We’ve seen remarkable shifts in the way we think, live, and work since March 2020. In fact, so many people quit their jobs in the wake of the pandemic, you might even say it’s all the rage.
It’s even got a title, brand new real estate in the urban dictionary, and a massive following that’s sent ripples through every industry in every part of the world.
Having been forced into new ways of doing just about everything, many of us have reassessed and rearranged our working conditions, personal goals, and lifestyle to accommodate. In many cases, the changes we were forced to accept were inconvenient (to say the least), leading many to quit their jobs in favor of something more sustainable, controllable. Satisfying, even.
And the trend continues. Companies recently started to encourage their employees to come back to the office, but many decided to use that moment as an opportunity to move on. As a result, we’re in the midst of a global labor shortage, and it’s not because there aren’t any people to do the jobs; they’re just choosing to do something else. On their own terms.
Who knew it would take a global crisis to bring us that much closer to our dreams? No matter how it happened or where you ended up, this is where we’re at right now.
If you’re considering joining the Great Resignation and starting your own business, just know that there’s a right way to go about it. Like any major career move, you need to approach the matter thoughtfully. Going off like a firecracker might give you a sweet rush at the beginning, but if you want the goodness to last, a little planning is in order.
How to do the Great Resignation right
According to the latest data from the U.S. Labor Department, 2.9% of U.S. workers quit their jobs in August of this year. That’s approximately 4.3 million employees leaving the workforce—the highest number on record in American history.
Recent data from Microsoft also shows that as many as 54% of workers are considering leaving their jobs. Stated reasons include health and safety concerns, vaccine mandates, familial obligations, or because they’ve realized that there might never be a better time to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. A similar report from Joblist showed that number much higher, at around 73%.
That’s a lot of people. Maybe you’re one of them. And perhaps you have a plan. But if you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve got some points to consider.
What you should know before you quit your job
Here are a few points to consider before you join the Great Resignation and march confidently into your future.
1. Think hard about whether quitting is the right decision for you
Ultimately, you’ll know in your heart that it’s time for a change. But with a decision so monumental, you need to consider every angle to be sure you’re not acting rashly.
Ponder these questions for a moment or two:
- Do I generally enjoy working for my company?
- Are my skills being valued and utilized adequately?
- Will this job and company give me the future I want for myself?
If you answered no to any (or all) of these questions, you might be ripe for the Great Resignation. However, if you go deep and realize the job isn’t the issue or that it’s a situation that can change if you want it to, perhaps you’re not quite there yet.
2. What changes do you want to manifest?
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Leaving your job is a big decision, but it’s good to have some idea of what comes next. The journey is always more enjoyable (and direct) if you have a destination.
Think about what you’d like to change, from your industry to the type of role you want, your needs for work-life balance, and whether you’ll stay in your current city or consider a move.
Do you think freelancing or starting your own business might be right for you? Do you see yourself running a local business? Becoming a consultant to help other companies? Or do you prefer to work for a company and be part of a team?
If you choose the entrepreneurial or freelancing route, be sure to check out our tips and resources to help you get started. If a new job is more in line with your current mindset, be sure you’re making good on your wish list before you move on.
3. How to quit gracefully
Having come this far, if you’re still dead-set on leaving, be sure you do it the right way. No matter how disenchanted you are with your current position, how you part ways will have a bearing on your professional image.
Here is a list of job quitting dos and don'ts:
- DON’T tell your colleagues you’re quitting before you talk to your boss. If word gets back to them before you’ve either spoken to them (see #4 above) or handed in your resignation, it does not reflect well on you.
- DO give them plenty of notice. Two weeks is standard for most jobs, but if you’re in management, you should consider extending your notice to three weeks, or even a month. Ideally, you’ll want to give them enough time to either find a replacement or re-jig the workload so the transition doesn’t cause too much disruption.
- DO ask for a reference or letter of recommendation. A good relationship with your former employers reflects well on you for all future opportunities.
- DON’T burn any bridges. Even if there were hurt feelings and questionable circumstances, it’s not worth it to burn it all down. You never know when you’ll need to do business with these folks in the future. If you become a consultant, you might even have occasion to work with them again, so keep it civil and do everything you can to maintain good terms.
- DO let your manager know as soon as possible. If you’re the non-confrontational sort, think about getting it over with sooner rather than later. You want to give them as much notice as possible so they can do what they need to do.
- DO keep it light and positive. Focus on your future and career goals, and don’t point fingers at colleagues or situations that you’ve come to resent. Even if these issues were catalysts for your decision, jumping on the negatives will taint even the most solid working relationships—and they’ll make the transition much more challenging.
- DO reinforce and solidify relationships with your colleagues and coworkers. If you’re comfortable sharing your personal contact info, ask them to stay in touch and maybe set up a time to get together occasionally. Just because you’re changing jobs or moving on doesn’t mean you have to cut anyone off.
- DON’T talk badly about your (soon-to-be) former employer on social media or among your work colleagues. Behavior like this tends to make the rounds quickly, and it paints you in a negative light—especially to a prospective employer, who might assume you’ll take the same attitude towards them.
4. Moving on: painting new horizons
By now, let’s assume you’ve thought carefully about your next chapter. You’re clear about your choices, why you’re moving on, and what you hope to achieve once your job is in the rear-view. You know your value, and you’re ready to take a giant step towards a long-cherished goal.
Perhaps it’s about time to start your own business! If it’s a new idea, test the waters with a proof of concept. Do your due diligence, talk to people who have succeeded in the niche, and get ready to put your nose to the grindstone.
Keep in mind, too, that maybe you don’t have to quit your job right away. Keeping your gig while you launch your master plan gives you a bit of a safety net in case you need to course-correct. Then, when you’re ready, you’ll have the confidence you’ll need to succeed.
Is it another job? A better job or company? Better compensation? Brighter prospects? Take your time to evaluate your “why” and make sure you can articulate what’s so much better about your new direction.
From uncertainty to opportunity
There’s little doubt about it. If not for the pandemic and the changes that COVID ushered in, the Great Resignation would probably not have come to pass. The uncertainty played havoc with our lives and livelihoods, decimated entire industries, and created new ones.
Some say that most of the changes we’ve seen and experienced would have happened eventually, and that’s probably true. But what it’s done to our personal and working lives—well, that’s another story.
We all see and respond to the shift in different ways. That many have chosen to ride the monster wave in search of new shorelines is no surprise. Living in a constant state of uncertainty is not a constructive use of our time and energy. Humans are creative and resilient, and it could even be said that we thrive on adversity. Thus, ours is the era of the Great Resignation.
Where will the journey take you?
Are you ready for the monumental changes the Great Resignation will bring? If you’re thinking about starting your own business, take advantage of these tips and resources to help you get started quickly. We’re a passionate group of driven individuals—just like you—and we’re always stronger together.