At this point into the pandemic, most of us have heard reference to the “The Great Resignation” dynamic happening in the working world. Essentially, a large number of workers across a variety of industries are beginning to prioritize themselves and their own well-being over their place of employment. As we powered through the darkest days of the pandemic, people began to contemplate their futures, and an estimated 25% of workers have left or considered leaving their roles. Primarily reasons for making this decision include a compensation increase, more flexible work schedule, and better working conditions. For others, it is a simple matter of prioritizing their own well-being and mental health first.
This is leaving a variety of people scrambling to find a green pasture. I get it. After so many months of quarantining, and facing a whole series of challenges in both life and work (we’ve all experienced it differently, but everyone has faced something!!) It could feel incredibly revitalizing to reinvent your life by going somewhere new, especially if a company is coming after you with a big pay increase, a new title, and perhaps the ability to work however you see fit. However, before you pick up a recruiter’s call a couple of things to consider:
Let’s own it; even if your compensation isn’t the primary factor to consider in taking a new job, it plays a pretty significant role. It’s safe to assume most people want to see a steady trajectory in their earning power over time. If your current company isn’t offering you a competitive income, or hasn’t provided you with an increase in the form of consistent raises, perhaps it is time to explore a new role.
The Fine Print: The “war for talent” is real, and there are some companies willing to throw big numbers out to lure you in. Don’t just look at the base salary. Consider healthcare contributions and other pre-tax benefits. Ask about what percentage of the bonus was paid out of the last few years. Ask about the cadence of future increases. And if you are receiving additional compensation, such as equity, and if you are unfamiliar with how it works, ask someone who knows. I can reference so many examples of people who have gone to “the hottest unicorn company out there! We will go public in the next three months and I’m going to be rich!!” That’s the dream for many, but not always the reality. It’s critical to understand the whole package and how it will realistically be paid out before you get mesmerized with big numbers.
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY LEAVING BEHIND?
While we all might get a bit of wanderlust at work sometimes, consider if you are contemplating changing jobs because you are running away from something, or running towards something. No role is perfect, but consider the reasons you are leaving (think toxic culture, going back to school, career advancement you can’t get otherwise) vs. why you might stay (healthy culture, you are fairly rewarded for the impact you make, fantastic collaboration with team and co-workers). If you can lay it all out, the right answer should become fairly clear.
The Fine Print: Changing jobs, even one you are excited about, can cause tremendous stress. You have to reinvent your reputation with a new team of people who don’t know you. You have to prove yourself. You have to manage within a new culture and set of expectations. Sometimes, we just need a change in life. However, really understanding what you are walking into, and how it will differ from your current role just may cause you to pause and consider if the change is worth it.
DOES THE CULTURE SUIT YOU?
In today’s world, every company will tout its fantastic culture. The question is, how do you truly get to understand what it’s really like to work there far beyond the hype. Maybe you are excited about their Future of Work strategy (e.g. remote first, work from anywhere!) but make sure to probe on how that model will work to support your career desires. In this particular example, perhaps you are excited about the thought of no commute and massive flexibility. However, be sure to inquire about how you will be able to meet and engage with people outside of your team to build cross-functional relationships. Or perhaps what the career development path looks like in this model.
The Fine Print: Ask the tough questions. Probe on their core values, and ask for examples of how it is truly embodied. Ask about the attrition. There are some incredible companies out there, but do your diligence and make sure the environment and culture that are important to you is shared with the company you are considering.
IS THERE ROOM FOR GROWTH?
While no one expects to stay in one company for decades in this day and age, I suspect no one wants to switch jobs every year or so either. Most employees leave when they no longer feel inspired or challenged by their work. Before you jump ship, explore taking on new responsibilities and challenges with your manager. If that is met with dissatisfaction, explore other roles within the company. If you are a great employee, your company would much rather find a new role or explore expanding your current one than risk losing you.
The Fine Print: You have to take some accountability to make this happen; especially in today’s world. With many people still operating behind screens and becoming a little more transactional in their interactions with each other, don’t expect your manager to be a mind reader. Share your goals and aspirations. Ask for a new challenge. Communicate and give them a chance to partner with you before you leave and assume the only option for growth is to go elsewhere.
No company is perfect, but if you are one of the 25% who is actively thinking about moving on to your next gig, I’d advise you to really think through taking a new job hastily. When we are eager for a change in our lives (seriously, who hasn't after the last eighteen months) switching jobs can seem like an obvious choice - especially if we see big dollar signs or titles dangled in front of us. Before you jump, however, contemplate if you’ve truly maxed out your current job. If your company has treated you well (rewarded you fairly, provided opportunities to learn and grow, you work with people you like and trust, etc.) then be honest and have a conversation. No company wants to lose good people; but we all need to speak up to make sure our wants and needs are understood.