The signs of recovery and a return to normal-ish are growing more and more. Vaccines are available. Travel and mask restrictions are lifted. The Foo Fighters played Madison Square Garden in June.
The work front is following suit. Companies that went fully remote during the pandemic are talking about return-to-the-office scenarios. But scores of workers are bidding farewell to or not returning to their jobs. In April, job openings reached 9.3 million, up from 4.6 million a year before. The April’s quit rate — that is, the an employee voluntarily leaving – reached 2.7 percent, a 1.1 increase over the same period of time. If you’re asking “Should I quit my job?” you’re not alone.
Merely hanging on doesn’t feel so essential, so if you’re considering whether to leave your job, it’s not a bad time to look. Especially considering job openings are at an all-time high. Companies are getting out of pure survival mode and starting to spend their hiring budgets. “Things are starting to rev up,” says Nancy Leighton, career counselor in New York City.
But, Leighton adds, things remain in flux, so it’s not the easiest time. The economy isn’t fully back – that April quit rate isn’t close to the 7 percent jump it took from 2017-18 – and companies still aren’t fully back to capacity. On the micro-level, for the last 16 months, you probably haven’t been in the office or around your colleagues. It’s hard to get a true read on any job, both the one you have and any one you’re thinking about, making it difficult to answer the fundamental question: Do you hate your job or do you hate the pandemic?
Before you decide to quit your job, there are questions to ask and scenarios to consider. It’s good to figure out the answer, and the following questions can help.
1. Do you have another job to go to?
The classic advice still holds. Unless the conditions are making you depressed and spilling over into other parts of your life, you don’t leave a job until you have a new one. Short tenures don’t raise concerns, but employment gaps do. Hiring managers will ask why and wonder what’s wrong with you, creating a high hurdle to overcome, says Sheila Nielsen, performance development coach in Chicago and author of Job Quest: How to Become the Insider Who Gets Hired.
2. What do you love and hate?
Rate all the parts of your job; pick the three-five that are great and two-three that you’d change. Your list could include Zoom calls, the inability to travel, no longer being challenged/excited. You can suss out what’s specific to that place, easily replicated somewhere else, and what’s pandemic-specific, and the assessment can help you decide if your situation needs a wholesale change or just some patience, says Helene Maltzman, career counselor and business developer at Jewish Family Service Houston.
3. What are your priorities now?
What made you take this job, be it money or advancement, might not fit your current situation. The pandemic, and life with young kids, could have shifted what you want and don’t want to do at the moment. Nothing you decide has to be forever, so another good question is, “What do you want in the next 1-3 years?” You can get stuck worrying about college savings and this shrinks the timeline down to a non-overwhelming scale, Maltzman says.
4. What’s your history?
Look at all your jobs and write out what you’ve liked and haven’t liked. When you see the details, you’ll get a sense of what’s always motivated you, what you always need to have around, and what you’ve never done well with. You can then evaluate how your current situation matches up. “You’ll see the trendlines,” Nielsen says.
5. What initiative have you taken?
Before you leap, ask if there’s anything you can do to reshape your present, Maltzman says. It might mean asking for new responsibilities, or it could be shifting your attitude or behavior, particularly to a difficult boss or colleague, because those kind of people don’t change. One good move is to request a performance review, something that might have been a pandemic casualty. It’s a way to check-in and see what your future looks like, but, most importantly, it gets you and your boss talking. “Sometimes it’s not the job, but a lack of communication,” Leighton says.
6. Can you get time off?
It’s another kind of initiative. Explain it’s for a family or personal issue, but ask if you can get a break while staying on the company’s website. You keep your presence. i.e. no résumé hole, and have the space to assess your situation. You also get time to look for a job, which isn’t always available while you’re working and taking care of your family, Nielsen says.
7. Can you hold on for two months?
It feels like the pandemic is over, but it’s not, and it can create frustration and lead to hasty decisions, but Nielsen suggests to ask yourself if you can wait 60 days. By early fall, the picture will be clearer, and you can use that time to build up skills or just give your mind a rest from constantly contemplating the future. “Things will get back to a new normal, but we haven’t gotten there yet,” she says.