About a year ago I wrote a post about switching jobs and increasing my pay substantially by doing so. Well once again, I’m leaving my current job for another huge pay increase. This time around though, I had a really hard time dealing with the stress and anxiety involved with giving my two weeks’ notice. Since the experience is still fresh I wanted to share some of the things I noticed and how I was able to deal with it.
This most definitely isn’t my first time giving notice but as far as I can remember it was the most difficult. Some of the variables contributing to that were the fact that I’ve only been at this job for one year, literally just received the good old company pen as an anniversary gift.
The culture here is unique in that the majority of employees stick around long term so it isn’t as common to see people go. I really never had a lot of rapport with my manager, plus I had a lot of additional stressors outside of work including closing on a new income property, working on that property without being able to take additional time off from work under the circumstances, planning for my wedding, getting the internet retail business inventory in for Christmas, on top of a few other major events. Lastly, because we were closing on the property I had to prolong giving notice until after that was done so the thought of approaching my manager about it was hanging over my head for over a week.
I wanted that pay increase and to move on to a better opportunity though, so the decision was already made. As much as I continued to remind myself of this important fact, I was up late worrying about what to say, how she would react, and playing out an endless amount of possible scenarios in my head. I know, worrying is wasted emotional energy that changes nothing. I understand that logically but with all the stress stacked on top of lack of sleep my emotions got the best of me and I struggled with it for a week.
How will they react? Will it be awkward? Will I be asked to leave? I don’t want to burn the bridge with them because they are a major player in the local job market. Will she be mad at me? Are they going to be threatened that by me leaving I’m making others aware of a better opportunity for their skill set? I’ve only been here a year and they made a point that they like people to stay long term when I was interviewing. Do I owe them more time? What will my new job be like? Will I be happy there? What if I’m not? Am I making a mistake by leaving? Multiply the above times 1,000 and you’ve got my nightly internal dialog.
Now for anyone going through this, here’s my words of wisdom having survived the process. You owe your employer nothing assuming you’re not under contract and your state has employment at will. If the job market has determined your worth to be much more than what your current employer is paying you then why would you barter your time for a lower rate of monetary compensation? After all, time is your most valuable resource.
Additionally, turnover is part of business. If you’re leaving for better opportunity and better pay this is strictly a business/financial decision. If you aren’t going to look out for your best interest then who is? If your manager is truly concerned about your career, your quality of life, and your progression, then they should be happy to see you advance on some level, even if they hate to see you go. If they want to be totally selfish and get upset because you’re putting your own interest above theirs, then that’s not someone you want to be working for in the first place and it just validates your decision to move on.
Plus you should never stop growing and never stop challenging yourself. Be professional and courteous in this situation, and in general, but decide what you want and keep moving towards that no matter what. In my situation leaving after one year felt like giving up on some level, but there’s a difference between giving up and deciding you’ve had enough of less than ideal circumstances.
Think of the most professional way of approaching your manager and have an idea of how you want to let them know without being negative or insulting. Focus on the positives of the opportunity, thank them for what they’ve done for you in the time you’ve spent with them, let them know the decision wasn’t easy for you to make, if you weren’t looking but were approached about the opportunity, then tell them that’s what happened. If the decision was a financial decision make that point because that’s hard to hold against anyone.
Note that it is not a lateral move, but an advancement. If things go terribly wrong, and they react unprofessionally you can always remain calm and simply get up and walk out. Just remember that in a few weeks you won’t work with those people anymore, you may never see them again, and when you’re in your new workplace none of that will matter to you anymore.
When you’re under someone in a corporate hierarchy and see them on a daily basis it creates the illusion that they have influence or that they truly matter to you. As soon as you walk out on your last day that illusion goes away permanently. Be sure to expand your vision, escape the bubble of the office you work in, and see the bigger picture of how insignificant those current “authority figures” really are. After making the move you are leaving for, do you think they’d ever be in a position that had influence over you in the future, or would it require you to go backwards a few levels for them to have authority over you based on how far you’re advancing?
After all the trouble I had getting to sleep, and waking up worried every morning at 4am, not being able to get back to sleep, the day had arrived for me to give notice. Nothing got done that morning prior to the conversation. When I was ready, I sent an email around 10:00 asking my manager to let me know when she’d have a minute to talk. The response came promptly and it was time.
The closer you get to that moment of action the higher the anxiety spikes, but just remember that there’s always a peak to be reached and once reached, you come down to a calm release of the tension on the other side. After all that worry, the conversation went surprisingly well. She was very understanding of my decision and although it wasn’t ideal, things were wrapped up peacefully. Once I left the office I had closure and felt much relief.
Knowing you’ll only be around for another two weeks, you do start to see some aspects of your current situation that you’ll miss and there’s still some uncertainty about the next chapter but giving notice is the last major milestone before moving on.
Think long term, focus on the bigger picture, do what’s best for your career advancement and quality of life, and don’t prolong having the conversation once your decision has been made. After all, people quit their jobs and move on to better opportunities every day. It may feel like a relationship break up in a way, but once you deliver the news, things instantly turn for the better.
So if you’ve recently landed a better job and are about to give notice, congratulations and good luck!