In today’s labor market, more people are asking how to seek a raise, how to handle burnout and — increasingly — how to quit.
In fact, searches about resigning are at a 10-year high, according to Google data provided to The Washington Post. Among the top 10 searches related to resigning, the majority are about the ins and outs of leaving a job.
The trending interest in quitting is no surprise amid the “Great Resignation,” a wave of employees who’ve chosen to leave their jobs. A record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September, many in pursuit of more meaningful careers or better compensation. Others sought work-life balance after the coronavirus pandemic left people feeling burned out.
Health care workers, strained by more than 20 months of the crisis, are quitting at their highest rates on record, according to Labor Department data going back to 2000. Lower-wage service workers have headed for the exits at even higher rates. Workers in arts, entertainment and recreation are quitting at almost double their pre-pandemic level, a record for that group, and workers at hotels, restaurants and bars are quitting at the highest rate ever recorded for any industry for which comparable numbers are available.
An analysis of Labor Department data showed that an unusually large and growing share of workers under age 25 were leaving their jobs, even before they had new work lined up.
With some workers feeling on edge, wondering how to leave their jobs, The Post asked labor experts about this topic and sought their advice. Before committing to resigning, there are a few things to reconsider. Here are four topics to consider:
Do you really need to resign?
Before departing your post, consider whether you really need to resign in order to address the issue or issues that make you want to quit.
Employees may underestimate how flexible their bosses or workplaces could be to accommodate their needs, said Tami Simon, who advises companies as the global consulting business leader at Segal, a benefits and human resources consulting firm. Simon says employers she’s worked with have tried to offer greater physical, mental and financial support to retain their workforce.
“At the end of the day, asking oneself not just what isn’t making you happy but what would make you happy is a healthy exercise,” Simon said.
Simon recommends digging your original offer letter out of the filing cabinet or inbox to remind yourself of your contractual obligations. Did you sign a noncompete agreement? Will you lose a bonus if you go?
She said workers should also look at their compensation agreements and benefits to make sure they know what they’re relinquishing.
Consider how to notify your boss
If you plan to leave, don’t tell your co-workers just yet.
Your manager should be the first to find out about your resignation to avoid bungling your relationship with the workplace. Even if your boss is the reason you want to quit, providing the courtesy of first notice gives your employer the chance to figure out how the rest of the organization will find out — and improves your chance of getting a positive reference for prospective employers.
Keep it short and sweet
Sometimes, less is more.
In a resignation letter, you are not required to tell your employer what you’re doing after you leave the company or why you’re moving on — simply your name, a sentence that you’re resigning and your intended last day should suffice.
Airing grievances could backfire, warned J.T. O’Donnell, a former HR executive and CEO of Work It Daily, a career coaching service.
When people feel frustrated with pay and working conditions, some express their dissatisfaction in unprofessional ways as they dangle one foot out the door, said O’Donnell, who has over 1 million followers on her TikTok career coaching account.
Her viewers have shared stories of texting their resignations or ghosting their employers entirely. Stories of awkward resignations have become national headlines. In one viral instance, workers at a McDonald’s in Nebraska shared their employment status on the marquee outside the restaurant: “WE ALL QUIT SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.”
But there could be ramifications. Prospective employers could call to ask questions, including whether the prior workplace has written you off as a potential rehire.
“Your reasons for leaving are personal but not unique,” O’Donnell said. “Everyone who worked through the pandemic is feeling a level of anxiety and depression. There’s a collective stuck going on.”
Offer to help with the transition
The age-old adage is to give two weeks’ notice.
Depending on the level of your job, more time may be necessary to transition your successor effectively.
O’Donnell recommends having that conversation with your manager to figure out how you can accommodate with your schedule. Offering extra help with the transition, including providing a document to guide your replacement, is one way to ensure you leave on a positive note.
“Take the high road,” O’Donnell said. “Because reference checks will come back to get you, five, 10, 15 years later.”