All good things -- and hopefully bad ones, too -- must come to an end. If you are at the point in your career where you are ready to leave your employer, consider these factors before giving your two weeks' notice:
1. Are you performing well in your job? It is very tempting to want to bail from your job when work is tough -- but don't. Your employer will usually remember you as you were at the end of your employment -- not as you were when you started. Ending a role with mediocre to poor performance may haunt you throughout your career.
First, every time a new employer goes to check a reference, he or she may come across your slump when speaking with your past employer. Even when you do not provide a specific manager as a reference, the super connected world of LinkedIn makes it very easy for a prospective supervisor to track down previous bosses to get the inside track. This is especially the case if your current manager is well networked, or if your industry is very tight.
Second, resigning with marginal work makes it more difficult to "sell" why a new company should hire you. Savvy recruiters should ask about accomplishments, work performance, raises and increased responsibilities. If you are leaving without achieving any of those, it is a red flag regarding your abilities and commitment to success.
Third, mentally, you are always more confident and a better interviewee when you exude the vibe of someone who is making a difference at work. Even the best actors have a hard time faking success in interviews if they are really just getting by in their current positions.
2. Do you have a new job lined up? Seasoned hiring managers worry when a job seeker has quit a job without another, better position locked in. This usually means one of two things: The candidate did not actually choose to leave (he or she was fired), or the candidate couldn't find a way to make things work long enough to find another role. Either way, these possibilities make the job seeker seem more risky to hire and may give reason for the employer to pursue a different applicant.
Taking the time to identify and actually land a comparable or better position while employed is ideal. Additionally, employed candidates seem like better candidates to most managers. Think of it in dating terms: The guy that has a girlfriend and has other girls after him is more appealing than the guy sitting by himself at home. Human nature tells us that if others want something, it is most likely worth wanting. If others do not want something, it could be dangerous or risky.
Companies do not like to take risks in hiring. By leaving your job without something lined up, you are making yourself a riskier hire, and you are losing out on leveraging your current employment to secure something better.
3. Do you have a couple references? The final step in most hiring processes is the reference check. While most employers understand that they cannot contact your current supervisor, some will ask for a colleague or client that they can speak with before extending an offer. Others will make your offer contingent on completing the reference checks after you resigned.
It is critical that you have a couple of contacts that can speak highly about your skills, character and the value you can add to another role. Hiring managers regularly say that exceptional reference checks play an important role in employment decisions. Pick your references wisely.
If possible, your reference should be as high-ranking as possible, well spoken, responsive and able to succinctly present why you are a good hire. It also helps to arm your references with any specific traits or accomplishments that you think would be especially beneficial based on the role you are targeting. Great references typically are the result of doing great work -- but making a good selection as to who to use and arming them with the right information goes a long way as well.
In short, quickly quitting a miserable job may seem like the only decision at a moment of great frustration. However, you have so much more to gain when you can pause and plan your exit. Performing well on the job, being strategic in lining up a new role and ensuring that you have advocates that can attest to your strengths are three ways to make your move for the better. And remember, if it was all meant to be enjoyable, it wouldn't be called work, and you would be happy to work for free.
Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them and a certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. Her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs/associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Davis.