If you're in a job that's clearly awful in at least one aspect, there's at least one upside: it's a lot easier to know that you want to quit. But if you like your team, have a decent salary and a reasonable manager, you'll likely have a more difficult time deciding when to move on.
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Assessing your career trajectory and possible options is always a good idea, and even if you do decide that it's time to quit your job, you likely won't be doing so immediately. Making up your mind about quitting is really about launching your job search more than putting in your notice.
If you've been in the same position for a while and are on the fence about leaving, these are some factors you'll want to consider before making a move:
Think About Your Long Game
If you're happy in your current role, you still might consider quitting once you think about your long-term potential with your company. Adrian Granzella Larssen, Editor-at-Large for The Muse, recommends asking yourself about these areas:
- Skill development: What skills are you currently learning? If you're not learning any now, could you be? How will those skills help take you to the next level of your career?
- Role growth: Is there room for your role to grow? Can you take on more responsibilities and have more influence and decision making power?
- Salary: Will the company, and your manager, invest in keeping you happy when it comes to your salary, including raises and bonuses?
- Career path: Do you, or your manager, see a clear path for you within the company? Maybe your manager's job, or transitioning to another team?
If most of these areas don't have a positive outlook, then it may be time to start looking elsewhere. Put together a list of things you like about your job so that you have a solid base to start from when searching.
Granzella Larssen points out, it's easy to get caught up in a title or pay bump, but consider what other aspects of a job and company matter to you so that you can still enjoy them at a new role. For example, if your current job has good work-life balance or gives you a flexible schedule so you can drive your kid's carpool, you might want those in your new role, too.
Prepare to Leave Gracefully
Wrapping up things well before you leave will help you preserve the professional relationships you've built and boost your reputation, which is especially key in small industries or if you cross paths with your coworkers in the future.
Be prepared to have a few different conversations, which are common when you share that you're leaving:
- Why you're leaving: Curious colleagues, and your boss, will want to know why you're moving on, especially if you were happy in your role. Think about how you want to answer this — sometime a more vague answer is the way to go in order to preserve relationships. For example, "I'm looking for a new challenge," or "At [new company] I'll work on X, which isn't possible for me here."
- What's next: Have a one or two sentence summary of what your new role is and where you'll be working.
- A counteroffer: You may get a counteroffer from your soon-to-be-ex employer. Granzella Larssen advises that you think ahead of time if you'd be willing to consider such an offer, and what that conversation may be like.
Your manager may ask you to stay longer than the standard two-to-four week notice period, to give them time to find someone new and have you train them. But as New York Magazine lays out, your notice period is about giving you time to transition anything that's in progress, so don't feel like you have give a lengthy notice period.
However, you should make sure that you document your projects well and start looping in those who will take over so that the transition is as easy as possible on your team and boss. Granzella Larssen recommends being low key about your new gig:
Be gracious. None of your co-workers want to hear about your flashy new title or big salary. The best way to leave on great terms is to thank everyone you've worked with for the opportunities you've had and the chance to work together.
She also suggests a good-bye note with your LinkedIn and personal email so that you can actually keep in touch with colleagues. These connections can be critical later in your career, so it is worthwhile to genuinely keep in contact.