In today’s competitive job market, workers are saying “I quit” at a historically high rate, leaving their companies for better opportunities elsewhere or switching up their careers entirely.
If you’re one of the many looking to hand in your resignation — whether that’s to secure a higher salary at a new organization, find a more fulfilling position or even take a career break – how can you ensure your next role is the perfect fit? And how do you know when it’s actually the right time to move on from your current position?
Of course, it’s impossible to predict how your next job move may turn out, but after speaking with professors Robin Elledge and Tom Hayashi from USC’s online Master of Human Resource Management program, we learned how you can quit and find the best job for your background and career goals.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Quit Your Job?
Quitting your job is a major decision, and the process can cause a bit of stress and anxiety. After all, even at jobs we dislike, there is a sense of comfort and stability in knowing your boss, co-workers and day-to-day responsibilities.
But if you’ve begun pondering the idea of quitting, ask yourself why this thought keeps popping up in your mind, Hayashi advised.
“The first thing that I would recommend about a job change is that people think about why they want it and what they’re hoping to get out of it,” he said.
Maybe you really don’t work well with your manager, or you’re worried your career is stagnant, or you want to explore a new career path.
What’s key is you determine what exactly makes you unhappy about your current role and what you’d like to get out of the next job you land. That way, you can start your search with a clear objective in mind, and you can also tailor your resume to better fit this desire.
It also gives you a chance to brush up on any training or education you may need for this job change.
How to Find a Better Job
Once you’ve identified why you want to leave your workplace and what you want to do next, it’s time to narrow down the jobs you wish to apply for.
Elledge noted that a major part of a job hunt is utilizing your community, as most jobs come through networking: “The more robust your network is, the more likely you can reach out to someone who knows about a job.”
Of course, that means building your network before you need it, she said. You should actively be attending events, communicating with co-workers and keeping an eye on opportunities to expand your network throughout your career.
“Networking is also about what you have to offer them, so think about how you can help support them before asking in return for something,” Elledge said. “And make sure you follow up after you meet people and thank them, so they remember you. Maybe send articles or Ted Talks they might find relatable and tell them it contains tips you found helpful for work. What you’re striving for ultimately is diversity in your network.”
Hayashi agreed that networking is crucial to landing your dream job: “You really need to … take a look at all of the people who you are connected to in your personal and professional life and see if that could be mapped out to places and companies and jobs that you want to get to.”
You also should consider directly contacting people who work for the organization you’re interested in. This allows you to get your name out there as well as find out if the company is the right fit. Be sure to ask questions about the job duties, staff and work culture.
“You don’t want to go in blind where you had a bad experience at your past job, and now you’ve repeated that same kind of unpleasant experience because the company culture isn’t compatible for you,” Hayashi said. “You may need to do several rounds or levels of networking to get to the right person to get as much information about the position as possible, but it’s a good idea.”
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that finding a new job does take some work — often, it’s a full-time job in and of itself. So, don’t get discouraged if there isn’t an immediate win. Keep putting in the time, and you’ll have a breakthrough eventually.
Elledge recommended setting numerical goals of jobs to apply to each day or week, as well as time frames for when to reach out again to networking contacts. Keeping your search organized will help you track your progress as well.
Once you land a job offer, you should consider it carefully, Elledge advised. Be sure the job you’re selecting will make you more fulfilled, so pay close attention during the interview process. You don’t want to join the millions of “Great Resignation” job-leavers who ended up regretting their decision.
“Verify the scope of responsibilities and confirm that’s actually what you want in the job because you don’t want to be disappointed. Secondly, the boss and team are critical to your happiness in a new job. You want a boss who will develop you and mentor you and support you, so definitely find out what it’s like to work with this person through interviews with other people on the team,” Elledge said.
You should also ask questions regarding the company culture, values and mission, and have the interviewers back up those statements with examples to help you verify their validity.
Can You Leverage a Job Offer for a Better Position, Compensation or Benefits?
Let’s say you’ve landed a job offer with better pay and benefits, but you’re having second thoughts about handing in your resignation. Can you leverage the job offer for a higher salary or a promotion?
Both Elledge and Hayashi agree that it’s possible, but they noted you may want to exercise caution while trying to secure a counteroffer. Plus, keep in mind that you have been actively trying to leave your job. Even if you were able to negotiate more money or a higher position, would you end up staying at the company for much longer?
Consider if you would truly be satisfied in your current position if you were awarded your desired compensation, title or benefits. Conversely, you should consider if you’d be OK if your requests aren’t met and you’re forced to resign.
Once you’re comfortable with these potential outcomes, you can definitely present the offer to your manager and explain why you’re considering taking the new position. If you’re an employee in good standing, most companies will make a counteroffer. You might not get a direct salary match or promotion, but they may make other overtures, like a path to promotion, or additional benefits, such as more PTO.
If the counteroffer is not quite what you want, however, it may be time to submit your resignation letter and move on to a different job. After all, a new adventure may be waiting for you.
Access more career advice and learn about the online MS in Human Resource Management program at USC Bovard College today.