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Don’t Quit Your Job Before Asking Yourself These Questions

Executive Summary

If you’re thinking about quitting your job, first do a quick analysis. Is the organization you work for the source of your concern? Then, you might look for a similar job with another employer. Is the job the problem? Then, you should consider making a move within your company before you decide to leave. And, finally, are you prepared to make your next move? Build your personal career assets to position your career for the future.

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Is it time to quit my job? This is a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another. Most people wait until they feel they must leave their job or organization, and that puts them at a disadvantage. They might end up choosing an “exit job” rather than the right next career step.

Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, be proactive and take the opportunity, at least once a year, to evaluate your organization and your position in it, along with your personal career assets. The three questions below should help you assess where you stand.

Are you working for the right organization?

Make sure you don’t passively ride downhill with an organization in trouble. Here are seven signs that should concern you:

  • A merger, acquisition, or change of control has taken place, and you are not a part of the new changes.
  • Management is criticized again and again in the business press.
  • The organization does not invest in new products or services and chooses to focus on old ways of doing things.
  • People you respect are leaving the company.
  • Profits are down, or if it’s a nonprofit, contributions are down.
  • Outsiders are hired into management positions and begin to bring their own friends.
  • Cost-cutting measures are implemented with little notice or rationale.

If four or five of these signs are true for your organization, take a critical look at it. Talk to the people you know who have left the company. Look it up in the business press. Is it an organization in trouble? There are times when you might want to choose to work for an organization in trouble, but only if there is a career advantage — like being part of the turnaround team or learning an important new skill.

Are you in the right position?

It might have been a great job for you last year, but is it still? A great job is one that helps you grow and learn. It’s one in which the people recognize you for the job you are doing, and a lot of what you’re working on is exciting and rewarding. As soon as you start thinking that the political part of your job is more important than the work you are doing, take a closer look at your position. The following seven signs will help you see the risks:

  • Your bonuses or raises are no longer above average.
  • Your boss circumvents you and deals directly with your subordinates or peers.
  • You are no longer invited to important meetings or to go out to lunch with colleagues.
  • You are doing things you disagree with, or you believe you have to conceal what you really think.
  • You’re making dumb mistakes all the time and can’t figure out why they are happening.
  • Your mentors have left the organization or fallen into disfavor.
  • You can no longer predict promotions or who will be seen as a top performer.

If your organization is a great one, and your job isn’t working for you, look to find another position in another part of your company. The people who can help you most are those who have recently moved within the organization or those whose positions span more than one business area — like auditing or human resources. Otherwise, time to tune up your resume. Don’t get hung up on whose “fault” it is; if it’s time to leave, it’s time to leave.

How are you positioned for your future career?

Unlike the first two questions that focus on the possible risks or liabilities in your current employer and job, this last question gives you a chance to see your situation from the other side of the balance sheet. Review your personal career assets. Are these statements true for you?

  • You have a good reputation both inside your organization and outside in your profession.
  • People call you for help and advice, and you try to help them.
  • You know what you want to learn next and have spent your own money to enhance your career or expand your knowledge in the last year.
  • You know what the hot topics are in your field.
  • You know what the next technical challenge will be in your field.
  • You have a set of professional contacts you can call on for help or support.
  • You volunteer your time in a number of ways.

If you can say “yes” to five or six of the seven statements above, you don’t have to worry. You are well positioned to manage your career. Your personal assets will help balance the liabilities of your current job or employer. If you didn’t score well on this list, you can easily change things. Just begin doing what’s described in the seven statements. Start by contributing to your colleagues, community, and profession, and your professional network — and reputation — will expand with it.

So, if you’re thinking about quitting your job, do a quick analysis. Is the organization you work for the source of your concern? Then, you might look for a similar job with another employer. Is the job the problem? Then, you should consider making a move within your company before you decide to leave. And, finally, are you prepared to make your next move? Build your personal career assets to position your career for the future.

Source: HBR.org

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What to Do If You Think Your Job Is at Risk

Executive Summary

Unwanted job changes are a fact of life, albeit a difficult one. Staying attuned to the warning signs — and planning what-if scenarios in case you’re let go — will enable you to remain more flexible, resilient, and in control of your career destiny. The author recommends four steps to take if you think your job might be at risk: 1) Cultivate a broad network. When you take the time to make and maintain relationships before you’re in a career crisis, you have the opportunity to show people how passionate you are about what you do and reveal your capabilities from a place of job stability. 2) Seek advice. Assemble a personal board of directors who can help you evaluate your career options. 3) Conduct a financial wellness check. This will give you a clear understanding of how much money you will need to support yourself through a transition period. 4) Update your branding by revamping your resume and LinkedIn profile.

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Your job may be in jeopardy for a variety of reasons — some under your control, others not. Regardless, it’s critical to recognize the signs that things are going wrong before it’s too late. Being aware of the key red flags will ensure you aren’t caught off guard and give you the chance to both navigate the situation and be prepared if the worst does happen.

The indignity of being let go is, of course, difficult. However, when I talk to executive coaching clients who have been recently laid off, I find that what hits them harder than anything else is the lack of control they feel over this critical career decision. If your organization is downsizing or you sense your job may be at risk, the sooner you can claim agency over some part of the process, the better you’ll feel and the faster you’ll be able to transition to a new company. The question is: If you do find yourself in this situation, will you be able to take the proactive steps needed to engage in an effective job search despite the stress and challenges inherent in being laid off or fired?

Here are the suggestions I made to a client — let’s call her Jillian — when she learned that her position was being eliminated due to a merger.

Cultivate a broad network

The single biggest mistake my laid-off clients have made is failing to cultivate their network while they still employed. As a result, they have had to painstakingly reinvigorate those connections while under pressure to find new jobs — suboptimal timing, to say the least. Fortunately for Jillian, she had maintained a strong network, finding time in her schedule to reconnect with people she hadn’t seen in a while, rather than letting those relationships languish.

To understand what skills will be required three, four, and five years from now in your industry, it’s imperative to build a network both inside and outside your organization, which will help you gain visibility into areas to which you might otherwise not be exposed. Tap professional organizations, mentoring circles, and conferences, all of which offer the opportunity to meet new people and stretch your thinking. Marketing strategist Dorie Clark explains that because traditional linear career paths have become much less common, it’s important “to take a detective-like approach, investigating and vetting opportunities.”

When you build your network before you’re in crisis, you can show people how passionate you are about what you do and reveal your capabilities from a place of job stability. You might also learn about skills you will eventually need to future-proof your career. If you make a good impression and nurture those relationships, you’ll be top of mind when your connections (or others they know) need your service.

Seek advice

When you’re in a vulnerable position, with your job at risk, clear thinking tends to go out the window. What you need more than ever is the support of people who can provide solid, trustworthy advice about your career options. This is where that broad network you cultivated can come in handy. From it, you can assemble a smaller personal board of directors to advise you. Ask yourself what your professional goals are now and what information and help you’ll need to reach those goals.

For example, Jillian was hoping to leverage her 20 years of experience in biopharmaceutical sales and marketing — as well as her expertise in launch planning, product strategy, and commercial leadership — to springboard into a chief commercial officer role, preferably in the field of gene therapy. I advised her to talk to her contacts before applying for open positions, so that she could broaden her understanding of the critical business issues facing startup biotechs, identify potential gaps in her skill set, and boost her brand before the official job search began. She identified people who could tell her about becoming a chief commercial officer and offer insights on the unique challenges of gene therapy. She also found someone who could provide emotional support to counter those inevitable moments of self-doubt or decreased motivation during her potentially lengthy job search.

Conduct a financial wellness check

If you think you’re getting laid off, it’s wise to safeguard some cash in an emergency fund, ideally a money market account. You should have enough to cover more than six months of expenses because it can take that long to find a new job, especially at the executive level. If you are married, find out how to get health coverage under your spouse’s plan in the event that your company doesn’t cover the costs of COBRA payments.

Next, determine your baseline budget — the minimum amount of money you need to cover your basic costs, such as food, housing, utilities, and debt payments. You can also check the website of your state unemployment insurance agency to get an idea of what your weekly benefits will be and apply for them as soon as possible. When Jillian did this, she discovered that it helped her figure out how much more money she would need from other sources, such as savings, for necessities and how many nonessential costs she would need to cut until she landed a new position.

You might also consider meeting with a financial adviser to map out how you will support yourself through a transition period.

Update your branding

Last but not least, if you expect to be out of a job soon, you should immediately revamp your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your latest roles, responsibilities, achievements, and new career ambitions. I advise all my clients to keep a weekly list of accomplishments, and Jillian had followed through, so she was able to easily update her social media presence and avoid scrambling when a recruiter or hiring manager requested her resume.

Unwanted job changes are a fact of life, albeit a difficult one. Staying attuned to the warning signs — and planning what-if scenarios in case you’re let go — will enable you to remain more flexible, resilient, and in control of your career destiny.

Source: HBR.org