Quitting your job can be terrifying, but if you are in one or more of these situations, it’s time to cut and run.
BY STEPHANIE VOZZA
Most of us are open to new job opportunities. In fact, a survey by the specialty recruitment firms Accounting Principals and Ajilon found that 80% of people are passively or actively looking. But how do you know it’s time to stop window shopping and pull the trigger and quit?
“Quitting and finding new work can be terrifying,” says Jill Gugino Pante, director of the University of Delaware Career Services Center. “Not everyone likes change. People sometimes need a push or reason to quit, whether it be the prospect of a new job, personal health, or an incentive from a boss to resign.”
“There are defining markers for determining whether you’re just daydreaming or you really need to consider a new gig,” adds Dave Denaro, vice president of the career management consulting firm Keystone Associates.
Here are six situations that signal it might be time to quit:
1. YOU DON’T WANT TO GET OUT OF BED
While it’s common to go through periods where you feel miserable or bored in your job, it shouldn’t be a daily attitude.
“If you are not mentally engaged in what you are doing for a living, don’t wait too long to make a change,” says Holly Caplan, career coach and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World. “Staying in a role you find completely uninspiring will do a number on your self worth and will be detected by your manager. When you feel this stagnancy or boredom linger, it is a sign that it is time to go.”
2. RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK ARE TOXIC
Approximately a third of the respondents to the Accounting Principals and Ajilon survey said they would quit their job or start trying to find another job due to a bad manager or boss. Measuring the health of your work relationships, including your boss, coworkers, colleagues from other departments, and even your boss’s boss is one of the biggest indicators that it’s time to quit your job, says Gugino Pante.
“If the majority of these relationships are toxic, dysfunctional, and even threatening, it’s time to move on,” she says. “There will always be someone you don’t get along with at your job—sometimes even more than one person. But if you go home every night overly stressed, feeling undervalued, and not being able to enjoy or have a personal life, you need to reevaluate that job.”
3. YOU’RE LOSING INTEREST
If you’re no longer driven to learn new skills to stay current or even share with others what you do for a career, it’s time to rethink your current job, says Denaro.
“This produces at least two career-damaging results if left unchecked,” he says.
First, you decrease your future employment options. “If you ever get laid off, you will find yourself qualifying only for ‘legacy’ jobs, and by definition there are fewer and fewer of them around,” says Denaro.
You’ll also be judged as being not motivated and agile in regards to adapting to new work tools and techniques. “It will look like you have no gas left in the proverbial tank,” he says. “Ask yourself, ‘What motivates me to get up each day and go to work? What have I always wanted to do, but am too afraid to take the leap to do it?” Then go do that.
4. YOU AREN’T GETTING SUFFICIENT RECOGNITION
Bosses that simply give generic praise, such as “good job,” create a culture where growth can be difficult, says Susan Kuczmarski, cofounder of the consulting firm Kuczmarski Innovation and author of Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition.
“When you receive just generic praise, you aren’t building confidence,” she says. “Is it reason to quit? Yes, if you want your self-esteem ‘pot’ to grow, your motivation to flourish and your performance to become more engaging and professional. The workday is too long to spend it in a setting where we aren’t getting these results.”
Specific praise creates more of a learning environment, which is a cultural “quality” essential for professional growth, performance, productivity, and commitment, too, says Kuczmarski. “We all need to hear what we’ve done well in detail, and why,” she says.
For example, instead of hearing, “You did a terrific job on that speech,” a boss could say, “You presented some extremely difficult material. You helped us understand it, we feel hopeful, we now know what next steps to take, you were creative in organizing the relevant data, and you used humor in a powerfully effective way.”
“This team member’s confidence grows with such specific and enthusiastic praise,” says Kuczmarski. “In the long run, praise and recognition are essential ingredients to every sustainable culture where employees can flourish and grow.”
5. THE COMPANY HAS HIGH TURNOVER
Employees tend to stay in jobs when they like their work environment. More than half of the respondents to the Accounting Principals and Ajilon survey said their top reason that keeps them from quitting their job is the loyalty they feel to their team, boss, coworkers, or their company.
A good boss, work-life balance, and consistency helps you stay put, says Caplan. “But if these components are not present, most people will jump ship,” she says. “If you see your respected colleagues leaving right and left, know the issues are most likely systemic. This is a signal that it is time to find a new ship that is sailing in the right direction.”
6. YOUR ROLE IS BECOMING LESS IMPORTANT
If things are changing and your group or function is becoming marginalized, it’s time to go, says Tres Roeder, president of Roeder Consulting and author of Managing Project Stakeholders: Building a Foundation to Achieve Project Goals.
“You may be able to hold on to your job, but you are not likely to have the ear of top leadership,” he says. “Different companies value different functions and skills. If yours is not valued, then first do your best to sell it to leadership. If it just isn’t happening, then move on to a place where your skills are appreciated and utilized.”