40% of Americans Plan to Leave Their Jobs Soon. Should You?

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  • A McKinsey study shows 40% of Americans want to leave their jobs before the end of the year.
  • Try to understand exactly why you want to quit. This can drive your job hunt and may even help you resolve things with your current employer.
  • Start building a new job fund in addition to your emergency fund to cover your living costs while you search for a new position.

Read this before you quit your job.

Fears of an impending recession haven't dented the numbers of Americans who want to quit their jobs and move on to greener pastures. According to a recent McKinsey survey, two in five Americans want to leave their jobs in the near future. It seems as if a lot of people are re-evaluating how they view work, how they want to work, and the role they want it to play in their lives.

The McKinsey study showed that almost half the people who want to quit plan to move into a different industry altogether. Others want to switch to part time or gig work, or start their own businesses. The third group have plans to stop working in order to care for elderly relatives, children, or themselves.

Should you leave your job?

Everybody's situation is different, and the decision to quit your job comes down to your own situation. It's important to be clear on why you are quitting, what you plan to do next, and how you'll support yourself in the interim. It's all too easy to fire off an "I quit" email in the heat of the moment, but there are better ways to manage your departure. Here are some questions to consider.

1. Why are you quitting?

There are many different reasons for leaving your work, from a toxic work environment to wanting to earn more money. Being clear about the "why" can help you avoid similar situations in future jobs. It may even mean you try to resolve things with your current employer.

For example, let's say you're feeling unmotivated and want new opportunities. A new job may be the answer. But if you haven't already spoken to your boss about what you want, perhaps try that first. You may find other positions within your current company or be able to adapt your existing role. If you're struggling with an unhealthy work environment or culture that isn't right for you, that may drive your job hunt. You can focus on companies that have similar values to yours and hopefully find an environment where you're able to excel.

2. What do you plan to do next?

People used to say you shouldn't quit one job until you have another one lined up. This advice doesn't necessarily apply to the world today. However, that doesn't mean you can throw caution to the wind and hand in your notice without an idea about what's next.

If you don't have a new job in the pipeline, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you have a clear idea of what you're looking for? If you're planning to work part time rather than full time, how is that going to affect your finances? What are your career goals for the coming years?
  • If you plan to move to a new sector, will you need extra training? What skills can you transfer to the new role?
  • Is your resume up to date? If it's been a while since you last dusted it off, might you send it to a few friends to check over?
  • How will you find new opportunities? What are the best job sites for the position you want? Are there people in your network who can help? If you're going freelance, do you have some potential clients lined up?

It's always difficult to make time for job hunting while the majority of your energy goes into your existing role. Try to dedicate a small amount of time each week to your escape plan.

3. Do you have money set aside?

Before you quit your job, make sure you have a new job fund. If you know you're going to quit, the ideal scenario would be that you don't have to fall back on your emergency fund. Strictly speaking, a planned loss of income is not an emergency. However, if you do want to use your emergency savings, try to make sure it contains six to 12 months of living expenses or more.

The job market is strong right now, but we don't know whether the U.S. is about to enter a recession and what impact that might have on employment. It could take some time to find a new position, and the more cash you have in your bank account, the more flexibility you'll have when job hunting.

Work out how much you spend each month on the essentials such as rent or mortgage, utilities, food, and insurance. A budgeting app might help here. Plan out how you might cope for a prolonged period without income. If you don't have enough set aside, what costs can you cut back on for a while so you can stash more money away?

Leave on good terms

No matter how tempting it is to air all your grievances before you walk out the door, these things have a way of coming back to bite you. You may cross paths with your current colleagues again in the future, and you may need your current employer to provide a reference.

It's worth noting that a UKG study showed that 43% of people who quit during the pandemic now think they were better in their old job. Some have even gone back to the job they left. If you're going to leave your job, be professional. Work out your notice and tie up as many loose ends as possible. Take an active role in handing over your responsibilities, including training other people to do particular tasks.

Changing jobs can be rejuvenating, help you earn a higher salary, and allow you to develop new skills. Give yourself the best chance of success by going in with a plan and enough money put aside to cover your costs.

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