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Is Time Running Out to Join the Great Resignation?

Eleven things to consider right now.

Key points

  • Employers may soon have more hiring leverage with the risk of a global economic slowdown and continued rising interest rates.
  • Before you decide to leave, know your current market salary. But don't leave for money alone, and make sure you first talk with your boss.
  • Consider the cultural fit at the company; chemistry; turnover; the impact of a downturn; policies, including remote work; and your gut feelings.

This past March, a whopping 4.5 million workers left their jobs, surpassing the previous series high of 4.51 million in November 2021. Last year, approximately 47 million people quit, many in retail and hospitality.

Syda Productions/Dreamstime
Source: Syda Productions/Dreamstime

Things have been rosy lately for the employee side of the equation, and unemployment is low for now. But the pendulum could swing later this year or next. With the risk of a global economic slowdown and continued rising interest rates, employers may soon have more hiring leverage. If you’ve pondered joining the Great Resignation, now may be the time to make some tough decisions.

Here are 11 things to consider before making the switch in the current environment:

1) What is the current market salary for your position? It’s easy to guestimate your worth. But before launching your job search, examine competitive salaries carefully and prepare an analysis to see where you stand. The good news? The ADP Research Institute reported U.S. wage growth for existing job holders at a record 5.9 percent last December compared to the prior year. But those who changed jobs saw an average increase of 8 percent, also a record.

2) Approach your boss if there’s still some hope. If you like most aspects of your job, but those outside, high salaries are calling — talk to your boss. Have solid salary data handy. Be diplomatic and calm; avoid threats to leave, false offers, or being demanding. Let your manager know what you like about the job. Dare to have those tough conversations about your needs: about salary, a promotion, or the nature of the work. You may be able to get at least closer to the dream job you’re seeking.

3) Are you in an untenable job situation? If you’re feeling stuck, ignored, or frustrated and have done what you can, it may be time to move on. Is your job affecting your mental or physical health? Try the litmus test of imagining you’re gone: what would you miss (if anything) or risk losing — versus what you stand to gain? Sometimes you just know it's time for a job change.

4) Ensure the job change meets your long-term goals. Resigning for a change of scenery can be tempting. But it’s worth preparing a “pros and cons” document, making sure the new job is aligned with your long-term career objectives — and the work will be challenging. A move for money alone could be problematic later. On a positive note, many of those who have resigned in 2021 saw job improvements beyond just salary, according to the Pew Research Center.

5) Consider the cultural fit of a new employer. A higher salary and a more lofty title in any environment are always exciting, especially now. But make sure you’re comfortable with the work culture; do your homework; speak to someone you know or trust in the department or company.

6) Try and determine the turnover levels at a prospective employer. If there is a slowdown and layoffs begin to rule the day, you’re more dispensable at a brand-new job than fellow employees with tenure — all things being equal. It’s worthwhile to do some sleuthing and determine if there’s a revolving door present or a history of strong staff retention in the department and company.

7) Find out if a “remote job” will stay that way. Remote work has proven to be a productive work solution, especially in hybrid form for many employers. It’s here to stay. However, make sure you’re aligned with a new employer on whether a full- or part-time “remote” job will remain as such. If unemployment ratchets higher, could your employer change the arrangement? Policies can change, as employment at will still rules. Still, it may be helpful to pursue documentation.

8) How is your industry faring? Are you in a field that’s strong, stable, and viable? How would a potential recession affect your industry? If the new job somehow didn’t last, how easy would it be to land yet another position?

9) What are your gut impressions from the job interview? A hiring manager will be evaluating your every word and action in the interview, but that’s a two-way street. You may have spent a lot of time with HR or your boss’s subordinates or colleagues — but pay close attention to the all-important match with your prospective new manager. Look for signs that are good, bad, and ugly. What is your gut feeling about the position?

10) Have you considered consulting? Finding a better "job" is the common default in the Great Resignation. But if you’ve amassed an impressive career, consider the possibilities of working for several companies via project consulting. It can be a liberating, lucrative path and certainly is a hedge against future company layoffs.

11) How are you going to plan your departure? How you handle your resignation will greatly impact your ability to garner solid references, not to mention your reputation. The network of qualified people in a given city and industry is often a small universe. For example, how often have you connected on LinkedIn and been surprised at the number of mutual connections?

Map out your approach; be helpful; and remain positive, even with co-workers.

Should you now join the ranks of the Great Resignation? That may require some further soul searching. But one thing is clear: now is a great time to make a firm decision.

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