Ready to Quit? 5 Things You Need to Know Before Changing Jobs

Updated 05/08/17

The days of staying at the same job for 25 years seem to be a thing of the past. It likely doesn’t come as a surprise, but job hopping is more frequent for millennials than the generation before them. In a study by LinkedIn, the number of jobs held by graduates within the first five years of graduating has nearly doubled. Certain industries, such as media, entertainment, and education, see particularly high turnover rates.

There’s no doubt that swapping jobs has its benefits: a significant salary increase and elevated job title being the main perks. Whatever your reasons are for making a switch, there are steps that can make the process smoother. Keep reading for five tips you should consider if you’re looking to change jobs.

tips for changing jobs
Brooke Testoni

Get Organized

Think about your job trajectory similarly to how you navigated through your college credits. You knew there were certain requirements you had to fulfill and prerequisites you had to pass to move on to the next stage in your degree and eventually graduate. To do this, you probably created some sort of year-by-year game plan detailing what had to be taken and when. This is how you should think of your job trajectory. Do you have an end goal for your career path? First, decide what that looks like for you: the type of job, the salary and benefits, the location—then you can begin to create bite-size steps to achieve it.

This is also a good way to create a timeframe for yourself. Plan over the next year, five years, or even create a 10-year plan.

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Invest in Yourself

Every job has its own unique skill set. To achieve that dream job, it’s important to cultivate your abilities. That can mean taking a class at your local community college or picking up some extra freelancing. If you’re not sure where to start, there are certain skill sets that are always beneficial to brush up on. Try taking a writing class or a basic marketing course. Download a foreign language app, like Duolingo, to brush up on that rusty high school French. Get certified in Google Adwords or Analytics. Even if these skills don't directly relate to your career path, setting aside consistent time to build your abilities can make a world of difference on your résumé.

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Use Your Network

Maintaining a good rapport with your co-workers and managers is crucial. One of the most important tips for changing jobs is to always give your old company two-weeks' notice and end your tenure on a positive note. After your time comes to a close, send your former boss a thank you note. Leave a good impression—you never know when you’ll need these connections again. Maintain good relationships with old co-workers too, particularly if you work in similar fields. If you see one of them got a new job, send them a congratulatory note.

Offer to be a reference for co-workers whose professionalism you admire. You never know when those connections can help you in your own career trajectory.

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Do a Comparison

Maybe you’re already at the point where you’re weighing a new job offer with your current position. Before you make the swap, give the two positions a comparison. Salary is one of the first items we think to compare, but keep in mind factors like retirement and health plans. Consider other benefits that may be important to you like maternity leave, tuition reimbursement, or flexible work hours. What type of time off does your prospective job offer—both sick days and PTO? Most important, does this job lead you along the path to your dream job, or are you exchanging your end goal for a jump in salary? Make a physical list of the pros and cons of each position to help you visualize your options.

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Don’t Settle

It can be tempting to jump to a new job—maybe you’re restless and just looking for a change. Fully evaluate the job being offered to you and keep in mind that new doesn’t always mean improved. Are you exchanging a negligible salary increase for a longer commute and stingier vacation time? Sometimes when we swap jobs we get the impression that any change means upward movement, but critically assess if the new offer is a lateral move. Patience is key here. Don’t feel pressured to accept a new offer immediately—weigh the pros and cons of each, and absolutely take at least one night to sleep on it before coming to a conclusion. Although you can ask the advice of trusted friends and family, know that it’s only you who can truly determine what’s best—trust your instincts.

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