Leaving your first job isn't as impossible as it seems.
I know what it feels like to be building up the courage to leave your first job. I also know how it feels, as a manager, when someone unexpectedly hands in their notice.
I've been left upset that an incredible person is leaving and I've been irritated by someone who gave up trying as soon as the letter left their hands.
As an employee, I've struggled for months to have the guts to say I'm leaving and felt the relief of finally coming out with it.
Using these experiences, I've put together 8 golden rules you can follow if you're dreaming about quitting your first graduate job
Rule 1: Be true to yourself
Newsflash: it's OK to think about yourself and to put yourself first especially in the long term.
I'm sure you don't need reminding, but you only live once. Time goes so fast and my Dad's always saying to me that I'll be 60 before I know it!
Bearing that in mind, if not now, then when are you going to make the difference you want to make to the world?
You deserve to be happy and fulfilled and the only person that can make that happen is you. So for once, put aside the feeling that you owe your employer and think about yourself.
There are plenty more people that they could employ, but there's only one life you have to live. Know what I mean?
Rule 2: You're not stuck where you are
In a couple of year's time you'll look back and you won't even begin to understand why you stayed in your job for so long. You might think that you're stuck but really that's all it is - a thought.
You have a choice; to stay or to go. Don't let your fear hold you back and keep you in a situation that's not right for you.
Rule 3: Your boss won't be as devastated as you imagine
Companies expect their staff to move on, especially nowadays.
In Gallup's recent research "How Millennials Want to Work and Live," they found that 21% of millennial workers (people born between 1980 and 1996) had changed jobs in the last year. This is 3x more than people from other generations!
Obviously your boss would prefer you to stay, especially if you get on well and they enjoy having you around. Though if they really care about you, they'll get over the shock, understand you're doing what you need to do for you and come around to supporting your decision.
You never know, you might inspire your boss to pluck up the courage and move forwards with their life. That's what happened to me!
Rule 4: Commit to your decision
If you think (or know) that you won't pluck up the courage to let your boss know that you're leaving then go so far down the road of moving on that you can't go back.
I'm talking about getting a place on a course, telling all your family and friends about your plans or securing a new job. That way you'll actually have to go through with it!
When I handed in my notice at my first job I was terrified. The only way I could face my fear and quit my job was by buying a ticket to Costa Rica! I still put it off until the last possible minute but I did it!
Rule 5: Be open with your employer
If you're thinking of leaving and aren't happy in your job, then my experience has always been to let your boss know ASAP. I know this might not always apply (if you're worried this may lead to loosing your job) but organisations who invest a lot in their staff and who take a while to train and recruit them will be grateful for the heads up.
They might also be able to change things around for you to help you enjoy your job more. To help them with this make sure that you've thought about any specific reasons why you're not enjoying it so that they can try to solve them.
Rule 6: Be honest
On the other hand, if you're sure that there's nothing your boss can do to make you want to stay, don't waste their time letting them think that they can persuade you.
Be honest with them that it's not for you, but stay positive. Don't start complaining about everything you hate and slagging off all your colleagues! You'll need them to write your references and remember that there's still your notice period to work.
However, you should definitely give them constructive feedback. Any decent employer will want to know what they can improve or if there was anything that went wrong in their recruitment process. Just be really specific and frame it positively.
For example, if you hate your job, ask yourself why? Does it not suit your strengths? Are you looking for a job that focuses more on the areas of your work you really enjoy? Do you not like living miles from your family?
Your boss will be more understanding if you can help them get why you're making the move and that it's not personal. (Because if it was you wouldn't be feeling so bad about quitting!)
Rule 7: Don't slack off
So you've handed in your notice...time to chill out right? Wrong! Seriously wrong! Especially since this is what your boss will kind of expect you to do and will be extra vigilant when looking out for it!
You want to leave your job on a high, make your colleagues miss your contributions and ensure your boss gives you a killer reference!
Also if you're feeling bad about leaving everyone in the lurch, working extra hard for your notice period and making sure your handover is thorough will ease your guilt.
Rule 8: Have a plan
How does this rule apply if you're quitting your job without a plan? Maybe you want some time to reflect and work out what you're going to do with your life?
My response is - still have a plan! Have a plan about what you're going to do to work it out! If you don't it'll be all too easy to sink into relaxation mode and then it'll be be really hard to get yourself going again when your savings run out. (I'm speaking from experience here :) )
Plus thinking doesn't help you to decide what you want to do with your life. If I've learnt anything over the last couple of years it's that only taking action will help you work that out.
If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, now is the time to decide what you want to do next. In fact, I've created a free course just for you! It shows you how to narrow down your options and come up with 3 clear possible career paths in 7 days. Enter your details to sign up:
Quitting your first job is all about an insane moment of courage; but following these 8 golden rules will really set you up for it to be a successful and (almost) pain-free process.