Career Cheat Code Alert: Participating in the Great Resignation? Proceed with Caution

In this post-pandemic, Great Resignation world…You’ve got options! Whether you are a student entering the workforce, a caregiver relaunching one’s career, or a service member shifting to civilian life and looking to enter the public or private sector, it’s a candidate’s market!

But stepping out isn’t easy.  There is a slew of recent articles in the last few months where workers who’ve participated in the “Great Resignation” and jumped from one employer to another reported a degree of buyer’s remorse.  One should tread carefully and consider a number of different factors before taking that leap of faith that the grass is greener on the other side. Having personally just experienced several major organizations in the course of the pandemic, I want to provide you with some wisdom on how to choose your next employer and I welcome feedback, comments, and advice in the comments section below.  Overall, you must do your due diligence on the front end and not get too blinded by the name of the company approaching you or the money they’re throwing your way.   A few things to consider as you ponder your next move (by no means is this list exhaustive)…

Get Honest About Your Motivators to Jump Ship from Your Current Employer. Here are some questions to self-assess and reflect on: Are you plateauing in your career at your current employer? Are you not recognized, rewarded, and or compensated fairly for the contributions you’ve made to your team? Are you working in a toxic, untenable environment? Are you unable to bring your whole self to work? Is it difficult to get work done because of poor systems, processes, resources, budget, and or tools with no improvement coming in the near term? Are you misaligned with your team/company’s culture & values? PROTIP: Depending on your responses above, please give your current boss the courtesy and have a tough conversation with them about how you’re feeling.  Closed mouths don’t get fed.  Given the current labor market, it’s in every leader’s best interest to do all they can to retain their talent.  You have no idea what they can or cannot do.  Now, if you get unfavorable responses and or you’ve already had these conversations previously to no avail, then, by all means, explore. 

Don’t jump for lateral and or backward moves! Now I can hear some of you now…”But William, the other firm is offering more money, more stock, more (fill in the blank).” By jumping ship from one company to another company for a lateral move or worse a lower leveled role, you’ve now reset your “career clock” by at least 12-18 months (if not longer) before your next promotion bump.  You’ve also put yourself at the hypothetical back of the line at the new organization because now you’re with a new set of peers who’ve been at the company and patiently waiting their turn for promotion. The question for you is, is that ok?  Disclaimer: For those recently impacted by downsizings, this advice may not apply; however, since the job market is still fairly hot, you should think carefully about this issue and apply where it makes sense.

Money isn’t everything.  It’s certainly a component but it shouldn’t be your sole motivator for leaving.  The euphoria of the new bigger paycheck erodes fast especially when you come down from that honeymoon high and now realize that your new situation is similar to or perhaps even worse than your current situation. 

Is the prospective employer stable? Think about the prospective company’s overall financials, its leadership team, and the products/services they provide.  Search the name of the company online and investigate recent articles.  Review investor relations pages of the companies you’re exploring and see how the stock market is reacting to their press releases. The worst thing you can do is jump from a stable company to a firm with a lot of volatility.

Culture matters!  What’s the company culture like? What’s your perspective on division’s culture like? What’s the culture like on your immediate team?  Contrary to popular belief, a company has multiple cultures!  Why? Leaders create culture. Use anonymous employee websites like Glassdoor and or Blind in addition to connecting with prospective and past peers to understand the environment you’re looking to join.

Understand your prospective employer’s systems, tools, and processes.  I know this seems like a very tactical thing BUT very few prospective employees ask questions about this area. Sadly, they join said new organization and come to find out, the new company’s systems, tools, policies, resources, and budget are sometimes worse than your previous employer! Yikes!  What makes matters worse is the new organization isn’t really open to your fresh perspective feedback and very set in their way about how they do things there.  EEK! Again, if you’re going to make a move with tons of options, find out from your prospective peers how they feel about getting their work done and or do they feel empowered to improve their processes and tools, or are their things just set with little to no hope of changing them.

Who’s the Boss?  Follow Leaders, Not Labels! Whom are you working for?  Do you like their work style, vision, communication, etc.? What does that leader’s reporting chain look like in regards to those same dimensions?  Do you like them?  Do their values and focal areas align with yours? Do you feel your prospective boss is well regarded and respected in their organization? Do they care about you as a human being or do you get the vibe that your relationship with them is going to be pretty “transactional” in nature? Does this person care about your growth and career development beyond this current role they’re trying to hire you for?  Whatever your answers are, I want you to spend the BULK of your HOMEWORK here! Use LinkedIn and other social media to your advantage.  Connect with your prospective boss and or peers and ask them questions.  Overall, the more informed you are about your new boss and their reporting chain, the better.  Again, like in life, there are no guarantees that your boss or their chain, will be with you indefinitely.  But at least you’re making an informed decision.

Overall, you owe it to yourself to do your due diligence before participating in the Great Resignation.  Unlike in times past, you have lots more resources at your disposal to get unvarnished feedback from social media pages, anonymous employee feedback sites (e.g. Glassdoor, Blind, etc), and direct information from prospective peers and leaders.  Oftentimes students and early career professionals are so caught up in the company’s brand prestige and how that could accelerate their career and not think about the other issues I shared above.  Don’t be shortsighted and don’t ignore any red flags along the way.  Write down what’s important to you and review that list before you accept that offer from that new prospective employer!

William Chichester, III

William Chichester, III

Head of University Recruiting @ Target

Author, Career Cheat Codes