4 Ways to Avoid Regrets When Quitting Your Job

Although many technologists have used the “Great Resignation” to jump into a new job with better pay, roughly a quarter of workers who quit their jobs over the past year are disappointed.

Many job changers have reportedly experienced “shift shock” when they realize that their new job and company are not what they expected; many also miss their colleagues at their old company. Perhaps their previous jobs were better than they thought.  

Where did they go wrong?

Every regret can be a powerful lesson and tool for your future. In that spirit, here are some ways to make sure you won’t end up regretting your decision to switch jobs.

Don’t Quit on a Whim

Don’t make a life-changing decision hastily, warned Paul Freiberger, a career coach for high tech and science professionals and president of Shimmering Careers.

You may have options beyond walking away, Freiberger pointed out. For instance, you may be able to negotiate trade-offs with your current employer, like a more flexible schedule or increased educational opportunities.

Sometimes technologists want to leave their current employer because of situations that can actually be remedied, such as an annoying cubicle neighbor, noted Laurie Swanson, founder and CEO of InspiHER Tech and a former programmer. Asking to transfer to another team or move to a different cubicle may solve the problem instead of switching companies.

Sometimes a temporary move can help reinvigorate your interest in your current job. Take a vacation or family leave… or even start a job search. Going on interviews can help you compare and fairly evaluate your current situation and make the right stay-or-go decision. Avoiding a hasty resignation will give you more flexibility, and you’ll feel less pressure to accept the first offer. 

Be Financially Prepared

If you do decide to leave before you have another job lined up, you need to be emotionally and financially prepared. No matter how confident you are, finding the right job is rarely easy or quick, and shortcutting the process can lead to mistakes.

According to the BLS, the median duration of unemployment in July was 8.5 weeks, but almost 19 percent of job seekers were unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

Don’t Be So Gullible

Bigger salaries. Signing bonuses. Better projects. The ability to lead your own team. Realize that third-party recruiters and prospective employers will say things they think you want to hear to get you onboard. This can cause you to make biased decisions because you don’t factor in all of the relevant information.

Being bombarded with inquiries can also put doubt in your head. For instance, it can cause you to question whether you are underpaid or view your current working conditions through a more negative lens.

Even when hiring managers go out of their way to paint an accurate picture, bad things can happen, Swanson noted. For instance, maybe the budget gets cut as soon as you join, or someone leaves unexpectedly and your boss needs you to take on an individual contributor role for a few months. Soon you’re back in the same boat, wondering whether it’s in your best interest to quit or try to stick it out.

Thoroughly researching a potential employer and vetting their promises with current and former employees can help you ask thoughtful questions during the hiring process and make informed decisions. Also, always take a cautious approach by evaluating an opportunity and company using a potential worse-case scenario—ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Run Toward the Future

You are more likely to end up in the wrong job if you haven’t defined your ideal job, company and career path. “Don’t skip steps,” Swanson advised. Your chances of making a better decision increase when you run towards something instead of away from something.

If you work in technology, you understand the importance of taking an analytical approach, Freiberger noted. Treat your job search like the most important project you have ever managed.

Make a list of your top requirements; take stock of your interests, talent and skills, financial and educational goals, values, technical environment and lifestyle. To make sure that you’re up for the challenge, here are some free resources and tools to help you navigate each step in the career-planning process.

Best of all, having a clear picture of what you want can help you attract well-suited opportunities and avoid “shift shock” and decisions you later regret.