Do you remember a few years ago when it was rage to hold up high? YouTube and social media were lit up with people topping each other with the most flamboyant ways to quit their jobs. Bands were hired, billboards were customized, singing telegrams were delivered … dissatisfied employees could hardly wait to tell the world how they felt about their jobs.
I was not a fan of the trend, but I’m old – fashioned that way. I’m still in favor of giving a little notice, but if anyone is going to leave in a huff, a simple “I quit” will do. No need to be disgusted about it.
Ending is in the news again, but not for the spectacle of it. Now, the large number of job breakers is catching attention, with more volunteers leaving their positions than at any other time in the last 30 years.
I can only say that we have come a long way. This may seem strange for millennia or even gen-xers, but it was not long ago when people felt ashamed of being out of work. You could be rich and own five homes, but if you did not have to work, something was wrong with you.
It was not, in my opinion, the good old days. For fear of cultural approval, workers are stuck with abusive bosses or low wages or unfulfilled positions. But if they left, new employers might refuse to hire them on the assumption that someone who resigns without a new job is unreliable or a job holder.
Overall, it is a good thing that workers feel more freedom of movement. It’s better for the employee, and in the end it will be better for the workplace when more jobs are held by people who want to be there, not by those who feel trapped in being.
Unfortunately, not everyone who stops right now is exercising a newfound sense of freedom. Lack of day care, fear of getting sick and simple burnout drive many of the job vacancies that fill economists’ statistics sheets.
Like everything else in our working lives, there are good and less good ways of doing things, including finishing a job. If you’re playing with the idea of leaving, whether it’s necessary or to fulfill a personal dream, you’re probably not up for a brass band to give the message. That’s fine, but what do you plan to do instead?
The following are five things to do at your job before you give notice. Next week’s column contains five more things to do in your personal life, with a final column on five things to do in your career before you pull the plug on your job.
1. Talk to your boss. This may be the last thing you want to do, but think about it: If you want to stop anyway, what’s the harm? Make a meeting and explain that you are thinking of leaving, and then see what happens. You may not change your mind, but again, you may end up with an increase or a better schedule while implementing your plans.
2. Look for internal options. Maybe you do not need to stop as much as you need a change of pace. New committees, projects or a brand new job can make it possible to stay longer with the same employer.
3. Prepare to leave. Just in case things go faster than you expect, start now by collecting contact information for your colleagues or others you want to keep in touch with, as well as sample samples for your portfolio. While you’re at it, clean up your computer, truck, closet, desk, or workstation so you can get out faster when it’s time.
4. Upgrade your workout. If you are planning to stay a few months or more, look for company training that you can access in the meantime. It can be software upgrades, management classes, license renewals, etc.
5. Check your timing. Does your company pay bonuses in March? Then do not leave in February if you can help it. Do you get depressed in the winter? Then it might not be smart to be unemployed when the snow is flying. As you control this job departure, make sure the timing is right for you as well.
What if you just want to go – right now? If you are too burnt out to make plans, take a sick day, take a deep breath and think once again just to be safe. Or wait for the next two columns to see what else you want to do before flying the coop.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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