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Q&A: I’m Burned Out. Should I Leave My Job?

A:

First and foremost, the answer to this question is highly personal and based on a number of factors, from your background and skill level, to your financial situation, and personal goals. But I’ll address it from the standpoint of trends and activity I’m seeing among job seekers (and hiring managers) in the post-pandemic job market. 

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE JOB MARKET? 

LinkedIn’s Senior News Editor Andrew Seaman recently talked about how the pandemic produced an unforeseen shift that led many to pursue career changes after being laid off from previous roles – both in the early days of the pandemic, and currently. It’s a move that’s been referred to as the “Great Resignation”, and in addition to changing industries, many are holding off on returning to the workplace altogether.

Further research indicated that several factors played into this shift. First, a weakened job market and severely impacted industries pushed many to reconsider their line of work and seek out opportunities to train up into new industries. Second, a lack of flexible options has led many (who have the means) to leave their employers altogether in favor of time off – be it for family, a mental health break, or to reconsider their next career or life venture. 

Finally, as the job market slowly rebounds, particularly in high-demand sectors like tech, the wave of transition and exit has created a talent shortage, leaving employers scrambling to fill critical roles. With more demand and less supply, this has also driven up compensation in everything from hourly wage roles to salaried positions.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU? 

There is always a risk in leaving a position, and the added challenge of how to address a gap on your resume when applying for a new role. But asking yourself a few questions can help shed light on whether making a shift could actually benefit your career in the long-run. 

How easy will it be to re-enter the job market? 

While the demand for talent continues to grow, don’t bank on the trend lasting forever. If you’re in a high-demand role or skill set, this could work in your favor and pave a more favorable reentry into the job market in the coming weeks or months as employers continue to fight for top talent. 

But keep in mind, a gap in a resume will always come into the conversation with hiring managers. Be prepared to speak to your time off, and spin it in a way that reflects positively on you as a candidate. 

A client recently left a high-level, mid-six-figures engineering leadership role for mental health reasons. While his time off is 100% justified – the narrative he prefers to tell is that, after 3 successful years at the organization and hitting all of his goals, he opted to take time off to consider his next career move. 

Is there an opportunity to develop new skills and pivot?

Leaving your position – or taking a break between opportunities – might be a strategic move in that it allows you to rethink where your skill set can fit, and if there are any gaps to consider. If you’re looking to change careers, taking time off to up-level your skills or train in a new area could actually be a bigger benefit to you in the long run – by creating access to more opportunities, boosting your marketability, and increasing your earning potential.

If you’re currently employed and thinking about leaving, ask yourself – “Am I looking for a new job, a new employer? Or am I actually looking for a new career?” 

Does your work still align with your values?

The pandemic forced many of us to reconsider our priorities and what ranks most important to us in life. For many, it unveiled a disconnect in values between themselves and their job, their employer, or both. What may have seemed like the ideal opportunity or dream company a year ago, may no longer serve the same purpose, and it’s okay to feel out of alignment with your current situation.

If that’s the case, ask yourself – “What kind of organization would make me feel motivated, fulfilled, and in alignment with my values and interests?”

In the case of my client, a breakthrough came in realizing that no matter how much recognition or money the company offered him, he no longer felt a connection to the product he was building, and the work was  less fulfilling as a result. When it came time to give his notice, the company offered him paid leave and higher compensation – but his priority was finding an organization and mission that excited him. 

Are you in a position to invest heavily in yourself right now?

Taking time off is costly – from loss of wages, to maintaining healthcare coverage, and potentially pausing your retirement savings. Leaving a job – whether it’s for personal time, family time, or to consider a career change – is an investment in yourself. 

Ask yourself – “How long can I afford to pause my income – is the investment worth it, and what am I trying to achieve in the end?” 

What CAN you negotiate if leaving isn’t an option?

Quitting a job or changing careers simply isn’t an option for some. If you’re feeling burned out, consider what aspects of your role you can potentially negotiate to make your work situation easier and more fulfilling. 

As many companies navigate the return to office space, some workers simply have no interest in returning to old ways. I’ve had a number of clients leave roles with the intention of seeking a position that is fully remote. As this becomes more mainstream, employers will need to pivot in order to attract and retain talent.

Consider asking for more flexible work options – like a partial or fully remote work environment if it’s possible for your role. If you felt you excelled or added value, consider asking for a raise or even a promotion. Or perhaps renegotiate your role altogether – whether it’s offloading certain tasks, advocating for a new team member to balance the workload, or a transfer to a new department or team. 

How will this impact the future workplace? 

LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslanksy called it, “one of the largest talent migrations of our time,” and noted that “[this conversation] is not just about how we work, but why we work… and and how employers innovate to attract and retain talent with a new level of focus on employee fulfillment.”

Certainly it will be interesting to watch how the job market continues to shift, and how this movement among candidates impacts how employers view their workforces. It can be a great opportunity to reconsider where your skills and experience fit into the job market – whether it’s a new role, a new employer, or an entirely new industry.

WHAT NEXT? 

Thinking about making a move? In addition to our expertise in career change resumes, we offer customized career coaching to help you jumpstart that conversation, think about your next move, and position yourself for your next best opportunity. Contact us to get started.