By Carrie Dagenhard (Tech Writer)
We all have days when we fantasize about quitting our jobs. Maybe it starts with an unexpected software malfunction that encroaches on your evening plans, a condescending remark from a rude coworker or a micromanaging boss who needs to know every detail of every ticket you’ve closed in the past week. Whatever the catalyst, suddenly you’re spending an afternoon daydreaming about packing up your desk, telling everyone exactly what you think and waltzing out the door with a triumphant smile.
As an IT pro, you encounter plenty of frustrations and pressures at work — and it’s not uncommon for these stressors to reach a boiling point. And with a predicted 1 in 4 IT pros planning to seek new employment this year, if you’re ready to move on, then you’re not alone.
But before you re-enact a scene from Office Space or Jerry Maguire, there are a few things you should consider. While there may be several excellent reasons to quit your job, there are also plenty of other reasons to wait and weigh your options before you bid your employer adieu.
Here are seven questions you should ask yourself before you quit your IT job:
1. Is This an Impulsive Response to a Temporary Problem?
Is your desire to leave your job borne from a variety of factors over a long period, or one especially frustrating but ﬂeeting moment? If you choose to quit based on one bad day — or even a bad week — you’ll likely regret your decision once the dust has settled. Although walking away can feel liberating at ﬁrst, you never want to compromise a potentially bright future with a company over a temporary gripe.
Before you make any rash decisions, go home and sleep on it. If your dissatisfaction doesn’t subside by the following week, it may be time to weigh your options.
2. Can Your Dissatisfaction be Resolved?
Maybe you’re feeling overworked, underpaid, unappreciated — or maybe you just need a vacation. In some cases, you can resolve your workplace unhappiness through an honest conversation with your boss. Ask yourself, if you earned more money, had a more manageable workload or received the recognition you deserve for your efforts, would you be willing to stay? If so, it’s worth bringing up your needs to your employer.
Of course, if your dissatisfaction stems from something more serious (for example, you don’t jive with the company culture, or you’re ready for a career change), then earning more money is unlikely to cure your unhappiness. And if your employer doesn’t appreciate you or treat you with respect today, it’s unlikely this will change.
3. Do You Have to Quit Right Now?
In a perfect world, you could quit today and start a new, better job tomorrow. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Quitting your job without having another opportunity lined up could leave you (and your career) in a precarious position. Not only could failing to provide a two-week notice leave you in poor standing with your current employer (which could come back to haunt you when your next potential employer performs a background check), but a signiﬁcant gap between employment on your resume could be challenging to explain. If possible, secure another job and give your current employer sufficient notice before you walk out the door. However, if you’re dealing with workplace harassment or a toxic environment that’s affecting your mental health, it’s critical to get yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible.
4. Are You Financially Prepared for Temporary Unemployment?
Unless you won the lottery and you’re just working in IT for fun, you probably need your job to pay your bills. If you don’t want to (or can’t) wait for another opportunity before you leave your current role, it’s crucial you have a safety net such as a hefty savings account or investments you can tap into. Additionally, there are several side gigs for IT pros you can take on to help cover the bills until you land your next role.
5. Have You Considered Your Next Career Steps?
Take stock of why you’re unhappy in your current role and determine how you can avoid repeating this situation in your next IT job.
For example, maybe you’re frustrated by the lack of upward mobility at your current company and want a position that offers a greater potential for growth.
Or maybe you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneur bug, and you’re chomping at the bit to launch your own venture. This could be the perfect time to chase your passion — but starting a company can take at least several months of planning, preparation, and a hefty ﬁnancial investment. If you’re just beginning the process, you may want to hang onto your day job a little longer while you set things up.
6. Do You Have a Concrete Plan?
Is your resume polished and ready to send? Have you reached out to contacts in your network who can act as references or help you ﬁnd new opportunities? Have you begun scouting potential roles and companies? Do you know exactly what you want from your next employer? Before you jump ship, make sure you’re leveraging all possible resources to land your next job. If possible, wait until you’ve officially accepted a written offer before you tell your current employer you’re leaving.
7. Can You Keep Your Cool?
The last thing you want to do is burn bridges. Despite its size, the IT community can operate like a small town and word travels fast. Souring your relationships within one company by acting in an unprofessional or reckless manner could prevent you from earning an IT opportunity elsewhere — especially if you’re seeking another job in the same city.
If you’re worked up, stop and take a few deep breaths. It’s best to wait until you’re level-headed and thinking clearly before you have a critical conversation with your employer, and especially when you’re handing in your notice.
Quitting a job can be the ﬁrst step toward boosting your IT career into a prosperous future, or it can be a painful misstep with serious ﬁnancial and professional consequences. By taking the time to consider these seven things, you can ensure you’re better prepared to make your departure a positive one.