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Use this checklist before you quit your job

A person with painted nails, holding a box full of desk item hands over a written resignation.

Learn how education can serve as the launching pad

By Carly Johansen

If you clicked to read this story, you’ve probably thought about quitting your job, at least briefly, within the last week or two. Research shows that workplace satisfaction is highly linked to well-being, so taking action may be in your best interest.

Every gig has its ups and downs, and even your dream job will have its challenges. But if you’re having more “down” days than “up,” you might want to consider quitting your job.

Enter, upskilling.

This tactic of building your skills to meet the demands of the job market can help you home in on what’s next for you. By adopting an upskilling mindset, you can work toward your goals through career-building educational opportunities — like the microcredentials delivered online by Oregon State University.

So before you submit your two weeks’ notice or send that email to your boss, take a deep breath and set yourself up for success first. Use the checklist below to get ready.

1. Consider what you need, want and hope to avoid

It’s a good idea to write down the qualities of the type of role you’d be happy with. Explore career pathways through sites like Glassdoor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook or the Oregon State Ecampus Career Hub to find out how to move toward your professional goals.

Also take note of anything that you don’t want to be doing. You may not find something that ticks all of your “want” boxes, but you’ll know a red flag when you see one down the line.

Then, consider whether you can find the role you’re looking for in your current organization (or if you want it to be). If you’re on the fence about moving on, consider writing a pros and cons list for staying or leaving your company. The main takeaway? Don’t quit your job without a plan.

2. Find gaps in your résumé

Once you’ve determined what you’d like to do next, set out to identify any gaps you may have in your résumé. You can do this by exploring job listings on sites like Indeed, local listings or any organization’s career opportunities page. Pay special attention to both minimum and preferred qualifications, any specific programs or skills listed and even any responsibilities listed in the job description.

You can also explore labor market insight tools to help identify core competencies for any desired role, or you can connect with others in your desired role through networking sites like LinkedIn or relevant professional organizations.

If you have some college credits but no degree and haven’t had the chance to finish it, check out degree completion programs like Oregon State University’s online bachelor’s in applied humanities. This program is designed to give you a flexible and affordable pathway to complete your degree, including a completion scholarship for your final 12 online credits.

3. Skill up with education

Once you’ve figured out where you’re headed and what you need to get there, you’re ready to take action. It’s time to fill those gaps in your résumé with skill development.

One option for professional skill-building is pursuing a microcredential online. Microcredentials consist of courses bundled together that allow learners to gain practical, in-demand skills in a variety of topics and earn a digital badge upon completion. Still have questions about microcredentials? Check out this recent piece, covering the topic from A-Z.

With microcredentials, you can also try out new areas of work that you might be interested in before you make the career leap. Explore sports business or engineering management – whatever you think you might enjoy long term. Some schools, like Oregon State, place high value on helping you develop practical skills in your online coursework. That means you’ll gain experience in realistic work scenarios, so you’ll be on the fast track toward résumé gold.

A woman in a blazer shakes a man's hand as a promotion is granted.

Many corporations would rather hire from within, so they opt for upskilling their workforce. See how it can work »

“With the microcredential options, I can explore my interests while also building a portfolio of various specializations,” says Melissa Whitney, a current Oregon State business of viral content creation microcredential student.

Many employers offer financial support for professional development through education, and some even These are a great way for employers to improve retention and hire from within. This allows students to focus more on school and less on finances.

So if you haven’t spoken to your manager about how you’re thinking of quitting your job, consider asking about opportunities. Beyond letting them know your intentions, your manager is likely to know a lot about organizational structure, internal openings and possible financial support for professional development.

4. Build professional connections

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The reality of the idiom is that professional growth is more of a combination of the two. So while you’re building your practical knowledge in online coursework, you should be building your professional network, too.

One of the great things about learning online from a university like Oregon State is that your classmates come from all stages of life, meaning your group project partners could work at your dream company. And the faculty you learn from are likely to have industry connections and share helpful life experience.

Networking can help you discover your next career move, and being in a learning environment is one of the best places to make connections.

5. Update your professional credentials

You’ve done the work. Now it’s time to document all of the goals you’ve met and any new credentials you’ve earned.

If you’re sharing a digital badge from a microcredential on your résumé, highlight the skills you’ve gained, and consider putting them in perspective with examples of how you’ve applied each one.

If you’re ready to apply for new jobs, the best way to hone your résumé vocabulary is to use the job listing for a position you’re interested in. Remember, you should never submit an identical r

Be sure that any updates you make to your professional documents are also reflected in your digital presence on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed or ZipRecruiter. Many career-related sites have the option to let recruiters know you’re open to work, so be sure to explore these options once you update your credentials.

6. Quit your job when you’re ready

Don’t wait to take action because you’re on the hunt for your dream job or ideal timing. No risk worth taking was ever 100% safe.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to create an environment for career exploration for yourself through open communication and a learning mindset.

Educating yourself and doing your due diligence is never going to hurt your professional opportunities.

Ready to skill up?

Explore Ecampus microcredentials

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