Is It Time to Quit Your Job?

How to Know When to Say Goodbye

Woman at desk in office thinking
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The desire to quit your job could be the result of a sudden, dramatic problem, or the natural extension of unrecognized and unresolved issues accumulating over time. In any case, the choice to quit your job requires careful consideration and balance, and in most cases it's a decision that shouldn't be made hastily, or drawn out to the point that your personal performance suffers.

As far as your future employers are concerned, quitting will reflect greater initiative and guts than being fired, and is less of a blemish on your resume. If you're torn over the decision, it's helpful to document the benefits of staying versus leaving, and to give special deliberation to any of the following red flags that exist in your current role.

The Job Is Making You Sick

If your job is stressful enough to give you chronic physical discomfort, insomnia, or anxiety—and assuming your employer can't (or won't) help its employees manage these insidious problems—it's in your best interest to quit. You are experiencing mild to severe job-related stress, which if left unchecked, will only lead to more destructive health issues (including heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychiatric conditions).

If your current employer doesn't prioritize your physical and psychiatric health, as well as your ability to earn a living in the future, you should do so yourself by quitting.

Your Boss Is Marginalizing You

If your boss, for reasons unbeknownst to you, has taken away your responsibilities or visibility within the business, you must address the issue head on. Don't assume that quitting is the only way to rectify the situation. These actions may be unintentional, or the reflection of sloppy a management style, but they may also suggest that your boss is systemically undermining your contributions. If you try to resolve the problem and conclude that conditions won't improve, you should request to be transferred, or find a new job outside the company.

You've Outgrown the Job

If you've spent years enthusiastically gaining experience and skill within a certain role, you may end up with more of both than your current job requires. If you're overqualified for your current position, and there's no room to move up, it's probably time to start looking for a job where you can put your hard-earned experience and skills to good use. It's always in your best interest to initiate a job search before your performance or attitude begin to suffer in front of your colleagues.

Offer for a Better Job

It's difficult and risky to leave a job you enjoy—even if you aren't paid well—but this discomfort may pay off in the long run. Do your research and apply elsewhere before making any life-changing decisions; you may receive an irresistible offer from another employer, or gain the knowledge and leverage you need to renegotiate your current compensation. If you continue to be pigeon-holed within a certain team or pay grade, despite improving your performance and attempting to negotiate a raise, it's likely time to say goodbye

Work Is Interfering With Family Responsibilities

Even if you enjoy the work you do each day, you can still struggle to balance your professional responsibilities with those of being a parent, partner, or independent adult. Many parents take years away from their careers to devote their attention to raising children, but for most people, this isn't financially tenable.

If you can afford to take a hiatus from work, or are able to take a leave of absence covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, use this opportunity to reflect on what will inspire you to do your best work. Explore every option your employer has for working remotely, or during those hours of the day that suit your family's schedule. Search for outside job listings that offer you an easier commute, less travel, or more flexible hours, and emphasize your desire to find a better work-life balance when interviewing with potential employers.

Above all else, try to ensure that your work, attitude, and accountability don't suffer during the deliberation process.