One of the most important skills in your career is knowing when to say when. There's something to be said for persistence and not throwing in the towel just because something is difficult, but there are also professional situations and warning signs that indicate it's time to polish your resume and move on-- or at least prepare to move on. Whether you're considering new opportunities in your field, or contemplating a complete Second Act, here are eight good reasons for quitting, excerpted from my book The Go-Getter Girl's Guide.
You have a truly evil boss. If you're thinking about leaving because of your manager, you're not alone: a Gallup poll found that the number one people leave their jobs is a bad relationship with their boss or supervisor. While no boss is perfect, if your boss is abusive or unethical, or he or she's just a jerk and you've tried numerous strategies to make the most of the situation, it is likely time to start looking for a new job.
You're not challenged. There's a fine line between mastering your job and becoming too "comfortable" or complacent. In any job, there should be a certain amount of work that pushes you to new levels, say, at least 20 percent. As GGG Celia, age thirty-one, from Orlando, Florida, likes to say, "Your job should make you sweat a little bit, in a good way. Otherwise, you're not being challenged enough." So if you're bored to tears, move on, instead of sulking or becoming bitter.
You're chronically undercompensated. Let's say you're being challenged plenty, but you wouldn't know it from your paycheck or title. There's such a thing as paying your dues, but if years have gone by, you may be caught in a dead end situation. If you know you've earned a raise or promotion, have asked for it but have been denied repeatedly, it's likely time to head to where your talents and services are better valued. It's not necessarily personal. Your company may value you, but perhaps there is little room for growth because the company is too small or doesn't have the infrastructure to best use you. As one GGG marketing exec says, "Sometimes you have to go to grow!"
You have a better opportunity - and don't need your job's paycheck. The latter half of this tip is key. One of the best reasons to quit is to take on a grand new challenge--such as a career change, starting your own business, or even living abroad. New opportunities can be exciting and rewarding, and one hopes, will bring a bigger payday. However, sometimes they involve a pay cut, and unless you're independently wealthy, you probably still need income to pay your bills! As adventurous and risk-taking as GGGs are when it comes to seeking new opportunities, they still handle their responsibilities. For example, GGG Emily Giffin, the bestselling novelist, wanted desperately to quit her job as an attorney, but she made a plan to pay off her student loans and save up money before taking the leap to move to London and write full time for a year.
Your company is approaching financial meltdown. You've been a loyal employee, but there does come a time when you absolutely have to put your needs and job security first. If you're hearing reports of bankruptcy or witnessing mass layoffs, it may be time to check out what other options are available.
You've experienced a major life change. As many people have discovered, getting married and/or having kids just changes things. Case in point: When asked why she left Dress for Success, founder Nancy Lublin's first response was, "I met my husband and was like, wow, I can have a personal life!" Nancy says that in her twenties, she was married to her job and had a major dating dry spell without so much as a kiss for two years. As you move through different stages of life, you may need to move to a new city for your [spouse]'s work, or find something with more flexible hours to make time for family. It's about prioritizing and renegotiating your life choices, but that doesn't mean you're jumping out of the game. In fact, don't even think of this as "quitting." Think of it as finishing one chapter and starting a new one!
You've gotten embroiled in a romantic situation gone very wrong. You're generally conscientious and know to be extra careful when dating others at work, but sometimes mistakes happen, and you found yourself in a big, workplace-relationship fiasco. If seeing this person every day causes you such distraction that you can't complete your work--or the situation is so contentious that you're worried about your reputation--it may be time to start looking for a new workplace where you'll have a clean slate. Just resolve not to repeat the same mistake in your next workplace.
You're truly miserable--or borderline depressed. Sometimes a job that looked very glamorous from the outside isn't so great in terms of day-to-day lifestyle. Sometimes being successful is not just about sucking it up and dealing with it. The reality is that certain professions may involve a schedule (e.g., late-night or overnight work, constant travel) or culture (e.g., heavy partying) that can truly impact your mental or physical health. Of course, if you're experiencing sadness to the point where you dread getting out of bed each day, it may be hard to place all of the blame on a stressful job. Consult a professional counselor or therapist to help you sort things out, and make a plan to find a job, or career, that's a better fit.
Copyright © 2009 by Debra Shigley, JD.