2021 was the year of quitting your job, it seems. But what happens after, and was it really worth it?
If 2020 was the year of staying put, 2021 certainly made up for it as the year of quitting. Research conducted by Glassdoor revealed that 30% of women surveyed said they had changed jobs since the start of the pandemic, and a study by software provider CIPHR also found that one in three people have retrained for a new career or changed the industry they work in in the last 18 months.
“Over the last year, I’ve certainly had more and more clients who are considering handing their notice in with no new role to go to,” Alice Stapleton, a career change coach, tells Stylist.
“They’ve simply had enough. They want the time to reflect on what they want to do next, and that’s hard to do when they’re working long hours in a role they no longer enjoy.”
Stapleton acknowledges that there are many benefits to taking the plunge. “While it might feel like a risk, with a bit of a plan and some financial back up, this strategy can work well. You are more able to be flexible for interviews, prepare properly and even spend time with the team before accepting a job offer to ensure it’s the right fit for you.”
But as exciting and satisfying as the so-called Great Resignation all sounds, and while there are plenty of success stories to inspire your own career journey, she does recognise the significant drawbacks. “I’ve had clients who have handed their notice in, safe in the knowledge that their savings will see them through till their next job offer, but it’s taken far longer than expected,” she admits. “At the moment, you’re competing with lots of exceptional talent, so even if you have exactly the right experience and background, it might take longer than you thought to secure a new role.”
“If you’re one of the thousands of people who’ve left their jobs in the Great Resignation, you may have already found a great new role, perhaps started your own business, or you’re in the midst of making a career switch. But there are many people who have left their jobs and have unfortunately found that the grass isn’t always greener,” agrees Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of City CV.
Why are so many people quitting their jobs?
“A lot of people I’ve spoken to have quit because they’re fed up of being overworked and under-appreciated, and even under-paid,” shares McLean. “And they’re valid reasons for making a positive change to your career – but quitting somewhat suddenly without giving real thought and effort into improving your current situation or into what you’ll do next has left more than a few people wondering whether they’ve made the right decision. Reality can hit very hard very quickly if you don’t have a solid plan or fall-back option.”
McLean shares that one of her recent clients left a high-powered role at a management consulting firm. “She told me that she quit on a day that she wasn’t feeling great and everything got to her, but that she wishes she’d been more open about how she was feeling with her leadership team. Now, she finds herself looking at roles that don’t excite her in firms that aren’t as proactive when it comes to flexible working – something that’s really important to her.”
How to quit your job the right way
“If you’re thinking of quitting, don’t do it on a whim or in a rage,” advises McLean. “Think everything through carefully, and list out all the possible consequences, both pros and cons. Don’t forget to consider whether there is anything you think you could do to improve your current work situation, whether that’s talking to your manager, putting wellbeing measures in place, taking some time out. Always look into that first.”
What to do if you quit your job and regret it?
“The first thing to do is budget,” says McLean. “Make sure you can afford the cost of living, and maybe let some of the little luxuries go for now until you have a reliable income stream.
“If you’re looking for a similar role to the one you’ve left, see if you can leverage your network to find vacancies and tap them up for recommendations (LinkedIn is great for this). And if you have skills that would transfer into freelance work, it might be worth considering that, or contracting, while you’re looking for a permanent role.”
According to HR and employment law specialists Wilford Smith, if you resign in the heat of the moment and later change your mind, the law sits very much in your favour.
“Provided that there is a clear flashpoint, and the employee can pinpoint an event that led to a resignation being tendered hastily and in response to that event, they will be able to approach their employer as soon as possible and retract that heat of the moment decision. This should not affect any continuity of employment as the employee would not be deemed to have left their employment at any point,” they tell Stylist.
However, if you tender your resignation properly and then regret the decision, the position is slightly different.
“If the employer does not accept the resignation and confirms the same in writing, it is possible for the employee to retract their resignation and the employer should treat this as if the employee has not resigned,” they advise.
“However, if the employer has accepted the resignation, there are no options available to the employee to retract the resignation automatically. Instead, the best approach is to write to your former employer and ask if they would be willing to reconsider your resignation and allow you to continue your employment. Employers have no obligation to accept such a request, but in circumstances where they have not yet recruited a replacement, there will be merit in considering allowing the employee to return.”
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