If you’ve been thinking about leaving your current job, you’re not alone. Around the globe, people are embracing all kinds of change – both personal and professional.
A phenomenon dubbed the “Pandemic Flux Syndrome” has left many of us seeking escape from the relentless uncertainty of pandemic life. For some people, that escape has taken the form of shutting themselves down and sleeping more, to avoid dealing with the world’s constant state of flux. For others, escape has meant seeking dramatic change, like moving across the country or leaving a job without having a new one lined up.
We’ve written about the Great Resignation before. While the Pandemic Flux Syndrome may be responsible for some people leaving their jobs, there are other reasons for this upheaval as well. As the call comes to return to the office, some people are hesitant. They may be anxious about yet another change in routine or about the vaccination status of their coworkers. They may have reconsidered what’s important to them and recalibrated their work/life balance. As a result of all these factors, Microsoft estimates that 41 percent of employees around the globe are thinking about leaving their current positions as part of the Great Resignation.
If you’re one of them, we recommend that you pause and consider how the pandemic has changed the way we work, and the way we look for work. As the future unfolds, the process for securing a new job will shift. We have some tips to help you prepare.
Quit Your Job In The Best Possible Way
Like Johnny Paycheck, many of us have had jobs where we secretly dream about telling our boss, “Take this job and shove it/I ain’t working here no more.” Needless to say, this is a bad idea.
Leaving on a high note reflects well on you and can help in your future job searches. Of course, it can help to ensure that your manager provides good references. But it also leaves the door open for your return at the same company and can lead to employment opportunities at other companies as well (if, for example, a coworker provides your name to a recruiter).
We do recommend that before giving notice, you have a frank discussion with your manager about why you are thinking about leaving. If you’re concerned about a return to the office or your work/life balance, your manager may have workable solutions for you. Many companies are preparing for the continuation of a remote workforce or for the implementation of a hybrid model of employment that blends in-person and remote work. Other options include working part time, doing freelance work, or taking a sabbatical. If you’re seeking better opportunities or higher pay, it’s possible your manager will present you with a counter offer.
If, after talking to your manager, you decide that leaving your current position is your best choice, there are several steps that you should work through before you hand in your keys and parking pass. We’ve detailed that process in our blog about how to quit your job but the short version is:
- Clean out your work computer by removing all personal and unnecessary files, backing up the files that you leave behind, clearing your browser history, cache, and saved logins, and emptying the recycling bin.
- Write a polite formal resignation letter that expresses gratitude.
- Give your resignation letter to your manager in person.
- Provide sufficient notice (usually two weeks but more time may be expected for upper management positions and roles that are hard to fill).
- Create a transition plan for your team.
- Talk to HR about any benefits and payouts owing to you.
- Pack up your personal items.
- Prepare for an exit interview.
- Ask for references.
- Wish your colleagues a pleasant goodbye.
A smooth and positive exit from a job can take a bit of effort but it’s well worth it.
Be Prepared For Vaccination Requirements
Vaccination against COVID-19 is a polarizing issue. Among the many facets of that issue is the largely-held belief that medical information is legally protected as confidential. Many people believe that, under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), businesses have no legal right to ask whether their customers or employees have been vaccinated.
In fact, HIPAA legislates what health care providers can share about your health record. It does not impact what people can ask you about your health record. Legally, businesses may ask for proof of vaccination and citizens cannot use HIPAA as a justification for not providing that information.
In addition to it being legally permissible for private businesses to ask whether employees and customers have been vaccinated, it is also legal for private businesses to mandate COVID-19 vaccines. As reported by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “private employers who wish to require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 can do so with little legal risk, provided they comply with accommodation requirements, confidentiality, and any other legal obligations.”
Further, federal legislation is being developed that will require private employers with a workforce of 100 employees or more to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for their workers. On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden announced that an emergency temporary standard is being developed by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to that effect.
While federal law should trump state law, there are some exceptions. Some states have enacted laws that prohibit private businesses and/or government entities from requiring proof of vaccination. At the time of writing, South Carolina, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida were among those states that have enacted laws to prohibit asking for proof of vaccination, which means that vaccination cannot be mandated by employers.
Some employers have been bypassing the issue of mandating a COVID-19 vaccine by strongly encouraging their employees to get it. That encouragement may even take the form of financial incentives, ranging from paid time off to get the vaccine to company gift cards for those who present proof of vaccination to the chance to win significant lottery prizes, such as Amazon’s corporate lottery. Valued at almost $2 million dollars in total, the lottery provides vaccinated Amazon employees with the chance to win cash prizes up to $500,000, new vehicles, and vacation packages.
If you begin looking for a new job at this time, you need to be aware that employers in most states may legally ask your vaccination status and may legally require proof of vaccination before hiring you.
Consider Freelance Work
If you found remote work enjoyable during the pandemic, you may wish to consider becoming an independent contractor or freelancer. Not only does freelancing often allow you to work from home, supporting the new work/life balance that many of us discovered during the pandemic, but it allows you to choose to work on only those projects that truly interest you.
Further, as a piece at Forbes points out, freelancing can provide multiple income streams, ultimately making it more financially stable than working for a single employer. And, since freelancers became eligible for unemployment benefits due to the CARES Act during the pandemic, and as health benefits are shifting to become more portable, freelancing provides more income stability than ever before.
If you haven’t thought about freelancing before, it’s a good time to do so.
Prepare For Virtual Interviewing, Hiring, and Onboarding
By necessity, in the early days of the pandemic, some companies switched heavily – or even exclusively – to virtual hiring.
While virtual interviewing has been practiced for several years, prior to the pandemic it was still a bit of a novelty, often reserved for candidates who would have had to travel to an in-person interview. If you didn’t change jobs during the pandemic, there’s a good chance that you’ve never had a video interview.
To prepare for an online interview, check out this in-depth guide on our blog, which offers advice on:
- Testing out various live video platforms prior to the interview.
- Configuring your hardware to eliminate or minimize the impact of hardware failure.
- Setting up the best internet connection.
- Creating a professional interview space in your home.
In addition to interviewing remotely, some businesses may choose to conduct the entire hiring process online. They may present their offer virtually, ask you to sign and return your letter of offer online, and even complete the onboarding process virtually.
And, of course, it goes without saying that your new job may be in an online or hybrid work environment. A blog piece from pwc.com (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) states that due to its overwhelming success and popularity during the pandemic, hybrid work is here to stay, with “office employees rotat[ing] in and out of offices configured for shared spaces.”
If you’re gearing up for a job switch, there’s much more to take into consideration than there used to be. Changing jobs is no longer just a professional choice where you consider how your career goals align with a company’s culture. Instead, job choices are becoming much more personal, allowing you to think about how to best achieve your optimal work/life balance and forcing you to consider highly ethical questions around vaccination requirements. If you decide to take the plunge, you will find that the job search process has shifted a little during the course of the pandemic. By preparing in advance, you may smooth the path. We wish you well as you set off.