How to Quit Your Job: Knowing When to Move On

One of the most important lessons when learning how to quit your job is knowing when to move on from your current job.

Newton's first law of motion says that a body at rest likes to stay at rest. That's why, given a choice between staying with a stagnant job or a dying company and moving on, a lot of us choose to stay. Some of us go so far as to find other jobs internally after the layoff notices come out, or to persuade our bosses that our names should be taken off the hit list. It's important to understand how to quit your job properly, especially when you should move on and when you should stay.

It's not usually a great idea.

Sure, it looks good on paper. You're vested in Global Worldwide's 401(k) plan. You have five weeks of vacation. You don't want to change health plans. You get a good corporate discount on your cell phone. Most of all, you know your way around Global and that makes you valuable. How valuable will you be as a newcomer somewhere else?

Are You in Danger?
You don't want to quit before you're laid off, and you don't want to turn the internal transfer down flat. But analyze your position carefully. Is Global letting people go? Then it's likelier than the average firm to let more people go later. Employers don't lay off employees for fun. There's generally a serious problem.

Often you can tell that your company is failing before the pink slips go out and the security guards appear at the doors. People who leave aren't being replaced. You get a water bottle with the firm's logo instead of a year end bonus. The Christmas party is pot luck. Office supplies are locked up. The trash is picked up less often. Half the lights in the hall are off.

Do your homework. If Global's public, it's easy. Look at the quarterly and annual reports-not the hype but the financials, especially year-to-year comparisons. Track the news and evaluations that come up on financial web sites like Yahoo! Finance and the Motley Fool. If it's not public, you may have to search harder for commentaries in your local newspapers and on Google.

Whatever you do, don't believe anything you hear from official company sources. They may lay off their engineers and sales reps, but the PR people will be the last to go. They'll be churning out optimistic reports until the end.

Carpe Diem
Seize the day. The best time to move is when the word's getting out that Global is vulnerable. You won't have to explain why you want out. One of my former companies-the one that turned out the lights-was below the public radar screen. I reported to a director. He left and wasn't replaced, so I then reported to a vice president. When he left and wasn't replaced, I reported to the CEO, who ignored me and let me interview to my heart's content. I had a hard time answering the question that interviewers invariably asked: "You're reporting to the CEO. Why do you want to leave?"

When your employer's troubles are known, everyone understands why you're on the street. Headhunters call. If they don't, it's easy for you to call them and the same applies with networking contacts. You don't have to risk appearing disloyal, which is sometimes seen as a bad thing even though your employer isn't expected to be loyal to you. Often you can take time off to interview, turn up in a suit in your business-casual workplace without arousing suspicion and line up references among your colleagues. You have to be a little more careful if the news isn't out, but you'll have the advantage of not seeming to be working for a loser.

Why Not Wait?
Say you stay and the company survives. It's different when you've been through a downsizing, or transition or whatever yours is called. Global fired a bunch of your friends and nearly fired you. Can you feel the same about it? Besides, you're now living with the loser image. Certainly a lot of the fun is gone, and a lot of your motivation with it. But it'll be a lot harder to leave in six months or a year. Those references won't be available. The good jobs will have been snapped up by Global refugees.

Longevity in a job used to be a virtue, but no more. In most fields now, if you stay in one place for ten years, people wonder why you didn't get any other offers. And strangely, some of the loser image may stick to you. Global had to downsize, therefore it wasn't successful, therefore the skills you acquired there aren't useful. People who left mainframe computer companies in the -90s ran into that mindset, as did people who left buggy whip companies way back when. The question the interviewers will ask now is, "Why did you stay so long?"

So don't relax in times of corporate stress just because you personally are safe. You're lucky that you can take your time looking and you don't have to grab at the first thing that comes along, but it can't hurt to look. This may be the best time to move to something new and exciting. You can usually negotiate vacation time, and maybe there'll be an even better deal on the cell phone.

Article provided by Homesteader.

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