The best predictor of an employee leaving his/her job is making the decision to move on. While this seems intuitive, the gap between thinking about leaving and committing to it is enormous.
Here is a universal truism: Everyone complains about work. As career and job search coaches, much of our day involves talking with unhappy employees. We wish we had a tall, cool one for every time we’ve heard one of the following remarks:
- “My boss doesn’t realize how good of a job I’m doing.”
- “There is no upward mobility in my company.”
- “The culture here is toxic.”
- “My job is making me physically unwell.”
- “I am bored to tears.”
- “Each day seems like an eternity.”
- “I don’t like my job.”
These are not frivolous complaints, and we do not want to make light of them. They may be causing you real distress, anxiety, angst, and anguish. They are not, however, strong predictors of you actually leaving your job.
It may sound counterintuitive, since we make a living by helping people who want to change jobs, but we do not want you to waste your money, time, and energy on hiring a resume writer, LinkedIn profile designer, or interview coach if you are not 100% dedicated to exiting your organization. Without a full commitment to leave, your job search will have fits and starts until you are ultimately pulled back into the vortex of your job. We witness this happening routinely.
So how do you know if you are completely committed to a job search or simply testing the waters? In general, if you are still lamenting management decisions, agonizing over how your boss treats you, engaging in office politics, or commiserating with other disgruntled employees – you are not ready. You are still emotionally invested in your current situation.
If, on the other hand, you are no longer interested in what happens at your organization and completely divorced from quarterly results, cabals, infighting, one-upsmanship, and petty squabbles – congratulations, you’ve likely taken an important step toward landing in your next job. You may also feel a sense of peace with your decision. While some doubts about the wisdom of your decision will persist, in general you will notice yourself feeling emotionally better, more optimistic, relieved, excited, and proud.
Going from “just talk” to “commitment to leave” is not an easy journey. It demands a great deal of self-analysis, self-awareness, and self-evaluation. It also demands absolute honesty with oneself, as self-deception is the costliest of all forms of deception. We want to help you begin that journey and follow your dream, rather than be stymied by inertia or fearful of change (see blog, “Taking the Plunge into Your Job Search”). The future belongs to the bold.