Should I quit my job right now, at the peak of a pandemic? When is the right time to quit? How do you know when to leave your job? Do you have to hate your job to start thinking of leaving?
One of my readers asked me last week, “Should I quit my job, because quite a lot of my managers and seniors who she adores and respects are leaving the company?
She joined the company to get mentorship and sponsorship that she thought would be good for her. Now, because they are leaving, should she leave?
I'm sure this is not a unique question. We always tend to wonder when is the right time to leave that job.
Now I’m going to give you 2 pieces of advice. It will seem strange but bear with me...
Advice ONE - being a top performer at your current job should be a non-negotiable. Because being a top performer is a habit. And you need to get into the habit of being the best, even when no one else is looking. But then there’s more… it’s a contractual obligation that you have. And also people are always looking.
At some level, if you think about it, you need to always deliver 100% or more at your job, because that is your professional obligation. You have signed the contract and you have to be delivering 100% of the results. And more, because they hired you because you are a top performer! That is what sets you apart across the industry- not just in the myopic view of that particular job, but also for other jobs. Because remember, when you perform, it's not only your manager who is watching… Everyone else is also watching. One day in some random conversation where you won't be there, that person will talk about you. So the first thing is, whether or not you want to quit your job, perform at your 100% at the job because the rest of the people are watching, and there are always positive benefits to doing stellar work.
Now, the second thing, and this might sound counterintuitive, but actually, in some ways, you should always be looking for a job.
What do I mean by that?
If you are not in your dream job you should obviously always be looking at getting closer to your dream role. But consider this- even if you are in your dream job, it can be taken away in a matter of days. Like in my reader’s case, she was in this dream role. And it was just taken away because her managers decided to move on.
So what should she do now?
So what would you do?
The idea is to always look out for another dream opportunity if Plan A was to fall apart.
And Plan A can fall apart for a number of reasons, and some might even come without warning.
It could be redundancy, it could be your managers moving on, it could be your sponsors, moving on, it could be a ton of different things… It could be that your company was sold off to someone else, or a direction change in the company strategy.
But that is not what is important. What is important is you need to keep your career strategy at the centre of your career plan. And that is why I say do not be a passive spectator in your career, become the most active participant- i.e. your Career CEO!
And how do you do that?
You have to think three steps ahead all the time.
In this case, if your managers or your mentors or sponsors are moving over to another company, that would benefit from you being there as well, I would definitely reach out to sponsors and mentors. Because, working with people who like you, and you respect has a huge advantage to your career trajectory.
Now, that's not always possible. And if that's not possible, you have to ask yourself, do you see a future in the current company? Do you like other people other than the people who are leaving? If you like them, is it worthwhile carrying on in your current role?
And again it's not only about the current state. As I said, you have to think three steps ahead. Even if you like the people as people, do you like the new set of responsibilities? Do they challenge you and help you grow? Is there a way you get the stretch opportunities that will spearhead your position in the industry?
Or would it become more of a job to be at your current job than to find a new one? And you also have to consider how you are regarded in your current company? What is your personal brand like? Are you regarded as a top performer?
It's always good to be a top performer and your long term careers are built when you stay at a certain company for longer-term because actually to get around and understand the politics of the company, the management scene, the industry, everything takes a bit of time. And early on in our careers, we tend to jump around. But actually, if you think about it, the leadership roles at established companies typically go to people who have been there for quite a while. And there are massive benefits to actually sticking on with a company.
Now, all of this requires quite a lot of self awareness, and also, situational awareness. What are the other things that might affect your career? Is it your mentor? Is your boss? Is it your industry? Is it something else that you are doing outside of work? May be a hobby? Or a partner? Maybe family. Consider your medium to long term goals and try to find alignment.
All of these things together form your career strategy. So here, I can just go on and give very generic advice on what your next step should be. But in reality, there is so much more nuance to it, that I would say, figure out what is best for you in your situation. Consider all of the things that might affect this decision.