Abby (not her real name) woke up during lockdown one day dreading the idea of having to work a job she took pride in for the last six years. With glassy eyes in the quiet of her room, it hit her—it was time to quit.
Prior to the pandemic, Abby felt there was no reason to resign from a job that fulfilled all her childhood dreams. That is, until the demands of work during lockdown drove her mental health to deteriorate.
“The pandemic taught me how to value both my physical and mental health, and when the latter was suffering—to the point that I couldn’t eat, sleep, or even breathe properly at times—I just knew that I had to do it. And it had to be now,” she said.
Pandemic burnout is real
According to Summit Publishing Human Resources Officer Clara Villaluz, employees are taking the leap even during a risky time. Pay and career growth are taken into consideration when moving jobs, but more workers find themselves shifting priorities during the lockdown.
“Another reason why employees decide to move is that they want to take care of their mental health and would like to be in a culture where this is also nourished,” Villaluz added.
As her mouse hovered over the send button on her resignation e-mail, Abby couldn’t help but think she was so weak for quitting her job when the pandemic had left millions jobless.
It’s a sentiment Lisa (also not her real name), who just moved companies, shares; “Not everyone has that privilege to just quit and live a new life. But if you can make the move and actually live a better life, well, go ahead. No one should stop you.”
Tight budgets pushed her team to take on more work with less people. Lisa was doing more, but her paycheck didn’t reflect it. On top of her regular shift, Lisa had to take side-jobs just to survive. She spiralled into stagnation.
“Di ko na talaga kita yung future ko dun, as in parang time loop na lang yung parang na-eenvision ko dun every time I think about if I should stay or not,” she said.
She had to face the fact that quitting meant passing on work to a lean team, “Lowkey na-guilty ako dahil I feel like I’m abandoning them,” she said.
“But I just went back to the reason why I was doing it: I was doing it to stay healthy and sane. I was doing it for me,” Abby added.
So you’ve decided to leave. How do you do it?
Say goodbye clearly
“Transparency is the best approach when talking to your boss about the possibility of leaving,” Villaluz said.
“It's a good opportunity for you to lay down the factors why you feel that it's time for a move and, it may also help your boss understand where you're at now. It may also help your boss assess if there is anything they can improve on to help their team maneuver through this lockdown,” she said.
Figure out what you want
Ask yourself why you’re quitting, and what you want from the next job.
“Since switching jobs may be considered risky during lockdown, might as well choose the opportunity that would make the risk worthwhile; like allowing you to earn more, or to work remotely, or to be given a bigger responsibility, or whichever your main reason for exploring is,” Villaluz said.
Weigh your choices
Assess your situation before sending that resignation letter. “Write down the pros and cons to weigh the risk you’re taking,” Abby advised.
“It’s either you’re making the biggest mistake of your life or you’re making the best decision at the perfect time. You really have to evaluate where you are in life mentally, emotionally, and financially so just in case things go south, you’re ready to bounce back,” she added.
“Choosing to switch jobs during a time of the pandemic can be intimidating at first but, if it's something you've thought through and is in line with your career path or goals then it may be something worth trying,” Villaluz said.
There are more options
Lockdown restrictions moved work from offices to homes, allowing companies to expand offers to candidates who live far away.
“Now that everything is online, as long as the employees can be reached easily and can do the jobs assigned to them, we can consider them for our vacancies,” Villaluz said.
If you decide to dive into the world of freelancing like Abby, you’ll have to master the art of steering the ship by yourself. “You have to have a lot of discipline and also learn how to manage your time. It’s important to know how much client work you can accept so you don’t burn out,” she said.
What about interviews and onboarding?
Aside from decent internet connection, it’s best to go online a few minutes before the actual interview to address any possible technical difficulties you may encounter, Villaluz said.
“Lagging and delays are common so don't be afraid to ask your interviewer to repeat a question or repeat what they said during the interview because it will also help you in answering during the call,” she said.
“As with any interview, make sure that you've researched about the company and the position that you're applying for before your interview schedule. This shows that you are really interested in the opportunity and you made an effort to know more about the company,” Villaluz added.
In terms of requirements, most of it can be done online, with HR departments providing applicants more time to gather documents in case government offices are closed due to lockdown. Villaluz said offices and candidates are “constantly evolving as we think of new ways to adapt to the lockdown.”
Champion your other skills
“Since almost all transactions are done online, being digital savvy is a skill that our team looks for in almost all positions that we're working on. Being highly adaptable is also one of the skills that we seriously factor in,” Villaluz said.
Thanks to side-jobs, Lisa was able to learn how to do other things beyond the scope of her full-time job, which enabled her to secure her current job.
Freelancer Abby spent the time at home trying everything she could under the sun, which in turn helped her navigate the strange, new world of working by herself.
“Being able to think outside the box when it comes to the process we've grown accustomed to, helped in improving how we do our work now,” Villaluz added.
You get final say
“Don’t forget the reason why you want to resign. You only have one life, so don’t stay in a job that you want to leave every time you clock in,” Abby said.
“Lahat tayo naghihirap especially yung mga companies that are trying to keep us afloat, pero if there are better opportunities for you, please [leave for a new job],” Lisa said.
*Names were changed to protect the identity of subjects