Leaving a job can be like ending a relationship with associated ‘resignation guilt’. While breaking up may be hard to do, here’s how to manage it to come out stronger in the end.
‘Breaking up is hard to do’ may be the name of some old 1960s song, but it can ring true when leaving a job and experiencing ‘resignation guilt’.
Most people at some point (or several) in their career decide it’s time to leave a job. It doesn’t mean there’s bad blood or you don’t like the work you do or have any issues with the company or organisation you work for.
The time just comes for change for whatever reason.
This is certainly true today more than ever. The time when people worked for 40 years for the same company and got a gold watch when they retire is over, for many of us anyway. A 2019 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of baby boomers indicated on average them leaving a job 12 times during their career. And that’s just the boomers, so you can only imagine how often X, Y, Z and millennials might move jobs given the crazy-fast change to the industrial landscape, a massive move towards a gig economy and changing attitudes to finding the right balance in one’s work and professional life.
But what happens when you do decide to change jobs? (Even as medical and legal recruiters whose business it is to help people find new jobs, before you do leave, we recommend thinking carefully before making that decision.) And then when you find a new role, you are super excited the day has come to move on...and BOOM, resignation guilt kicks in?
How to Manage Resignation Guilt
What is resignation guilt when leaving a job?
Resignation guilt is as simple as it sounds - that moment just before leaving a job where you start questioning if it’s the right thing to do. The voices start in your head, even when you are leaving a job because you no longer enjoy working for the company anymore.
"It wasn’t that bad"
"I’m really going to miss the people here"
"My employer relies on me, I feel really bad making them replace me"
This is all completely normal and a good thing - there is nothing wrong with testing your decisions by considering the consequences of leaving a job.
However, once you have decided it is the right way to go and the resignation guilt kicks in, what should you do?
5 ways to manage your resignation guilt when leaving a job:
1. It's never the right time
There is never a ‘good time’ for leaving a job. Most businesses have projects on the go constantly and would prefer to have you stay rather than leave! The best way to manage this is to give your employer as much notice as possible, tie up all your work as neatly as possible and help with the handover by offering an overlap to train someone new accompanied by top-notch handover notes.
2. Imagine the situation is reversed
Businesses go through restructures and sectors through downturns - or pandemics! During these times, some staff must be let go. This is often part of the business cycle, as is you leaving your job at any given point. Ultimately, it isn’t a personal relationship ending, it’s a business relationship, and it can be done respectfully and amicably. And don’t forget, there are others out there looking for work, so you are replaceable!
3. You don't need to go out guns blazing
Even if leaving a job occurs because of a beef with the organisation, you don’t need to go out guns blazing or burn bridges. In this situation, resignation guilt is more likely around letting colleagues down with whom you have great relationships. You can maintain these once you leave, keeping them as part of your professional network.
4. Professional growth can sometimes only occur by leaving a job
There is often room within a company for professional growth, but there will be times where opportunities dry up. When this time comes, you may have to move on to be professionally satisfied. You can even flip the narrative on this and convince yourself that in a way you are doing your current employer a favour by looking further afield rather than stay in a role you’re unhappy with. Of course, talk to them first about the lack of opportunity - maybe this simple discussion will open doors within the organisation you thought were previously closed?
5. Focus on the solution, not the problem
Once you’ve decided to leave, focus on where you are going (the solution) not where you’re coming from (the problem). Moving to a new role should be exciting, so let it be just that!
Bottom line: There is no need to feel resignation guilt, and, even if you do, think about some of the points above and hopefully you will get it in check and move on to your next big role.
Gorilla Jobs Can Help You
We love what we do at Gorilla Jobs, and while there are challenges, we are always ready to help you as a candidate or recruiting organisation to ensure the best talent ends up in the best jobs. Reach out to us today if you have any questions!