Five Good Reasons to Quit Your Job
Everyone has bad days at work. We all have cycles when our jobs are boring, frustrating, or too stressful. We can start to ponder quitting, even checking out job sites or Linked In to see what’s out there. It ends up being a very tough judgment call — when is the time right to move on?
There’s no shortage of advice from recruiters and HR experts on the topic, and it’s often contradictory. Some advise that, unless you’re extremely miserable, you should try to stay the course to build a resume that shows longevity and progression. Others say that the landscape has changed, and tenure can even be a negative. The average time in a job is now only 4.4 years, and about half that for young workers.
If the Millennial mindset of job hopping seems counterintuitive to building a career, it does have its upsides. By leaving a job when they feel bored or dissatisfied, Millennials may be more likely to ultimately find fulfillment at work. In this article for Forbes.com, Jeanne Meister points out that by staying in a workplace for just a few years at a time, you don’t have to worry about stagnating in a position or waiting for a promotion that may never come.
I’d say the verdict is still out. While it’s acceptable to see job hopping when people are young and exploring, it has a stigma for experienced professionals who are expected to show adaptability and advancement. Melanie Pinola at Lifehacker.com offers a great look at both sides of the argument, and presents some compelling pros and cons. She offers that, in the end, you’re going to have to come up with a compelling story to sell yourself — whether from gaining experience at many companies or only one. Whatever you do, make sure it makes sense.
Beyond considering the number of years you should stay in a job, there are many other factors to weigh. Gallup research shows that the top predictors of turnover are: a bad direct manager, poor job fit, co-workers not dedicated to quality, unsatisfactory pay and benefits, and a lack of connection to a broader purpose. Note that all of these, with the exception of pay which is cited more often from those who are already disengaged, involve the desire to do great work.
When we’re not able to do work that we believe in, that challenges us, and that’s meaningful in some way, then we’re going to lose satisfaction. As I wrote about here, there are certain motivating factors that make us make us happy at work, rather than simply tolerating our job.
With all that said, there are good reasons to leave your job, no matter how long you’ve been there.
1. Your job is affecting your health or causing extreme stress.
The research is clear that stress impacts our health and capacity in insidious and dangerous ways. We all have stress, but when it starts to feel unsustainable, then it’s time to go. The Mayo Clinic’s website has a helpful list of common symptoms related to stress. If your job is causing these, it’s not worth it.
2. There’s nowhere to advance.
There’s an expected rhythm to a career, where we take on more responsibility, get new challenges, and increase our income. While it doesn’t have to be this linear — many people make work-life tradeoffs at various times — there still should be potential at your job.
If you find yourself topped out at your job, without any advancement opportunity, then it’s a good reason to start looking. If you like your job, it can be easy to become complacent. But beware. Having a long stint at a job with no sign of advancement can hurt you in the end. Perhaps that’s why, according to Gallup, it’s the #1 reason that people leave.
3. Your job isn’t letting you grow your skills.
Even if you can’t get promoted, it can be advantageous to stay at a job if you’re continuing to learn and expand your skills. Working at small, entrepreneurial companies often fall into this category, where there’s not a management track but a lot of cross-functional learning. It goes back to the Gallup research that people want to be able to do great work. So when your job stops providing opportunities to try new roles or take on challenges, it may be time to update your resume. One caveat: make sure that you’ve fully explored the opportunities at your current company. It’s an all-too-frequent occurrence that employers find out what employees want in the exit interview, when they would have been amenable the whole time. It’s a missed opportunity all around so don’t hold back from asking for what you want.
4. You’re living with chronic uncertainty.
This is a nuanced point because you could argue that all companies operate with uncertainty in these uncertain times. However, some are mired in uncertainty to the point that it’s running the culture. These are organizations that are always up for sale, or continually downsizing, or in shrinking markets.
While it might be noble to stay on board and try to help the transition, often you have to save yourself. There’s a reason that the best performers leave when a company is in transition. They know that it’s better to be somewhere else that has a line of sight to the future. When that’s gone, the chronic uncertainty shuts down opportunities for everyone in a perpetual “wait and see.” It’s wearing, and hard to come back from.
5. You’ve mentally checked out.
Whether for lack of growth or boredom, sometimes employees just check out. You know when this happens to you as you stop innovating, stretching or bringing energy. You cease to care.
This treading water can seem like it’s your own private thought, but it shows. It’s a drag on the entire organization to have workers just going through the motions, and it’s even worse on your own career. Instead of keeping your head down, put some energy into finding a job you can be passionate about again.
That’s what we really crave, and why you’re probably reading this article in the first place.
Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. Find her at kristihedges.com and @kristihedges.
This post also appears on Forbes.com
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