Make a Call on Quitting Your Job Without Any Regrets
Plenty of workers want a fresh start now, but a new gig isn’t always the answer. Here are things to consider before firing off a farewell email.
Plenty of workers want a fresh start now, but a new gig isn’t always the answer. Here are things to consider before firing off a farewell email.
It feels like everyone’s doing it.
In the United States, more than 7.5 million workers quit their jobs in April and May, up from 4.3 million during the same period the year before. Everyone’s talking about fresh starts. Burnout, the return-to-office mandate, boredom after a year of career stagnation: They can all seem like good enough reasons to send that farewell email.
But is leaving your job right now the right call? How do you make a decision you won’t regret?
More than a third of workers are looking for a new job, according to a May survey of 1,021 Americans from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Anthony Klotz, a management professor at Texas A&M University who studies resignations, says “turnover shocks”—being passed over for a promotion, watching a close colleague resign—often spark an employee’s desire to leave.
In these times, we’ve all basically experienced a turnover shock, he says. “So much change has happened over the last year that in some way or another we’ve thought, ‘Is this what I want to keep doing, in my life and my job?’”
Still, he recommends employees slow down and think hard before walking. Nearly a quarter of more than 1,000 workers polled by staffing firm Accountemps in 2017 said they had regrets about leaving former jobs. We often quit because we think a new gig will solve the 20% of our job that currently bugs us, Dr. Klotz says. And it might, at first.
“There’s that honeymoon period, and then you realize, ‘Oh, this company has a different set of problems,’” he says.
Consider the alternatives. Can you tweak the responsibilities of the role you have to make it a better fit? If you’re burned out, would a leave of absence help? For those desperate to hold on to remote work, Dr. Klotz recommends testing out life at the office for a couple of weeks. Maybe you’ll be shocked to find you love wearing real pants again and seeing other adults during the day. Or not—but at least you’ll know for sure before you resign.
Several years ago, Sam Jacobs left a job in a hurry. His company, a New York City tech startup, was struggling financially. His days as a sales executive began to fill with talk of pay cuts, layoffs and dwindling cash on hand. Meanwhile, a new company backed by high-profile investors was recruiting him, offering a sexy C-suite title.
“It felt like I needed to get off the sinking ship,” Mr. Jacobs says. He took the new job.
A few months later, he received a barrage of text messages. His previous company, righted by new management, had been sold. Friends and professional contacts offered their congratulations, unaware that he’d given up his stock options when he left. He’d missed out on about a million dollars, he estimates. Worse yet, he was struggling in the new role.
“In the moment, I had a horrible feeling,” he says. “It just felt like I couldn’t make a right decision.”
Now the CEO of Pavilion, a professional networking and training community, his default advice to those unsure about quitting is: Stay. Often you’ve built up your reputation and trust with colleagues at your current company. You know how to get stuff done there.
“When you take on a new job, there’s risk built into it,” he says. “There’s so much that happens if you just stick around.”
Anthony Gonzalez was torn about whether to leave his job at advertising technology company Smartly.io in San Francisco in late 2019. He knew how lucky he was to be friends with his colleagues and feel no anxiety on Sundays about the start of the workweek. But another firm, which specialized in digital marketing for the travel industry, approached him with the promise of a significant pay bump and a bigger team. He said yes. Five months later, with the pandemic ravaging travel, he was laid off.
His shock soon gave way to introspection. He realized he wanted to be closer to family, and moved home to the Miami area. Most companies he interviewed with wanted him back in San Francisco. But his old bosses at Smartly.io offered him a new role that could be done remotely.
“If I had not taken this journey, this wouldn’t have been on the table for me,” he says.
He has some regrets about leaving. He’s now reporting to someone who used to be a peer. But he’s happy with where he landed, and grateful for the perspective shift.
“I feel like a lot of times I was making decisions for all the wrong reasons,” he says.
To be sure, sometimes leaving is the answer: to a toxic boss, unsustainable hours or a can’t-miss opportunity. And even with obvious red flags in their current jobs, humans can be too scared of transitions to make a move.
Katy Milkman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and author of the book, “How to Change,” says people tend to escalate their commitment to everything from jobs to relationships, even when they’re not working out.
As a result, she says, “You don’t optimize. You don’t achieve as much.”
So if you’ve made your pros-and-cons list, fully considered all the potential downsides of leaving and are still completely torn? It might be worth just going for it.
When Stacy Lightfoot started the application process to become the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s first vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, she was scared. Her job at the time was at a nonprofit, not a higher-education institution. And after more than 12 years, she was comfortable there.
But the impact she could have at the university, especially as the first Black woman to hold a cabinet-level position, felt big. She prepped tirelessly for round after round of interviews, including one marathon session this spring with members of the campus community.
“It was about an hour into that interview that I heard myself,” she says, and realized how ready she was for the role, if it was to be hers. “I told myself that I could do this.”
She started the job a few weeks ago. It’s going great.
Following the devastation of recent flooding, experts are urging government intervention to drive the cessation of building in areas at risk.
Private club memberships and luxury cars are some of freebies on the table.
When Ryan Wolitzer was looking to buy an apartment in Miami Beach late last year, several beachfront properties caught his eye. All were two-bedroom homes in high-end buildings with amenities aplenty and featured glass walls, high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. But only The Continuum, in the city’s South of Fifth district, came with a gift: a membership to Residence Yacht Club, a private club that offers excursions on luxury yachts ranging from a day in south Florida to a month around the Caribbean. Residents receive heavily discounted charters on upscale boats that have premier finishes and are stocked with top shelf spirits and wine. Mr. Wolitzer, 25, who works for a sports agency, was sold.
“The access to high-end yachts swayed my decision to buy at The Continuum and is an incentive that I take full advantage of,” Mr. Wolitzer said. “It’s huge, especially in my business when I am dealing with high-profile sports players, to be able to give them access to these incredible boats where they experience great service. I know that they’ll be well taken care of.”
Freebies and perks for homeowners such as a private club membership are a mainstay in the world of luxury real estate and intended to entice prospective buyers to sign on the dotted line.
According to Jonathan Miller, the president and chief executive of the real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel, they’re primarily a domestic phenomenon.
In the U.S. residential real estate market, gifts are offered by both developers who want to move apartments in their swanky buildings and individuals selling their homes. They range from modest to over-the-top, Mr. Miller said, and are more prevalent when the market is soft.
“When sales lag, freebies increase in a bid to incentivize buyers,” he said. “These days, sales are slowing, and inventory is rising after two years of being the opposite, which suggests that we may see more of them going forward.”
Many of these extras are especially present in South Florida, Mr. Miller said, where the market is normalizing after the unprecedented boom it saw during the pandemic. “The frenzy in South Florida was intense compared with the rest of the country because it became a place where people wanted to live full time,” he said. “Now that the numbers are inching toward pre-pandemic levels, freebies could push wavering buyers over the finish line.”
Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a real estate salesperson for Douglas Elliman in Miami and New York, said that the gifts that she has encountered in her business include everything from yacht access and use of a summer house to magnums of pricey wine. “One person I know of who was selling a US$5 million house in the Hamptons even threw in a free Mercedes 280SL,” she said. “They didn’t want to lower the price but were happy to sweeten the deal.”
A car, an Aston Martin to be exact, is also a lure at Aston Martin Residences in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Buyers who bought one of the building’s 01 line apartments—a collection of 47 ocean-facing residences ranging in size from 325 to 362sqm and US$8.3 million to US$9 million in price—had their choice of the DBX Miami Riverwalk Special Edition or the DB11 Miami Riverwalk Special Edition. The DBX is Aston Martin’s first SUV and retails for around US$200,000. It may have helped propel sales given that all the apartments are sold out.
The US$59 million triplex penthouse, meanwhile, is still up for grabs, and the buyer will receive a US$3.2 million Aston Martin Vulcan track-only sports car, one of only 24 ever made.
“We want to give homeowners the chance to live the full Aston Martin lifestyle, and owning a beautiful Aston Martin is definitely a highlight of that,” said Alejandro Aljanti, the chief marketing officer for G&G Business Developments, the building’s developer. “We wanted to include the cars as part of the package for our more exclusive units.”
The US$800,000 furniture budget for buyers of the North Tower condominiums at The Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles, Florida, is another recent head-turning perk. The 94 residences sold out last year, according to president of sales Michael Goldstein, and had a starting price of US$6.3 million. “You can pick the furniture ahead of time, and when buyers move in later this year, all they’ll need is a toothbrush,” he said.
Then there’s the US$2 million art collection that was included in the sale of the penthouse residence at the Four Seasons Residences in Miami’s Brickell neighbourhood. The property recently sold for $15.9 million and spans 817sqm feet. Designed by the renowned firm ODP Architects, it features contemporary paintings and sculpture pieces from notable names such as the American conceptual artist Bill Beckley and the sculptor Tom Brewitz.
But it’s hard to top the millions of dollars of extras that were attached to the asking price in 2019 of the US$85 million 1393sqm duplex at the Atelier, in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. The list included two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Lamborghini Aventador, a US$1 million yacht with five years of docking fees, a summer stay at a Hamptons mansion, weekly dinners for two at lavish French restaurant Daniel and a live-in butler and private chef for a year. And the most outrageous of all: a flight for two to space.
It turned out that the so-called duplex was actually a collection of several apartments and a listing that went unsold. It did, however, generate plenty of buzz among the press and in real estate circles and was a marketing success, according to Mr. Miller.
“A listing like this that almost seems unbelievable with all the gifts will get plenty of eyeballs but is unlikely to push sales,” he said. “Empirically, it’s not an effective tactic.”
On the other hand, Mr. Miller said that more reasonable but still generous freebies, such as the membership to a yacht club, have the potential to push undecided buyers to go for the sale. “A nice but not too lavish gift won’t be the singular thing toward their decision but can be a big factor,” he said. “It’s a feel-good incentive that buyers think they’re getting without an extra cost.”
Examples of these bonuses include a membership to the 1 Hotel South Beach private beach club that buyers receive with the purchase of a residence at Baccarat Residences Brickell, or the one-year membership to the Grand Bay Beach Club in Key Biscayne for those who spring for a home at Casa Bella Residences by B&B Italia, located in downtown Miami and a residential project from the namesake renowned Italian furniture brand. The price of a membership at the Grand Bay Beach Club is usually a US$19,500 initiation fee and US$415 in monthly dues.
Still enticing but less expensive perks include the two-hour cruise around New York on a wooden Hemmingway boat, valued at US$1,900, for buyers at Quay Tower, at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. The building’s developer, Robert Levine, said that he started offering the boat trip in July to help sell the remaining units. “We’re close to 70% sold, but, of course, I want everything to go,” he said.
There’s also the US$1,635 Avalon throw blanket from Hermes for those who close on a unit at Ten30 South Beach, a 33-unit boutique condominium; in Manhattan’s Financial District, a custom piece of art from the acclaimed artist James Perkins is gifted to buyers at Jolie, a 42-story building on Greenwich Street. Perkins said the value of the piece depends on the home purchase price, but the minimum is US$4,000. “The higher end homes get a more sizable work,” he said.
When gifts are part of a total real estate package, the sale can become emotional and personal, according to Chad Carroll, a real estate agent with Compass in South Florida and the founder of The Carroll Group. “If the freebie appeals to the buyer, the transaction takes on a different dynamic,” he said. “A gift becomes the kicker that they love the idea of having.”
Speaking from his own experience, Mr. Carroll said that sellers can also have an emotional connection to the exchange. “I was selling my house in Golden Isles last year for US$5.4 million and included my jet ski and paddle boards,” he said. “The buyers were a family with young kids and absolutely loved the water toys.” Mr. Carroll could have held out for a higher bidder, he said, but decided to accept their offer. “I liked them and wanted them to create the same happy memories in the home that I did,” he said.
The family moved in a few months later.