We’re often told that if you’re a quitter then you stand to lose in life. But when it comes to our careers, we stand to gain a lot from quitting. Moving on from a job can mean the difference between thriving in a new role or letting your mental health suffer. Gone are the days of a job for life, so changing roles has become an inevitable part of the career ladder. Whilst we may not be able to avoid the daunting task of quitting, it’s important to learn how to move on from a job with confidence and integrity.
Who better to learn from than our very own community of job hunters? We’ve been overwhelmed by the response of the If You Could community who have generously shared their experiences and advice on quitting.
Here’s what we learnt:
Leaving a job can sometimes be long overdue
"I worked a job that was gruelling and didn't offer much of a work/life balance. It was one of those jobs where they made you believe that if you weren't all in, you weren't meant for the job. I worked as hard as I could, yet ended up seeing less and less of my family and friends, who noticed I was giving too much time to this job, but I wouldn't hear it.
Eventually the burnout started creeping in and I realised what I was doing. You could essentially just walk out of this job without giving a reason, but I wanted to make my case and explain myself to my boss. When I did, he immediately said, 'So you're giving up.' I explained I wasn't, I was taking a step back, but he flat out continued to accuse me of giving up. I stood my ground, gave my reasons, and walked away feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I didn't have anything lined up afterwards, but I knew that I had to get out of there no matter what. Lord knows what would have happened if I stayed!" @Thisisgemtv
Or when you least expect it
“I quit a job for the first time after 2 years at the company, it was very amicable and I’m still friends with the team there. Little did I know I’d have to quit my job again 2 months later… The new job was not at all what I expected. We had completely different work approaches, it quickly became very stressful and I knew I couldn’t progress within this company. One night, as I was thinking hard about solutions and things I tried at work to ease the stress, I got stuck and thought there was nothing else I could do. I couldn’t sleep, until I said to myself “I’m going to quit” - instant relief! I was still in my probation period, it was now or never. I took the risk, I had some sort of savings and no backup plans, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as the rest of my career was only going to be even better. Bonus: It helped me gain confidence.” @_axellle_
Sometimes it can take a couple of tries to find the right role
“Since graduating in July 2019 I have worked at 5 different companies (I quit 3 times and was made redundant due to COVID once) so I’d say, within this fairly short period I’ve learned quite a bit about quitting. To be honest, I think working is a lot like dating, sometimes it takes a while to find the right place, sometimes you need to get away from someone as quick as possible and sometimes you give it a try before realising it’s not actually working for you — while it’s never a necessarily enjoyable process to quit, or in dating terms, to tell someone your true feelings, I think it’s important to think about yourself and ending a (work-)relationship is sometimes something you have to do — not for anyone but yourself. And also try to end things on good terms, even if you feel different about the situation, it helps — again like dating” @ValentinaStand
It can feel like there’s never a right time to quit
“What I’ve learnt is, there isn’t really ever an ideal time to leave your job and I think that’s what keeps people stuck in roles they are unhappy in for so long. It definitely didn’t look good on paper to be leaving two roles in one year, but I knew it was ultimately the right decision for me.” - Anonymous
“I recently quit my job after going from intern to coordinator, and there's never an easy way out. Especially when you've established strong bonds with your teammates. You never want to feel like you're abandoning them, however if your mind is not aligned with the direction of the company, that usually means you have already abandoned ship. People can read when your mind doesn't agree with your body, so when you try to stretch this working relationship it might start to affect the bonds you've built. What I've learned is that you need to be honest with yourself and understand when it's time to let go. Being sincere with everyone around you will be what makes your network last and make people remember you for the good times.” @Pedroalamorim
But sometimes with good communication you can find the right time
“So I quit my first job after 5 (almost 6 years!) there. We were a really small team, so I knew the impact was going to be big. My gut said to just be upfront with my plans as they started formulating but everyone else’s advice was to just give the minimum notice and ‘look after number one’. Thankfully I ignored them. I sat down with my CD and said I was ready to move on, that I was applying for new roles and didn’t want him to hear from someone else in the industry. It would likely be 3-6 months (I was moving abroad so a slightly longer timeline) but that as soon as I knew something, he would know. We left with mutual respect for each other and a lovely ‘notice period’ with plenty of time for the studio and clients to prepare for me leaving.
So my advice would be if your heart is saying something that’s different to your contractual obligation, then go with it. You know your superiors well enough, and have a good read on their reaction or the courtesy they’d like. Plus the industry is small! Leaving somewhere is just as important as arriving somewhere.” @Katiecad4
Be honest with your boss. You never know when you’ll cross paths again
“Always quit in person, and face to face. If that’s not possible, make a phone call. Don’t just email, it looks shady. Have a conversation with your manager or employer if you feel like it’s time to part ways. Quite often, you’ll both know the time is coming. And you can often work out the best solution. Having honest conversations paves the way for understanding and positive future relations. You never know when your paths will cross again” Gemma Stokes from @podengoteam
“The best thing to do is to be honest and say why you are leaving but be polite, you never know the network that your boss can cover and if in the future you can call on them to help you contact someone in particular.” @Angelaquehaces
Don’t let your mental health suffer for the wrong job
“The faster we realise our workplace is toxic, the faster we can get out of there. I believe it is better to start over, find a different workplace where management will appreciate your work and motivate us on a daily basis! If you feel burnt out and don't have any more joy from coming to work everyday just quit. Take a break, as much as you need (or can afford). And start over. You can always get a temporary job that is lower than your qualifications. Take a step back if you need to.” Anonymous
“I quit and went on universal credit while applying for new jobs. I would offer that advice to anyone thinking about quitting and urge them to just do it - a job, while important to pay the bills and to earn a living, isn’t worth sacrificing your mental or physical health for!” @LauzPhill
Know your rights
“My new line manager ignored my request for flexible working after maternity leave I decided to quit. They went on to ignore my resignation as well, until I cc’ed their boss in. My advice (especially for mums) is, learn about your rights beforehand. Look at maternity and flexible working policies. I only found out later if my boss had ignored my request for 3 months I would’ve had a case. But the attitude made me 100% confident I did the right thing, as it’s a scary prospect I had nothing else lined up. I started freelancing and I never looked back. My terms, my hours, better work life balance.” @Luana_Thomas_Creative
Remember that preparation is key
“Make sure you are planned.. I spent 6 months devising an exit strategy and saving money in the months leading up to the resignation so that I was in a comfortable position to explore new opportunities and didn’t need to rush into a job which was potentially wrong for me. Even though I was angry at the situation, by not acting impulsively, I was able to leave on neutral grounds without leaving a negative lasting impression.” Anonymous
Try to find a better job before you leave your current one
“I wanted my next job to be something I was really sure to love and to be fulfilled with. I think it’s important to make sure your next move isn’t just a quick exit door because this won’t work long term. That has probably to be my biggest advice / don’t rush things, stay calm, and work on your options. Don’t take any other job just to escape from the one that doesn’t fulfil you, and really weigh the pros and cons for each. I’ve changed jobs a week ago, and yes it’s stressful but when it’s the right thing to do you’ll know.” @StevenStorm_
We haven’t been able to include everyone’s submissions this time, but thank you to everyone who shared their experiences with us. Let us know what theme you’d like us to explore next, get in touch with our community manager at email@example.com