Most people are creatures of habit and resistant to change. That’s especially true when it comes to employment, where many people will remain at the same job long after they’ve grown frustrated with the position. After all, leaving a job can be a worrisome proposition. Concerns about money and fear of the unknown can prevent many workers from even thinking about quitting their current jobs. For true job satisfaction, however, it is important to know when to quit your job.
And make no mistake – there are times when quitting is the best option. In this post, we will explain the advantages of knowing when to quit and look at 10 key signs that you should be looking for new opportunities. We’ll also provide some key tips to help you make sure that it’s really time to quit.
Why it’s important to know when to quit your job
It’s sometimes difficult to believe that there was ever a time when someone would find a job right out of school and stick with that company until retirement. These days, the average American holds roughly twelve different jobs over the course of their career, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, modern careers are not always as linear as many people think. It’s rare for most people to enjoy steady career progression without at least some lateral movement – or even a complete career change. In short, chances are that you will need to move from one job to another at some point.
It is also important to know when to quit your job if you want to avoid career stagnation. If you’ve set strong career goals – and we certainly encourage you to do just that – then you’ll need to learn to recognize the right time to shift from one position to another. Otherwise, you could get complacent and stay in one position for too long, potentially harming your career advancement in the process.
10 signs that may indicate that it’s time to find a new job
So, how can you learn to recognize when you need to quit your job? Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that can help you make that decision. There are also no hard and fast rules that you can follow to get it right every time. Still, there are some signs that you can learn to recognize to help you make those career decisions. Let’s explore 10 of the most important signs that may help you recognize when to quit your job.
1. If you find that your skills are underused
Though it can be difficult to know when to quit your job, it’s always a bad sign when you feel as though your skills are undervalued and underused. You have specific skills that you want to utilize, and it can be frustrating when your employer doesn’t allow you to leverage those talents. Even worse, many skills can deteriorate over time if you’re not using them. Ultimately, that could negatively impact your value as an employee in a long-term way and prevent you from reaching your career goals.
If you have been working at a company for some time, and your bosses still don’t give you the responsibility you need, then it is probably time to think about moving on.
2. When your work days are boring
Obviously, no one ever said that work was always going to be enjoyable. However, it should at least present some type of challenge every day. Boredom is one of those things that happens from time to time, but it shouldn’t be the norm. If each day seems like the one before, then there is a good chance that it’s time to quit your job.
3. If your boss is a nightmare
Sometimes it’s easy to know when to quit your job. For example, if you work at a company where the boss is an absolute nightmare, then you may have few other options. It has often been said that people don’t quit their jobs; they quit bad bosses. That’s a simplified way of suggesting that most people who quit their jobs are doing so to get away from bad bosses – not because they’ve just decided that they no longer like their career choices.
That is largely true. A tyrannical, abusive, or unappreciative boss can make your life miserable. So, if you’re convinced that your employer is just a bad boss, then it’s almost certainly time to move on to better things.
4. When your growth is being stifled
You deserve to grow and advance in your position. To do that, you need to be in a position that enables you to learn new skills, further develop your abilities, and grow as both an employee and a human being.
Think about that for a second. Is your job offering you opportunities to improve your skills, or become a greater asset? Are you learning new things? Is there room for advancement in your current job – even if it’s just taking on new responsibilities or new challenges? If you’ve been working in the same role for many months without any noticeable growth or advancement, you should probably consider an exit from the job.
5. When the workplace is toxic
In addition to a bad boss, it may just be that your entire workplace is toxic. Employees deserve to work in a healthy atmosphere, where mutual respect and shared goals are the norm. Unfortunately, toxic work environments are all too common and can be found in every type of industry around the world. That type of environment can negatively impact nearly every area of your life. It increases stress, can make you physically ill, and may even cause you to question your career path.
If you feel burdened by an environment where gossip, verbal abuse, disdain, or other negative conduct and emotions hold sway, then that’s probably not the best workplace atmosphere for you. If you stay, your job may eventually dampen your enthusiasm and crush your desire to grow and improve.
6. When your job role no longer inspires or motivates you
Sometimes we just grow out of our roles. That can cause a loss of inspiration and motivation, as we find that everything becomes mundane. If your role at the company no longer holds your interest, then talk to your employer about a change. Perhaps you will find that the company will provide new responsibilities that offer new challenges.
The fact is that this loss of passion is not as uncommon as some might assume. But it is something that you should deal with as soon as you can, to avoid harming your long-term career goals. You owe it to yourself and your employer to do everything you can to ensure that your passion aligns with the company’s vision. If you’re unable to achieve that in your current role, it’s time to move on to something else.
7. When you don’t feel like your company is fully invested in you
There was a time when companies invested in their employees – and often for life. Those days are gone, of course, as today’s companies and employees enjoy a more transactional relationship with one another. As we noted earlier in the post, the average worker fills a variety of different roles throughout their career. Chances are that you will too.
Nevertheless, there is a certain level of investment that every company should make in its employees. That investment includes things like ensuring that you’re fully trained for your role, integrated into the company culture, and provided with clear performance expectations. If you feel as though your firm doesn’t really care whether you’re engaged in your job, then that’s a good sign that the company is not invested in your success.
8. If the company’s values no longer align with your own
One of the keys to success in any job role is ensuring that your values align with those of your employer. That alignment can help fuel your engagement in the workplace, make it easier for you to adopt the company’s vision, and inspire you to follow the organization’s leaders and their plans. Every company demonstrates its core values through the decisions it makes in the workplace and marketplace. When those values are not in line with its employees, it can create a whole host of problems.
Sometimes, this misalignment of values can occur due to a failure to properly vet a company prior to applying. Other times, an employee’s personal values change in a way that puts them at odds with the company’s mission and vision. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: when that alignment of values is not there, you’ll struggle to fit within the company’s broader culture. Unless you’re willing to compromise your own core values, it’s probably time to look for new employment.
9. When you identify opportunities that can advance your career
One of the biggest impediments to career advancement occurs when people fail to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. No matter how long you’ve been at your current job, there is no harm in considering an exit if a much better opportunity comes your way. This is true regardless of how much you enjoy your current work environment, team, or position. Any time you have a solid chance to advance your career interests could be a good time to make a career move.
Knowing when to quit your job in this instance can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’re not unhappy where you are. However, you should always take time to evaluate your career goals and track your progress toward those objectives. The opportunity for a substantial increase in compensation, benefits, and professional fulfillment should never be dismissed out of hand.
10. If you realize that you can no longer imagine yourself in that role five years from now
When you think about your current job, can you really picture yourself in the same position five years in the future? Or even two years? If you don’t see long-term potential with your current company, then that could be a sign that you need to think about looking for other opportunities. Obviously, if you can’t imagine being in that role long-term, then your career goals still lie ahead of you. Now is as good a time as any to start planning for a move.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you must quit your job today – unless you’re miserable in your current position. What it does mean, though, is that you should be researching and reviewing your options to see what type of opportunities you’re currently missing. Remember, the job search process can take time, especially when you’re looking for a position that advances your career. Starting that search now can help to ensure that you identify your next opportunity before you completely lose interest in your current role.
Tips to help you ensure that it’s really time to quit – and then leave the right way
But what if you’re not sure if you need to leave your job right now? After all, everyone goes through rough patches at work, and you wouldn’t want to move on without being sure that it’s the right thing to do. The good news is that there are some things you can do to make sure that you’re not just reacting to a perceived issue that may resolve itself. The following tips can help with that process, and properly prepare you to leave if that ends up being the best option.
Speak to your boss
If there are problems at work, it’s often wise to speak with your boss before you just move on. After all, if you feel like your skills are not being properly utilized or you’re looking for new responsibilities, there’s always the chance that your supervisors are not aware of your feelings. They may have other opportunities for you but are simply unaware of your needs. Clearing the air in a respectful manner can help you to know for sure which decision you need to make.
Consider your options
Once you’ve concluded that it’s time to quit, make sure that you take however much time you need to identify your other job opportunities. What’s the next step in your career progression? Are there jobs available that you can find in your area? Review job postings and compare those positions to your current job. Will taking one of those positions resolve the issues you’re currently experiencing? This research and analysis can not only help you maximize your chances of finding a better job but could also provide more time for you to be completely sure that you need to leave your current position.
Get your resume updated
Before you begin applying for any of those better jobs, make sure that your resume is updated and properly tailored to those desired positions. Double-check your contact information, revise your summary statement, and update your core competencies and professional experience sections. To maximize your job search success, you may also want to consider professional resume writing services. For many professionals, this can be the best way to optimize your chances of landing the interviews you need for career success.
If you leave, quit the right way
Finally, make sure that you leave your job the right way – without burning any bridges. You should take time to sit down and inform your superiors about your decision so that they’re not caught unprepared. Be positive and thank them for the opportunity they provided. It’s also a good idea to provide the customary two weeks’ notice. While it’s not legally required in most places, it is considered the appropriate and professional thing to do.
Knowing when to quit your job can keep your career moving forward
It’s likely that you will know when to quit your job. The fact is that most people can sense when their jobs no longer serve their needs. That’s often the easy part. The hard part is mustering the courage to do anything with that knowledge. One thing to remember, though, is that you don’t need courage to make the right decisions for your career. You just need to be committed to advancing your own interests and meeting your long-term goals.
So, if you find yourself glancing at job postings online or taking note of every employment offer you see in the paper, then it’s a safe bet that something’s not right with your current job. It may not always be easy to know when to quit your job, but once you’ve identified a serious problem with your current position it’s up to you to act as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the tips and guidance in this post can help you maintain the right focus on your career needs and enjoy the success you deserve.
Ken Chase, Freelance Writer
During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.