Some jobs make you eager to go to work. Others don’t, to put it mildly. Persevering and working through problems can redeem the situation, up to a point, but sometimes leaving is the best solution. How can you tell? When is it time to quit your job?
Some reasons are obvious: Your partner has accepted a job in another city, necessitating relocation. You decide to go back to school for a graduate degree. You need better health coverage for your family or more pay.
This post is focused on more complex reasons. Each one exhibits warning signs that intensify until a move is the only workable option for your own good. Only you will know when you have reached that point.
When is it time to quit your job?
When you’ve outgrown your current job
When children outgrow their shoes, their feet hurt, movement is restricted, and malformation can occur if they stay in tight shoes too long. When you have outgrown your job, first it will irritate, then it will do real damage to your motivation, skill development, and leadership potential.
“When I talk to workers who are unhappy in their jobs the underlying issue is that they are bored,” writes career expert Kerry Hannon. We all get bored occasionally; she’s talking about something more serious. When most of your days are mind-numbingly monotonous, count it as a signal to start looking for a job with a company that puts value on developing their employees’ full potential.
If you can’t see options, it’s time to create some. Reassess your strengths and experience, create a plan to fill any gaps, decide what you want, and then take the first step toward it.
→ What to try first:
Ask to be included on a team with whom you have not previously worked. Offer to take the lead on a project that will stretch you. Propose a new process. Tell your supervisor that you desire more opportunities for growth.
If your ideas and requests are ignored, refresh your resume and call a recruiter.
When your work environment is toxic
Toxic is a synonym for poisonous. The best remedy for poison is to avoid it. If toxicity has already been introduced, an antidote is needed. Traces of poison will continue to have a negative effect on a person or an environment.
Supervisors who are bullies create toxic work environments. They criticize their direct reports in public and private. They change expectations midstream, without providing the resources, tools, and time necessary to meet them. They play employees against one another instead of fostering collaboration and teamwork. They might even take credit for your work.
Take steps to limit exposure to a bully. “The longer you work for a toxic boss, the more accustomed you’ll get to bad treatment and the more you may have to rely on that supervisor for a reference in the future,” Susannah Snider and Rebekah Koenig warn in their US News and World Report article.
→ What to try first:
As an antidote to toxicity, use existing company policies and processes to bring up supervisory issues with the appropriate persons, such as human resources. Your company should have a policy for protecting employees who report harassment or other issues.
If you take these steps and nothing changes, if ruthlessness is rewarded, or if bullies are tolerated or given cover, you must remove yourself. Refresh your resume and contact a recruiter.
Practically speaking, when is it time to quit your job?
There are five very practical signs when it’s safest to move on from your current job.
- Before the stress of a toxic work environment damages your health.
- After you have a firm offer for a new job.
- When you have savings to cushion your transition.
- When your health insurance coverage will not take a hit.
- When you’ve put in your time, write Snider and Koenig, because, “a resume filled with short-term jobs, lasting less than two years, is a red flag to many employers.”