For a surprising number of men and women the hardest part of taking a new job, no matter how excited they may be about the career opportunity, or even how dissatisfied they may have become with their current job, is going in to the boss’s office to resign. And usually, the longer they have been at their current job the harder it becomes.
I have witnessed this phenomenon ever since I first put out my shingle as a headhunter, of course, but as the job market continues to expand and improve, I am seeing it with increasing frequency. Still makes me scratch my head sometimes, though.
In our executive recruiting firm, The HTW (“Hire to Win”) Group, among the first questions we ask candidates we’re considering presenting to our hiring company clients are those designed to determine why, precisely, they are considering a career change. Predictably, there is a great deal of commonality among the answers we receive.
WHY PEOPLE USUALLY SEEK NEW JOB
Here is just a (paraphrased) sampling of reasons candidates consistently tell us they are seeking new career opportunities . . .
They . . .
- are simply “burned out” on their current job;
- believe their career has definitely “stalled” and that they have continued to labor on in “stable misery” because they felt they had no other choice until the job market improved;
- don’t feel they are being paid what they are worth, considering the contributions they have made, and are continuing to make, to the success of their unit/company;
- don’t seem to be able to work well with their current boss, for a whole variety of reasons that seem to be beyond remedy;
- feel they have little or no opportunity to advance any further with their current employer;
- are still doing the job of two (or more) people, without any apparent end in sight—and for NO additional compensation, responsibility or authority;
- would like to work for a company that more highly values them for their skills, talents and expertise;
- feel their current company doesn’t show enough respect to its employees.
And the list could go on and on, but I am sure that you get the point. Plus, I am equally sure that many of you reading this post can easily relate to some (or all) of the reasons cited, if you have also become dissatisfied with your current job and are considering hunting for a new one.
WHY THE HESITANCY TO RESIGN CURRENT JOB?
It would be logical to assume that, once such dissatisfied candidates have endured the crucible of preparing for, interviewing for, and then successfully landing a new job that at least seems to address their current concerns/complaints, they would literally leap at the chance to resign their current job and move on to a more promising career opportunity. Alas, such is often not the case at all. Some of these same candidates start to waffle at this point, start to get “cold feet.” Why?
Here are just a few of the more common reasons given (again, paraphrased) and how our recruiters usually respond to the candidates who give them:
- I feel like I am abandoning my friends at work, people I’ve worked with for years and with whom I’ve shared both “victories” and defeats” during the tough times.
Our response: Notwithstanding the fact that, with the advent of Facebook and other social media, the noun “friend” seems to have taken on a whole new meaning, most of your fellow employees whom you consider friends are really not that at all. They are merely people you have become friendly with at work! Plus, if you do have true friends at work (and only time will tell if they are genuinely your friends), they won’t feel “abandoned.” To the contrary, they will rejoice with you for your new career opportunity!
- I am really anxious about uprooting my family and moving to (fill-in-the-blank). While the new job seems to be far better than my current job, what if I am wrong?! What if the “grass” really isn’t “greener” on the other side of the fence?! My spouse and I are finding the whole prospect of starting over in my career rather scary.
Our response: All very understandable and very human concerns. Still, consider this: The only way we as humans have ever been able to advance in any meaningful endeavor is when we decided to leave our comfortable, known position and step out on perhaps nothing more than faith to explore new frontiers, new adventures. The same general principle applies to one’s professional career. Also, remember, the only guarantee in life is that there are no guarantees.
- What do I tell my boss if she makes me a counter-offer when I go in to resign? I’m afraid I won’t know what to say, or how to say it, if it happens.
Our response: As the competition for top performers heats up in today’s job market, we are indeed seeing more counter-offers being made by savvy managers. But guess what, usually, if not nearly always, the counter-offer is not intended to benefit the employee. Instead, it’s aimed primarily at providing the manager temporary “cover,” until she has more time to consider how to more effectively deal with an employee whose “loyalty” has come into question, as the result of his/her resigning.
WHO WILL CONTROL YOUR CAREER?
Our default position is that it is rarely in the best interest of an employee to even consider, let alone accept, a counter-offer, once the informed decision to resign for a better career opportunity has been made. For those candidates who do want to seriously consider a counter-offer, we ask them to revisit why they went looking for a new job in the first place. Was it one of the reasons mentioned at the top of this post? Usually. So, first, why did it take a resignation to get the boss to acknowledge and/or address these concerns? Then, what, if anything, can be expected to magically change for the better, if the counter-offer is accepted?
There is no question about it, resigning a current job, no matter how ill-fitted that job may have become for you, no matter how dissatisfied you may be with it, to take advantage of a brand-new career opportunity, can indeed be very scary. After all, to a degree it is somewhat venturing into the realm of the “unknown.” It does have inherent risks that must be carefully weighed before making a final decision. That said, however, if you don’t take full and complete responsibility for nurturing and maintaining your own career, guess what? Someone else will gladly do it for you, and that someone oftentimes is your current boss and the company he/she represents!
Want to learn more about how to resign your current job with class—and without undue stress?—check out Career Stalled? How to Get Your Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job Your Deserve—your DREAM Job!, Skip’s newest book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets Series of Career Development & Management publications.