Great Resignation? Or do you actually have a Great Job that needs fine tuning?

The term ‘The Great Resignation’ most likely hasn’t escaped your attention in recent months.

In November 2021, The Guardian reported that a survey of 6,000 workers by the recruitment firm Randstad UK found that 69% of respondents were feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next few months, with 24% planning a change within three to six months.  US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the number of people quitting their jobs hit the highest-ever level in the same month.

It’s now January, traditionally high time for resignations.  It’s a normal process for people to consider their options at the start of the new year, after many have taken time off.  There is always the sense of (trying to) turn over a new leaf in the first month, across diverse aspects of our lives.

Perhaps this time around more than ever, people are reflecting on what they’re taking time off from?  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people talk about their holidays as an essential recharge and recovery from yet another turbulent year of Covid-19.  And perhaps, given this, I’m not the only one who was struck by this quote from Adam Grant which did the rounds in December?

“The holidays shouldn’t be a time to recharge. They should be a time to celebrate. If work is exhausting people to the point that they’re using their time off to recover, you might have a burnout culture. A healthy organization doesn’t leave people drained in the first place.”

After nearly two solid years of Covid throwing daily life and bigger-picture plans repeatedly in the air, with so much held in suspension as a result, it’s natural that many are craving a sense of positive momentum.  Our norm for 24-odd months has been a weird sort of stasis, after all.

And it may just be that now is the time – dare I say – that it feels more comfortable to make plans?  We’re far from seeing the back of Covid-19, but there is a sense in the air that, in the UK at least, we’re living more easily with a virus that appears to have accelerated its transition to becoming endemic.

So what to do if you’re itching to make a change?  From speaking with a range of friends in diverse roles in the industry, I’ve put together three initial simple considerations, with more to come in a follow-up article.

Update your CV

It’s generally viewed as good practice to keep your CV up to date.  It’s hard to consider doing it if you’re settled in your role, but even then many experts recommend it’s still worth being open to conversations to keep an eye on your market potential.  If you’re contemplating a move, start by looking at your CV. 

Don’t do it in isolation – ask friends (in the industry and even outside of it) to give you sight of how they’ve done theirs, look at examples online, and speak to recruiters about what a great CV looks like.  And when you’ve drafted yours, share it with a small number of people for a sense-check.

Perhaps it seems obvious that an up-to-date CV is a pre-requisite for moving jobs, but the idea here is to do it before you’re at the point of actively looking around.  Working on your CV helps you take stock of your achievements, and to start to work out how these might play out in a recruitment process.  This then can help you work out if there’s anything you might want to do now to optimise your resumé for your job search – for example by reaching for new achievements in your current role, or undertaking training.

Take stock of your existing role

It’s so easy to think the grass is going to be greener elsewhere.  It’s also natural to see any frustrations in our roles as down to our employers rather than us.  I remember my first boss saying to me as I handed in my resignation ‘just remember in your next role, you’re still going to be you’.  Fair to say he wasn’t my biggest fan at this point.

So do whatever you can to weigh up the pros and cons of your current role as dispassionately as possible.  Alongside this, take stock of what really matters to you in your job, versus what you can dispense with or simply accept.  Sometimes the things we think we value are not really the things that bring us joy and fulfilment in our work.  We tend to overestimate the importance of pay relative to other factors, for example.

It’s really hard to do this kind of analysis, though – it’s hard to have objectivity.  It’s sometimes impossible to have the right sort of mental space for it too, when you’re busy.  

This is where a coach can be extremely helpful.  I had tended to see coaching as a long-term commitment but recently found a brilliant coach who told me that her norm is to work with people to solve specific issues over a focused period.  When I was considering my options I set them out for her and it was immediately apparent what the right course of action would be.  If coaching isn’t right for you, consider how you can carve out the breathing room to take a view of your role versus your needs, and chat it out with friends you can trust.

Ultimately, bear in mind that it sometimes seems that we need to move jobs to get what we want, but it may be that the better option is to stay put and optimise our current situation.  In this period of the ‘Great Resignation’ many companies are recognising the importance of working harder to retain talent.   Think about whether you’ve made your career development needs clear. If you’re leaving because of specific frustrations, have you aired these and given your employers a chance to address them?

Work your network and optimise your profile

Do exercise caution in having conversations about moving roles – bear in mind that this is a small industry and it could get back to your employers without your controlling the narrative. 

But by the same token, consider the value of the network you have.  Friends in other businesses can give you an insight into their company culture, and what their employers are looking for.  You might also be surprised by what opportunities present themselves when you start casually and carefully mentioning that you might weigh up your options in the coming period.

In addition, recruiters can be a great source of insight and worth engaging with before you’re actively looking. 

Related to this, think about whether there’s anything you can do to elevate your profile in the industry.  What is your presence on LinkedIn and what might you to do boost it?  Are you leveraging industry groups and networks as fully as you could?

At more junior levels, having a large LinkedIn network and active presence is not a pre-requisite, but as we become more senior it becomes more expected, and more and more useful to securing a role.

These are just three main themes, and this is the first article on this topic.  The next one will cover:

  • How to decide what you really want from your career
  • How to navigate a career shift
  • How to choose a new employer with confidence

Do please share your thoughts on these initial themes and anything else you’d like to see covered.