Long ago, say in our parents and grandparents generations, it was often the case that people would hold their jobs for decades. Get a job and you’d hold it for life. If you came across someone who had held several jobs over a few years, it was assumed with a high degree of accuracy that the person had issues and the frequent changes was due in large part to their poor performance.
In 2018, things have changed dramatically. People often change jobs now, for reasons of their own choosing or having the unemployment come about for reasons beyond their personal control such as plant relocations, changes in ownership, layoffs, plant closures. While these can be distressing times for the individual worker, the silver lining is that the stigma associated with having several jobs as an adult is gone.
So feeling that leaving one job and taking another is not only more socially acceptable, it may be that you’re developing a mindset that has you restless for a change because you see it going on around you. Not surprisingly, if many of the people you know are changing jobs, you start evaluating your own situation and wonder if you shouldn’t do the same; landing a better job, with better income, closer to home, in a more appealing atmosphere perhaps.
Think carefully. I won’t tell you to jump ship or stay where you are categorically, just think what you’re contemplating through and do your best to make sure that this decision you’re considering is the right one for you.
Much of the time it’s a good thing to have a job to go to before you quit the one you have. The transition from one job to another is smooth, the income steady and if you’re able to create a small window of a couple of weeks, you can treat the gap as a holiday. The real benefit of a short gap between jobs is actually what will be going on between your ears; a mental readjustment period mixed with closure, release, anticipation and readiness for what’s coming. Go to a new job with zero days off and for some, the change is overwhelming and unexpected pressures can result in illness or being less than your best.
One concern that I want to point out is something you can’t control. There is a tendency with some organizations to go through the hiring process on an ongoing basis. Some industries and specific employers in those industries hire and terminate with regularity; people don’t typically stay long and the turnover rates escalate. I know of many people who left a secure job in the belief the job they moved to was better and would last for a long time and found themselves laid-off after just a few months, or their hours reduced significantly. In such cases, they’d rather have stayed in their first jobs, but hindsight is 20/20.
It really depends on you and what you need from a job to be happy – however you define happiness. While a higher income might be on your list, it may not be the number one thing you’re after. Greater flexibility of hours, more autonomy, opportunities to lead, the challenge of a small startup company or the chance to move within a large organization could be the attraction. Maybe you want more stimulation, challenge, or less pressure, a shorter commute, a better benefit package. A better job takes on all kinds of looks to different people and at different times in one’s life.
So you make a decision to move on. Now the question is do you or don’t you let your current employer know you’re looking, and how do you do it so you leave on your timetable, and not have unemployment unexpectedly thrust upon you. Well know your company and the impact of your departure on them. If you hold down a key role and your departure is going to have a seismic explosion, lots of notice and succession planning would be likely expected and greatly appreciated. If you’re on the front-line and have only been employed for a few weeks or a month or two, your announcement might not even create much of a ripple. Look at things objectively and your position is one easily replaced with a minimum of disruption.
Usually the goal is to move on in such a way that you leave with the best reference possible, maintaining the relationship of having been a good employee with a good organization to have worked for. Life after all is ironic from time-to-time and you might find yourself wanting back in with this same employer you’re planning on walking away from at this time.
Now despite the obvious appeal of having a job to go to before you quit the one you have now, there are benefits in walking away so you can look for something new. You might need that mental break if the job you’ve got now has become extremely stressful, causing you sleepless nights and unusual anxiety. Walking away so you can actually think clearly about what to do next might be good advice for you personally. Yes, you might quit one day and give yourself a month without even looking to mentally transition from what was to what might be.
Don’t wait too long however. Update the résumé now. You won’t want a gap in employment, outdated experience and aging references to hold you back.