I's gots to go!

Sometimes the best option is to leave your current employer and start somewhere else. Whether you've maxed out your career options, grown bored, disagree with management, or just need a change, the right next step might be to look for a new job.

But where to begin? And how do you exit gracefully, getting what you need without burning bridges?

If you are anything like me, you are afraid to tell them you are leaving because you feel an obligation, even if you are not under an employment contract. You have built some great relationships and have some projects in the works... you don't want to harm anyone with this decision. But really, what are the most important things to consider when making this decision...? And how resilient is your organization in a way that they'll get by without you?

Consider these 5 tips as you explore new horizons:

1. Be sure you are moving toward something versus running away.
While you might have plenty of reasons to leave your current employer, the more important thing is what are you moving TOWARD - which may also result in higher success for you.
For instance, if you know what specifically frustrates you with your current boss and your preferred working styles, then you have more information to use when looking for the next job. This information can be used when searching for open job postings or as questions during the interview. (Yes, YOU interview them too!). Without this information, you may be walking into a new job with the same problems, and thus same frustrations.

2. Understand what you are giving up.
It's very likely your current employer has certain perks and benefits beyond pay and health care coverage. Maybe it's a company car, retail discounts, extra vacation, work from home options, flexible hours, or personal independence... There are likely certain things you love about your job. Make note of these and their relative importance to you. Then, use your top 3 as criteria for where you next work. Ask about these options in your interviews and assess how available these options are to you within your first months or year of employment. As you explore new options, you may come to a point that your current employer has better options than others, or perhaps these options aren't as important to you compared to other things (e.g. Salary, job challenge, responsibility, title improvement, proximity to home, etc...) in a way that the new job is the next best option. Regardless of your final decision, be sure to include these things in your consideration  set as they matter too.

3. Write a resignation letter.
Most people start looking before they decide to resign, to ensure continual paychecks, etc... while others may have a savings that gives them a month or two of cushioned off-time. Regardless of the timing of your decided departure, you will have to announce your decision to leave, and most times this comes along with a resignation letter.

Why a resignation letter? Sure, it's easier to 'drop the bomb' of news on paper rather than speak it (at least it would be for me), but it's really meant for documentation of your intent to leave. You still have to tell people. But having it in writing puts a date on it and your personal statement as to when decided. It doesn't have to be lengthy or even with a reason, (exit interviews are conducted to collect that information), but a simple 2-3 sentences stating your intent and desired length of weeks or months to stay. [Check TheMuse.com for some examples]. Your employer may give you a different timeline, which you should be prepared for. Then, you start taking steps to leave.

4. Actively search for opportunities in line with your career goals.
As you assess what didn't work with your current job, try to spend extra time on what you want most in your new job. Take a long look at your career so far and take inventory of what you've enjoyed the most and what you're really good at. Ask yourself what you want to learn next and where you want to grow. Then translate these things into key words, industries, or job titles. Use the internet job boards to search, but also use your network to talk with people to refine what you're looking for and learn about what's available. Taking part in these activities, though more difficult and time consuming, can result in much higher satisfaction in where you land next.

5. Prepare Yourself for the Journey.
Job searches can be time consuming and emotionally draining. You can receive more No's than Yes's and more often complete silence compared to the amount of effort you put in. But just like dating, you may have to 'kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.' It's a numbers game, where the more effort you put in, the higher the chance of reward at the end.

And to help with the long journey, emotionally, physically, and financially prepare yourself. Before you resign, stash away some money (or consider Emergency Funds), schedule time to research AND relax on your calendar, and mentally prepare for the effort and rejections to come. Exercise, eat well, and have your best friends just a phone call away for support should times get tough. And keep going!! There's a reason you are leaving and there's something better out there for you!

Lastly - as you move through this transition in your life - never give up on the things you want most for yourself and the next step in your career. You have unique talents and abilities that you deserve to be paid for. And there's an employer out there who can offer what you want and need most in your next job - you just have to ask for it. Changes can be tough, but the growth you experience and the new relationships you build are what are it worth it in the end. You deserve to be happy and work in a job that brings out the best in you! You were made for more than what you have today - now go out there and get it!

#ChooseGreatWork #WorkHappy
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