- There’s a “Great Resignation” of people leaving long-term roles to find something more satisfying.
- But quitting a stable job has obvious risks.
- Career experts share with Insider five things to think about before making the jump.
People are having “pandemic epiphanies” about their work and identities, according to the professor credited with coining the term the “Great Resignation” to describe the exodus from stable jobs in favor of something new.
In Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index survey of 31,092 full-time and self-employed workers in 31 countries, more than 40% of respondents said they were considering quitting their jobs in 2021.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that 4 million Americans made their moves in July alone. A Prudential survey of 2,000 Americans who self-identified as full-time workers found that 26% of respondents said they were planning to change jobs. In the UK and Ireland, that number was 38% in Personio’s survey of 2,002 workers in the countries.
Insider asked three career experts to weigh in on what people should consider before quitting their jobs with no further plans.
Ask yourself hard questions about why you want to quit
Lily Valentin, the head of North America operations at Adzuna, an online job board, told Insider people must ask themselves hard questions.
“Have you had the difficult conversations internally to try to rectify what you currently don’t like about your role, and also assessed whether or not your dissatisfaction comes out of natural burnout?” she said.
If it’s clear that the job itself is the issue, Valentin suggests listing all of your skills to see how they can transfer to a different role and what skill gaps you might have.
“The skills that you’ve developed working 10 years in retail actually transfer very well into hospitality or maybe office management,” she said.
Do your research to know how long you can go unemployed for
Valentin added that depending on individual situations, it was important to plan ahead for not only financials but also necessities such as healthcare coverage, if you’re in the US, and sponsored visas, if you’re working abroad.
“Figure out how long you can actually go unemployed for if you quit your job tomorrow,” she said, adding: “Can you afford to lose benefits? For how long can you go without coverage?”
Once you’ve identified the transferable skills and roles that are of interest, Valentin advised researching demand and people in the industry.
Determine how sought-after that role is by checking the vacancies in your area and looking at people’s LinkedIn profiles to see what qualifications they have. Would you be able to start working right away, or do you need to take courses and build out your résumé?
If you’re pondering a career shift, try out the new profession to be sure you are prepared for the shift
Billy Clark, a coauthor of “The Little Book to Land Your Dream Job,” recommended trying to find freelance work in the prospective new profession for six months when thinking about a career pivot to make sure it’s a good fit.
If you’re considering a creative role, such as writing, Clark said freelancing and collaborating with other writers in your spare time was a good start.
When changing careers at an older age, Clark added, it’s crucial to be prepared to get a lower-level role and have younger coworkers.
“Getting over that mental hurdle is half the battle, but once you’re in it, you typically tend to expedite the process because you do have previous life experience,” he added.
Quit as amicably as you can
Clark added that 99% of the time prospective employers wouldn’t contact current employers for a reference — but only because the candidates are usually still gainfully employed.
If someone is unemployed, that reference becomes much more important for the employer, he added.
“This is really important when you do extricate, you do it professionally, amicably, and leave a good taste in everyone’s mouth so that when people do have those conversations, they’re speaking well on your behalf,” Clark said.
Jane Oates, the president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit campaign to tackle the US unemployment crisis, told Insider leaving amicably was essential.
“Don’t be negative. Don’t tear down the job as you’re leaving because … you are very likely to meet the person you just insulted again,” she said.
Tell a positive story about why you quit
Oates added that a positive narrative around your exit was important. It not only serves candidates in interviews but also improves the chances of finding the right people while networking.
“A lot of people aren’t willing to make a recommendation if they think you’re not going to be serious about it,” she said. “The more specific you can be with people when you’re networking with them, the more likely you are to be successful.”
Clark said it was acceptable to have a gap in one’s résumé but added that it was crucial to outline your legitimate reasons for leaving in any job interviews to show that it wasn’t because you simply didn’t want to work.
“It’s totally fine to have that gap, but it can get a little more complicated the longer it goes on,” he added.