You landed your first job out of the military and aren't exactly happy with the fit, people, culture, or the work. Guess what? You're a civilian now and you have different options. After years of having to wait for a PCS (yours, a bad boss’ or coworker’s) to get a change, now if you aren’t happy you can quit. That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to quit a job. For example, you shouldn't just ghost your job, or storm out of the offices in a blaze of expletives. Follow these guidelines for changing jobs without burning bridges or hurting your resume.
1. Isolate the problem
Be honest with yourself. If your skills are lacking and that is creating problems and low job performance, maybe some training would help. Did you oversell your skills when interviewing? Did you jump too quickly at the first job offer you received? That still doesn’t mean you made a mistake. Consider where the problem lies. Understanding the cause of your unhappiness may make your current position better or save you from similar problems in your next job.
2. Consider changing your situation without quitting
Is your immediate supervisor the problem? Does the team not align with your work style? Or, is it the company as a whole that disappoints or frustrates you? Can you change departments? Can you make it your mission to improve overall culture? If you see no options within the company, at least you can say you tried at your next interview.
3. Can HR solve your problem?
If you are quitting because of harassment or another problem that is against the law or company policy, consider discussing the problem with the human resources department first. You might get a positive result and even if they aren’t willing to resolve the problem with you, you can leave knowing you advocated for yourself.
4. Check your contract or agreement before talking to a competitor
Can you take the contacts you made through the job with you? Are you able to work for a competitor or do you have a no-compete clause? Double checking what you signed on for will help you avoid surprises and make a smooth transition.
5. Timing is everything
Companies understand that workers leave jobs, but are you seeking to quit in the middle of a big project or when staff is already stretched thin? If you can see the project or situation through before leaving. Afterward, you might find the stressful situation is now normalized and work conditions are improved. Also, if you seek a recommendation from your current employer, consider the timing of your departure and how it will set the tone for the future.
6. Job hunt after hours
Before you update your resume, scour LinkedIn and initiate contact with referral sources and references, remind yourself that when you’re at work someone is paying you for your time there. Do these activities on your lunch break or after hours.
7. Don’t tip your hand on social media
By all means, resist venting on social media about your current employer. While it might feel like a safe place to share frustrations or alert your network of your intentions to find another job, information online is not private and can easily be shared with your current boss. If you absolutely must start getting the word out about your job search, use discrete communications methods, such as direct messaging, to contact people that may be able to help you with your job search.
8. Know what you have coming to you (and what you’ll have to give back)
Have you accrued Paid Time Off (PTO)? You may be owed part or all of those monies when leave. Did you receive a hiring bonus or moving expenses that you may have to repay if you quit within a certain time frame? Know what you have to work with as you plan your departure.
9. Give proper notice
No employer appreciates a sudden exit from a key employee. It often leaves the team, projects and others shorthanded. If you can, offer at least two weeks’ notice to help transition your work to someone else. If you received special training, however, offer to train a temporary replacement.
Know that your company may not want you to stay the two weeks and instead may just want you to stop working immediately, so make sure you are prepared to gather your personal belongings quickly in case this happens.
10. Have another job lined up
Employment gaps can be a red flag for your next potential employer, so if you can, stick it out in until you have another job lined up before you quit.
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