Don’t let your Great Resignation become your Greatest Regret

Posted by Kurt Rakos on 4/11/22 11:00 AM
Kurt Rakos
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The role of self-awareness in making the career move that’s right for you.


A few weeks ago, my good friend and long-time colleague, Melissa Albers invited me to be a guest on The Self-Awareness Journey, the podcast she hosts with JJ Parker. She wanted to talk about The Great Resignation and how pandemic-inspired job decisions can affect our careers and, more importantly, our lives.

I loved having the opportunity to talk about this. Over the past two-plus years, we have watched wave after wave of professional-level workers walk away from some pretty perfect on-paper jobs. We probably shouldn’t be surprised. The pandemic has prompted all manner of soul-searching for so many of us. It has reawakened us to the inextricable connection between our work lives and our whole lives. It has reminded us, too, of how short life itself is, how quickly the hours and years fly by, and the importance of proceeding mindfully.

During our conversation, Melissa, JJ, and I talked about what the Great Resignation looks like from an executive recruiter’s perspective. I won't rehash it all here but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out.

As often happens after a conversation with Melissa and JJ, I couldn’t stop thinking about the ideas we’d kicked around. Twin Cities employers are struggling to hire and retain top talent. Conventional wisdom says that, when there are more open jobs than talent to fill them, it’s a candidate’s market. That’s true today, too. But it’s not that simple anymore. The truth is, this is a very tumultuous time for candidates, too.

Regrets, we’re seeing more than a few

Multiple new studies indicate that most people who left their jobs as part of the Great Resignation (or, as I explain in the podcast, what I call the Great Migration) now regret their decision. For example, a new survey just released by the career site, The Muse, found that 72% of American workers who switched employers during the pandemic are unhappy in their new roles. They’re not talking about the normal new-job jitters. They’re talking about feeling misled during the hiring process and finding themselves in jobs that do not match what they were led to believe during the hiring process.

Think about that. Nearly three out of every four of these new hires believe they’re in the wrong job. It would be easy to point to that staggering statistic as evidence that the grass is rarely greener. Or that leaving a stable, well-paid job in pursuit of greater happiness is a fool’s errand.

But I hope that’s not the lesson anyone is taking from this. My own observations tell me that, in most cases, the decision to leave a job that is robbing us of much-needed work-life balance is a courageous one. The mistake lies in how we make that decision.

In the race to solve the job problem, don’t lose sight of the real goal

If you’re wrestling with the question, “should I leave my job,” a quick hop online will avail you of an endless supply of advice on how to do it, from “resigning without burning bridges,” to “how to negotiate a job offer.” But there is precious little guidance on the one, giant question in the middle of it all:

How to figure out – as the authentic, unique individual you are – what you need from a job in order to achieve your own life goals and dreams.

That takes a little more work. But without doing that work, you risk getting trapped in the revolving door of always knowing what you’re trying to escape – but never understanding what you need to find.

When you're ready, start by using our Letter of Resignation Template, and create your own resignation letter.

What about the employer’s role in all of this

We didn’t get to this current state of affairs because 72% of all job switchers simply failed to know themselves well enough or evaluate their priorities carefully enough. Employers have contributed significantly to the problem. After years of dealing with talent shortages, many employers have begun to give in to the temptation to oversell the job they’re trying to fill. Sometimes these maneuvers take the form of slightly overstating how “awesome” everyone and everything are. These exaggerations seem small and benign. (They never are.) But sometimes, they are blatantly misleading. They range from work-from-home promises that never pan out to puffed-up job titles that are virtually unrelated to the responsibilities of the actual job.

Sure, these efforts work for the employer – for a minute or two. But once the new hire comes to the painful realization that they feel duped, they’ll be mentally checkout until they’re physically gone. Worse, they’ll undermine your employer's brand every time they describe the bait-and-switch they believe they experienced.

If you would like to begin or continue your own self-awareness journey, take a look at what Melissa and JJ have to say. If you’re ready to talk about a job change – or if you’re a hiring manager looking for talented candidates to join your team – please reach out. We would love to talk with you!


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Topics: For Job Seekers, Human Resources