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Have you ever seen a high-profile resignation in the news or on social media? Maybe it was a hedge fund manager who released a lengthy letter calling out their company’s leadership, or a manager who made a viral video announcing their departure. While these grand gestures can be attention-grabbing, they may not always be the best approach for your own career.
It's important to be mindful of when it might be time to move on from a role, whether it's due to a difficult team dynamic, a negative company culture, or other challenges. By paying attention to the signs and making a professional exit, you can avoid letting the situation deteriorate and potentially damaging your reputation.
Because when it comes down to it, while everyone loves the idea of a dramatic exit, the reality is that your career is worth more than that.
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When thoughts of resigning first come to you, take a quick internal look inside and see if there’s anything that you can do on your side to improve the situation. Especially in the workplace, it can become a habit to look at things through a negative lens: and often, a change in perspective or an honest discussion can dissolve much of the tension.
When you have low-level disagreements or miscommunications with your manager, first see whether there’s a way to preserve the relationship. It may simply be a case of understanding a different management style and then working out how to manage it. Staying longer to work things out could help you strengthen your relationship with this person in the future.
However, once you’ve done all you can on your side, look for the following signs that resigning may be the only solution.
Related: How to resolve workplace conflicts: A guide for managers
Look out for these factors to tell you if it’s time to hand in your resignation:
If you’re showing up to work every day feeling disengaged, this is a big sign that it’s time to leave. Even in leadership positions that look great on paper, a manager can become disengaged for a variety of reasons.
If you’ve noticed a lack of passion and proactivity in your role and can’t seem to find a way to get it back, a change may be what you need.
Whether it’s a toxic manager, a dysfunctional team or impossible targets, it can be hard to recover once a working environment has turned negative.
Don’t feel obliged to stay in an overly negative culture or office environment. This becomes even more important if the stress and negativity affect your life outside of work.
It’s normal to want to upskill, gain new responsibilities and grow within your career. If you feel you’ve reached the end of where you can within the company, you may need to look outside for your next big role. While company loyalty is a great value, keep an eye out for your career.
Especially once you’ve reached a level in your career where you’ve become a specialist, companies will start to seek you out.
Evaluate offers that come your way fairly, and decide what constitutes an opportunity that you can’t turn down. Maybe it’s at a dream company, better working conditions for your lifestyle, or an exciting chance to lead a new team.
Related: How to handle the conversation about your resignation
Once you decide to leave, you must go on a good note and communicate clearly. Speak with your manager and also prepare a resignation letter. Where possible, preserve your professional relationships.
Before resigning, take one more look at your decision. If you’re leaving because of feeling undervalued, decide what, if anything, would make your stay in the role versus your external options. What will you do if you get a counteroffer to stay with the current company?
Ensuring that you have clearly defined reasons for handing in your resignation will also make the actual resignation easier. Above all, keep professionalism in mind, and make it a goal to resign gracefully.
Related: Resignation letter templates [2023 Update]
In delivering the message, think about the positives the job has brought you. Maybe focus on your excellent professional relationships, the new skills learned, or the stepping stone it’s delivered to your next role. Even in the most challenging environment, focusing on the good things when you’re on your way out helps make you appear more professional and constructive.
Especially in smaller job markets or specialised industries, you never know who you might work with in the future. Even some of the best resignation stories can end with an old manager coming into the picture later as a necessary reference, a future manager, or a network contact.
Related: 3 impactful resume templates to guide your resume writing process
Rework your CV, contact a recruiter and start conversations with companies you want to work with. Meanwhile, ensure that you are still present at your current job for as long as possible.
When interviewing for your next role, if a future employer asks why you’re leaving, speak more about you than about them – focus on opportunities for growth, new opportunities and what you want to accomplish. After all, dwelling on negative aspects of your current company or manager might make you seem petty or over-emotional – not great qualities in a critical hire.
Consult with a recruiter who can help you find roles that are a good match for your requirements and the next step in your career. Recruiters have the advantage of communicating with both you and the employer, allowing you instant feedback on interviews and the hiring process. Look for places whose values match yours and who walk the talk regarding these values.
Leaving a job can feel personal, especially if you have a strong sense of company loyalty, have built a great team, or have worked on pivotal projects. However, when it’s finally time to leave, try to take emotion away from the equation. Look forward to your next role and focus on succeeding in the first few months of a job.
Ready to make your next career move? Search our current opportunities, submit your CV or get in touch with one of our recruitment specialists at Michael Page.
Read more:How to succeed at a panel interviewHow to make a successful career change15 ways to prepare and succeed at virtual job interviews
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