company will hopefully come out the other end on top and you could be better for staying around.
- The company is failing or gradually imploding and you want to be long gone before this actually happens.
Consider the options for changing your rolewithinthe workplace you're at before quitting.Sometimes this is a possibility that will enable you to take on new, more challenging and more interesting work than the work you're currently doing. If you're working somewhere that values you highly and isn't going to be happy to lose you, this might be a way of developing yourself a new job without having to leave.
- If you’ve been given a promotion, but you're still navigating the in’s and out’s of the job, you might be feeling overwhelmed. This is a situation you may just need to give more time before thinking of leaving. Don't be afraid of asking for training, advice or support. Helping a trusted employee to move up in an organization will often be a cheaper option than replacing you.
- Bear in mind any clauses of your employment contract that prevent you from carrying on the same work either as an individual or for another company. This may have a bearing on your decision to quit during hard times if your field or skills are quite specific. It is also important to be careful about relying on existing clients for future work; in some cases this will be unethical, at least for a certain amount of time.
Calculate what it takes for you to leave your current job for a new job or career choice.Before you even start submitting resumes and searching for a new job, think about what it would take for you to financially leave your current company. Do you have savings and/or a rainy day fund that would provide you with float during times you aren’t receiving a paycheck? Savings are a buffer between you making sound, reasoned choices or choices made out of desperation. It's advisable to have three to eight months of salary equivalent saved up, to give you the cushion needed to survive until the next job.
- Determine what you need to survive by comparing your total expenses to your net income. Include important bills including rent, mortgage, utilities, tuition, groceries, auto insurance, credit card bill(s) and car payments. Do you have enough in savings or a rainy day fund to sustain your lifestyle for a minimum of three months?
- Consider all expenses when measuring your income (or savings) versus expenses. This includes recreation such as dining out, clothing and movies and gas money.
- Look at your credit card balance. Your credit card isn't an option when you're not employed because there won't be income to pay off what you add to it. Can you pay it down to nothing now and only use it for items that are paid off within the no-interest payment period? This is a noose-around-your-neck that you must take care of above all.
- If you live paycheck to paycheck, obviously you will need to make sure you have a “sure thing” lined up in terms of another job before telling your boss to take this job and shove it.
- If you aren't saving already, start now. The sooner you do, the sooner you can fulfill the dream of quitting your current job.
Make a serious effort to line up another job.Even if you have money for float, make a concerted effort to line up another job before quitting. In a weak economy, you will have to work extra hard, but if you are truly miserable and need to quit, your extra work will be worth the effort.
- The Internet may be your best bet when it comes to landing a new gig. Conduct a keyword search using your career choice and jobs. For example, if you are a writer, search “writing” or “writer” jobs. Dozens of career websites should appear and lead you to possibilities in your area (or in new locations if you are interested in moving).
- Tap into your network. From LinkedIn to your current network of colleagues and friends, covertly get the word out that you're looking to change companies or jobs. Consider leveraging your social network as well––you never know where the next opportunity may be hiding.
- Try a head hunter. From temp work to executive placement, a head hunter is still a viable option. Remember, a head hunter has to make money somehow so read any contract you sign carefully to ensure that the company who hires you will be paying the fee and not you.
Think outside the box.Beyond jumping from one job to another, consider what other options you might have. Sometimes it is easy to limit yourself to thinking you can only ever do a certain kind of job, when in reality there are many other options provided you're willing to challenge your notions of what's normal in terms of work:
- Consider starting your own business. You might have something that you've always wanted to provide as a business. However, this isn't for the fainthearted; you need the right set of skills, knowledge and ability to run your own business and it's not for everyone. Don't see it as an easy solution but if you've done your homework and you know you're right for it, then it could be one solution. Investigate the possibilities whilestill in your current jobso that you have done the necessary research and have developed a thorough business planbeforequitting. Also, some part-time trying out of your business before you quit will help give you an idea of the business's likely success (aka "moonlighting").
- Consider contracting or temporary work. While it's not permanent work, if you have a particular skill that is in demand, this can be an excellent way to make money in between jobs and while you're sorting yourself out.
- Sell things online. It is thought that everyone has some things worth selling that are no longer wanted. You can also branch out by investigating options of what you might be able to sell, sourced from warehouses, auctions, estate sales and the like.
- Volunteer overseas. Have a total head space break and go overseas to help out for a while. Choose a scheme that doesn't require you to pay but that looks after your needs while you give of your time and expertise. This isn't a job option but it is a chance to reorient your life in a meaningful way if this is an issue for you.
Take the necessary steps to enter a new career path.If you want to ditch your current career completely, make sure you can quit your job and never look back. If you need to go back to school, think about how you will support yourself or your family while you are earning your degree. Talk to different schools about what it will take to get into a specific program before making any life changing decisions –– in some cases you’ll need to fulfill several prerequisites, which may possibly delay your career change plan. You may not need to make such a big overhaul as getting a new degree; investigate night school or adult training in areas that don't require years of high skilled training, as well as bridging courses if you're already qualified in one area.
- Consider a part-time job while you are learning a new trade or profession. You’ll still need income while you go to school, so lining up a part-time job is a good idea before putting your plan in action.
Make sure everyone in the family is on board with your decision.While you may have always dreamed of being a trapeze artist all of your life, leaving your law job for the circus may not gel with the family, especially when there is a mortgage, school fees and next summer's vacation to pay for. Everyone affected by your decision needs to be accounted for, and some of these people deserve a discussion about how your choice will impact their own choices and work decisions.
- Don't be surprised at the fear or shock from some family members. Many people believe that staying with a job matters above all else, and even more so when times are hard. You aren't going to be able to convince them otherwise, so don't try. Simply remember that this is your choice and that they aren't in your work shoes but be understanding of their fears. If they are in your immediate family, you'll need to reassure them that you will still be responsible in your family role.
- Be ready for some colleagues and other outsiders to be negative. There will be plenty of people who will insist that you'll never get another job in hard times. Realize that they're voicingtheirconcerns and are afraid. While it is understandable that some are fearful, that is not a reason to stay stuck. Life is too short.
Look to employment industries that are booming.Some industries are experiencing growth, in areas such as energy, aging services, health care, etc. There are books available that explain which areas are in dire need of employees, so it might pay to read one or two of these and see whether you're keen on reinvesting your time and effort to re-skill yourself to work in one of these industries.
Resign professionally and use the formal method required.Usually it is best to resign in writing, using a standard form letter. Keep it brief and polite, thanking the company for the opportunity you've had to work for them.
- Provide your employer with enough time to hire your replacement. If your employer has always shown you respect during your tenure, return the favor by providing ample time for the company to find your replacement. Typically two weeks is an acceptable amount of time in the USA, but one week may be enough time, especially if the company has a flooded job pool, ripe for the picking. Alternatively, read the terms of your employment contract.
- If you know someone perfect for your role, help out your employer by suggesting them. Your employer will be having a difficult time sifting through the hundreds or thousands who will want your job when it's advertised, so you might be able to do your boss a good turn.
- Never burn bridges when quitting a job––no matter how terrible the situation or how awful your boss! Keep your emotions in check, limit your comments about the resignation and hold your head high. You never know when you might need a good reference, a return to that workplace or if someone will speak ill of you elsewhere and thereby scuttle your chances of some other job.
- If you want to start your own business, read plenty of books on the topic first. One thing that will come through from such reading is that there is never a right or wrong time to begin most businesses; it's all about your effort, the choice of business and more of your effort. Sometimes down-times can be the best time to fill a niche or improve lagging services, so don't let recession times hold you back from fulfilling a business dream.
- If you live where health insurance plans are part of your salary, continue to contribute to it while you're not working or one emergency could destroy all of your savings.
- If you do try your own business but don't succeed, don't be ashamed about returning to salaried work. Running your own business, being a consultant or working freelance isn't for everyone and sometimes you just need to try it to discover that. Treat it as a learning experience.
- Be aware that if you quit your job but don't have something else lined up or good savings behind you, things could be very tough for a while. If you're prepared to wear this reality, then it's fine but be careful if you're toying with taking three months vacation and then think you'll find it a snap to get back into work, as things may have changed a lot since the last time you applied for work.
- If your job is creating mental (and sometimes physical) anguish, consult with a medical and/or psychological professional to determine if you are suffering from depression or another condition related to work. In some cases, your company’s health benefit package may cover you for temporary disability so you can work through your issues before making any long-term (or permanent) decisions about your job.
- Never quit your job without consulting with your spouse or family.
- After leaving your job, never badmouth your former employer –– keep it classy so you can keep the door open.
Video: HOW TO QUIT YOUR JOB LIKE A PROFESSIONAL | Sophie Shohet
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