Thinking About Leaving the Government?


It is a difficult and confusing time for many federal employees, especially those who work for agencies expecting large budget and/or personnel cuts. Even if you are not in one of those agencies, you may still be struggling, as the song says, “should I stay or should I go?” There are plusses and minuses to both, of course.

There’s a saying in the careers industry that you’ll know it’s time to make a job or career change when you start asking yourself if it’s time to make a change. While there is truth to that, there’s more to making your decision.

What May Make You Want to Make a Change?

The first step is to assess the reason — or reasons — why you may want to make a change. Change can be difficult — it usually is — so you want to make sure that the reason you are considering a switch isn’t something temporary that will fix itself, if given enough time.

Complete Guide to Federal Career Transitions

Some of the reasons why you may be considering a job or career change are internal reasons. These can include:

• How you feel about going to work. Do you dread getting up and going to work on Monday?
• You’re bored at work. Maybe you’ve been in your position for several years and you’re just not excited anymore about the work you’re doing.
• How you feel about your co-workers and/or boss. Do you like the people you work with? Are you appreciated for the work you do?
• Organizational politics are affecting your work. For example, the mission of your agency has shifted and it is something you are having difficulty accepting.

External factors — that you have no control over — can also impact your decision to make a job or career change. These can include:

• There’s been a change in leadership in your department or in the organization. One of the top reasons for making a job change is when you get a new boss. Maybe his or her leadership style or priorities just don’t feel right to you.
• You were asked to do the same job for less money. If you can’t afford to make less but work the same amount — or more — this may prompt you to look for a new job.
• Your workload was reduced, along with your opportunity to earn more. Perhaps your job has been downgraded or no longer has a career ladder; either of these may impact your ability to earn even the same amount as before.

Things to Consider

Even if you’ve identified the internal or external reasons that make you want to consider making a change, ask yourself this: “Is there an opportunity to improve my current situation?” As previously mentioned, some of these things may be temporary and the issue may resolve itself. But the other piece of the puzzle is you. Is there some way that you could make a change that would improve the situation?

If you feel your current situation can’t be improved, the next thing to do is develop a plan. Change can be difficult — the bigger the change, the more difficult it may be. You want to make sure you’re running towards something you want to do, and not running away from something you don’t. Being impulsive may lead you to do something you may later regret — like one of those viral “I Quit” videos that are fun to watch, but may lead to long-term ramifications when prospective employers Google your name.