This is not an easy topic to address, especially when you are at the very beginning of your professional life. A friend recently asked me: what are the “right” reasons for resigning? What is, so to speak, the line that should not be crossed when you are unhappy at work? When is it finally time to resign? I share my take on the subject based on my own experience.
But first, let’s discuss the perception of the act of resigning.
Resigning : a whim or lack of combativity
Is it just a whim because the person was not getting the satisfaction she wanted fast enough? Or even worse, a sign of weakness because she didn’t have the nerves required for this job? Resigning is often regarded as giving up and therefore, has a very pejorative connotation. It is difficult to understand what can push a person to resign when, on the surface, everything seems to be going well. Each individual is different, and one can frequently see only a tiny part of the iceberg and the reasons behind that decision.
The fear of making the wrong decision
Taking the time to reflect on the deep roots of one’s ill-being is essential. It is crucial to ensure not to act based on emotion after a bad day, for example. In my opinion, having the feeling to get in a boxing ring every time you go to work is not ideal, and is rarely a positive stimulus. Nevertheless, the fear of taking things too seriously and exaggerating the situation prevents one from realizing it.
First of all, you must realize that resigning does not consist into a single act fixed in time. It’s actually a process and a wake-up call. You’ll develop a mindset that is healthy to adopt throughout your career. In order to make this process soft and effective, the pieces of advice I give you, are as follows.
It is not the end of the world
I think it’s important to demystify that word. A resignation is, of course, the end of something but it is also the opportunity to broaden the field of possibilities. Know that you are not the first, and will probably not be the last, to aspire to a professional change in your career. At the end of your studies, having little or no experience, you don’t know yourself enough to choose with certainty the job that suits you the best. So don’t blame yourself if your early experiences aren’t as fulfilling as you hoped.
Focus on yourself
Maybe you started this job knowing deep down that it wasn’t the right one for you. Or, the routine might has taken hold and it doesn’t give you the same satisfaction anymore. Either way, it’s time to do some introspection and think about what you really want. Getting to know yourself will be the key to making sure you don’t have any regrets, no matter what decision you make. This will then give you a solid foundation when you are faced with a choice that will determine the rest of your journey.
Have a plan
Instead of rehashing all the frustrations you’ve experienced and blaming yourself for not reacting sooner, take a sheet, a pen and put on paper what you want from your future job: tasks, working environment, possibility of internal or even international mobility, what you would like to feel when you go to work and so on. Compare this list to your current situation and check the points you would like to improve. This will allow you to realize that everything wasn’t so terrible. It will also be useful to you, in order to speak with your employer with calm and discernment. You could afterwards figure out what you can change or improve in your daily life.
Now that you know what you want (and no longer want) it’s time to take action. You have discussed with your manager and the right people but, unfortunately you see no other way out. Two possibilities: either you start your job search, while taking into account that you will certainly have to respect a prior notice period. Or, you hand in your resignation letter and decide to focus entirely on your job search. Your decision will depend on your personal situation and how you operate.
In the first case, you will have to continue your missions and remain a serious and committed employee. I insist on this last point. Ensuring that the person who succeed you will have all the keys, keeping a good relationship with your colleagues and manager is part of your duties. It is also a proof of maturity and loyalty to your current employer. This mentality will serve you well throughout your career. A letter of recommendation may also be useful in your search, which is not to be neglected. The main discomfort will be finding the energy needed for a job search that will require time and motivation: writing applications and going to interviews are not easy when you have a full-time job at the same time.
In the second case, you have the opportunity to leave your job quickly and start your research. You will hence have plenty of time and motivation. Then, begins a period of unemployment which can be more or less long and stressful. The trap is to get caught in the inactivity spiral. You feel a void left by this job that you were so eager to leave. Caught up in doubts, you unwittingly bury your head in the sand by always postponing your applications. Your friends and family continue to live a life punctuated by their jobs and you feel left out: being labelled “unemployed” weighs more and more on you. The list that you will have written in the first stage will be of great support to you at this moment, to keep your spirit up and remind you that the best is yet to come.
Do a self-check
You got a new job. Hurray! However, you need to do a regular self-check to make sure it stays in line with your aspirations. You can update your list as your needs evolve and thus, have concrete points to discuss during the meetings with your manager. The goal is to learn from your mistakes and not accepting an offer out of despite. The saying “it’s better to prevent than to cure” applies here. Being proactive will help you anticipate and resolve potential challenges.
If you are starting a new job or thinking about making a career move and resigning, I send you my positive vibes. You will get there! Feel free to share your own experience to help others in the same situation.