When to quit your job

When to quit your job

Joseph Darby

13 times you should make a career change

Everyone has a bad day at work now and then. You may leave your office vowing you will put your notice in soon. But how do you know when you should give your job a second chance, or when it is really time to quit? Read on for the top 13 warning signs that you should leave your job.

1. You’re unhappy most of each day doing this work

This is not rocket science – the clearest sign that you need a change is how you feel about the work you are involved in every day.

  • Are you feeling unhappy, depressed, thwarted, bored, misunderstood, mistreated most of the time?
  • Do you feel that the “real you” just cannot come out in this job, and the way you love to work isn’t honoured or respected?
  • Do you wonder how you ever ended up here, and have daily dreams about doing something very different?
  • Do you go to sleep every night dreading the next day of work?

Don’t be in denial about your feelings – they’re pointing you to a very real situation that needs to be dealt with. Remember: You don’t have to be miserable or lose your sense of self in order to be gainfully employed.

While it’s normal to have qualms about the workday, if you truly, deeply dread those eight or so hours’ worth of grind, it is time to start looking elsewhere.

You should always follow your gut, as a bad job can lead to health issues and unhappiness.

2. You’re procrastinating more than you’re working

Everyone procrastinates on occasion, but if there is nothing you find engaging about your day-to-day work, you should consider whether your current position is really a good fit for you. There should be at least some part of your job that is more interesting than scrolling through social media or talking with colleagues.

3. You’re sacrificing your health, safety, sanity, or relationships

If what you do puts you in serious danger, damages your mental health, or severely limits your ability to spend meaningful time with the people and things you care about, ask yourself if it’s worth doing.

  • Does it offer you enough meaning and financial reward in exchange for everything you’re sacrificing?
  • Are you taking as much time off as you can possibly get?
  • Are you resorting to a few (or many) glasses of wine or beer each night to get over a bad day at work?
  • Are you working so many hours you have no time to exercise, eat healthily, or get enough sleep?

No job is worth sacrificing your wellness.

4. You rant about your job too much

Think about your most common conversations with friends and family members – are you constantly complaining about co-workers, about your workplace, or about the job itself?

A job should bring more positive than negative energy into your life. If it is always a cause for complaint, that is a clear sign something is wrong.

5. You’re overqualified, or your skills aren’t a good fit

If your job forces you to use skills that are not enjoyable for you, you will probably be miserable and drained after each day’s work. There are times when we all might have to take subpar jobs just to get by, but if you are in a job that you are overqualified for, don’t accept feeling stuck.

Stay on alert for positions that fit your skills, which will likely feel more fulfilling than a job that does not measure up to your level of expertise.

6. There’s no room for advancement

Avoid spending too much time in a position that doesn’t offer opportunities for growth. Committing your time and energy to an organisation that will not support the progress of your career or grow with you will end up hindering your development in the long run.

7. Toxic work environment

  • Hate your boss?
  • Can’t stand one or more of your co-workers?
  • Struggle to deal with a regular customer or client?

This all could be a sign to quit your job, but it might not be. Like periodic stress, some amount of distaste for your work environment or a colleague or customer is normal – this usually passes as circumstances change and people come and go.

When the problem is a continual and cultural one, however, you should walk away. Beyond certain rude or selfish individuals, some workplaces are toxic unto themselves. Indicators of a harmful work environment might include:

  • Poor communication between leadership and employees, and between co-workers
  • Frequent bullying and harassment
  • Secrecy, gossip, dishonesty, and distrust
  • Unsafe or unhealthy working conditions

Organisations with toxic cultures are often marked by high rates of turnover. If other staff keep leaving, take that as a sign that you might want to leave too. Jobs are not just about the functions and tasks you perform every day. A job – and your success and joy in it – is shaped by many other factors.

8. You’re being recruited by other organisations

Are headhunters reaching out to you? If you're feeling unhappy with your current work environment and there are ample opportunities for another role available, that is probably a green light to move on.

9. The organisational culture isn’t a good fit for you

Perhaps you’re a focussed and driven person stuck in an easy-going role or organisation, or maybe vice versa. Either way, you could be a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

If you have tried and failed to embed yourself in the organisation or negotiate an arrangement that works for you, consider jobs at other organisations with a culture that fits you.

10. You can’t speak up

You should feel confident and comfortable enough at work to voice your opinion, share your thoughts, and make suggestions. Even if your suggestions are not implemented – they should be heard.

An oppressive environment is not worth putting up with.

11. You feel no connection to or satisfaction in your work

  • Do you derive meaning and satisfaction from your work?
  • Do you like what you do?
  • Does your job allow you to do what you are best at? – If not, does it let you learn new skills or grow as a person?

If the answer to most of these questions is “no,” the job isn’t the right fit for you. It’s time to find a career – or embrace a different kind of life entirely – that gives you the room you deserve to shine, apply your expertise and talents, engage in personal growth, and follow your passion without compromising on your values.

12. You find yourself justifying your job

Do any of these comments sound familiar?

  • "The pay sucks and my boss is a jerk, but my benefits are okay."
  • “My co-workers are nasty and condescending, but at least my salary is decent."
  • "I don't make any money but at least there are free coffee and snacks in the office."

Do you find yourself justifying your job to yourself or others, while deep down you know the cons outweigh the pros?

If there's more to complain about than to praise, trust yourself to find a job that offers more positive than negative, and you should start looking for it.

Proceed with caution!

Quitting your job to “pursue your passion” may sound fantastic – who would not want to do that? Though the reality can be quite different.

To avoid falling flat on your face, consider exactly how you will transition, and what skill-gaps you might need to close.

Learn more:

13. You’re reading this article

Why are you reading this article? – Something must have resonated with you. If you are already contemplating quitting your job, that alone could be a sign that it is indeed time to move on.

The bottom line - before resigning

Timing is everything. You need to make sure you’re truly ready to go and are well-positioned for the next phase of your career or life. But you also need to avoid working any longer than necessary in a role that is not for you.

If possible, be strategic: it is nearly always better to leave a job after you have said yes to a job offer, which might include retraining in a whole new field.

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