If you’re wondering whether you should leave your job, then keep reading. This article will cover everything you need to know, including:
Let’s get started…
While this is the same criteria the vet recommended when deciding to euthanize my childhood dog, it’s a good gauge and can be used as an indicator of when to move on to a new place. Believe me, we all have bad days. But once you have more bad days than good days, you need to start looking.
A (vast) majority of your time at work should be enjoyable or at the very least tolerable. So which surprises you?… a bad day or a good one? Everyone has a few bad days at work but if that’s what you’ve come to expect, and you’re surprised by a good one, you should leave your job.
I’ve been asked a few times, “Should you leave a job if you are unhappy?” and my answer is always “Yes!”
You should “Work to live, not live to work.” While you should invest in your work and enjoy your career (I hope that you truly do; I love mine), your job should not consume your life. Instead, your job should only take up about a quarter of your time.
Since there are 168 hours in the week, if you are using more than a quarter of them (about 40 hours) to work, you are not spending enough time enjoying life. If you plan your day right, 40 hours should be enough time to get your job done.
You should be able to leave work at work, allowing you to turn off your phone, log out of email and be present when home. Unless you’re an ER surgeon (or some other on-call professional that truly requires you to be available after hours), you shouldn’t regularly be getting called/emailed/texted outside of your regular work hours unless it’s an absolute emergency.
And while there may be the occasional work emergency that intrudes into your personal life, these emergencies should be few and far between. If you are constantly getting contacted by work after hours, or are bringing work home regularly, you need to learn how to set better boundaries.
And if it’s not possible to do that with your current employer, you should leave that job. Some employers have unrealistic expectations or ridiculous policies that kill your health – both mentally and physically. It’s not worth it and it’s a good reason to leave your job and find a better one.
I had a job that kept me awake for hours at night. I was miserable not only because of the job itself, but also due to the lack of sleep. And this started the second week of working at this place (big red flag!).
Thankfully, I was able to get out of there in less than two months and now have a job I absolutely love. But if your job keeps you up at night (unless you work a night shift of course), it’s a sign that you need to start searching for a new job that won’t interfere with your ability to sleep and rest.
We all have days where we just don’t want to go to work. Some days we just want to quit and never come back. This can happen from job-related stress, but also if the work you are doing isn’t interesting or fulfilling.
We may even type up a draft resignation letter (I did this for the job that kept me awake at night; it was therapeutic).
But if you regularly think about ditching your current gig and it’s been going on for months, that’s a clear sign you need to create an exit plan and start taking action instead of fantasizing about quitting your job. Trust your gut, update your LinkedIn and go for it!
Make it your aim to find a job where you will feel more relaxed, enjoy the work, and be able to utilize your strengths. You’ll feel happier (and healthier) in the long term if you do this.
Be real with yourself. Are you experiencing any of these? If so, you need to start searching for a new job.
Next, there are also some career-related reasons to leave your job. You may be fine mentally, the work may be stress-free and easy, but it still might be a good time to quit your job, and I’ll explain why below.
Even if things are going great in your current job, you may want to leave if you’re unexpectedly offered a new job that’s a dream position.
This may happen if a recruiter contacts you, if an employer that you spoke with previously is slow in getting back to you, etc.
This happened to me once, right after I graduated from university. I applied for a job related to my field of study (Finance) and didn’t hear back. I ended up taking a job doing customer support for an e-commerce start-up, and then two weeks into training, I heard back from the finance company!
I spoke to my manager and told him that I wanted to give notice of resignation, and he understood.
It wasn’t ideal for the company, but I explained that this new job I was offered was my dream role, and fit more closely with what I had studied in school. He understood.
One career mistake I see a lot: Staying far too long in a job due to comfort, when you’re not building new skills or learning anything new.
If you’re not learning and advancing, it may be time to consider a new job. Often, changing jobs can get you a boost in pay, too, so that’s another benefit to changing jobs somewhat often.
(I’m not recommending job-hopping, the lowest-paid people tend to be those who have stayed at one company for 10-20 years, so keep that in mind.)
If you care about career growth and earning as much money as possible, it’s a mistake to ignore new job opportunities and stay in your current role only due to comfort and familiarity.
While a company may feel like home, at some point, it’s a good idea to quit the job if you find an opportunity where you can learn more and grow professionally.
Change comes with risk, but it usually pays off well.
Just make sure that you have a good feeling about the next company you’re joining before you quit your job!
You shouldn’t leave your job immediately when you sense that you’re no longer learning; instead, you should begin a patient, careful job search.
This is another good reason to quit your job: If you simply don’t enjoy the work environment or workplace culture, you may be happier elsewhere.
For example, maybe it’s a very casual environment and you’d like to be in a more formal setting. Or maybe it’s a very large corporation and you’ve always wanted to work in a small, casual start-up.
These are good, solid reasons to quit your job.
And in fact, experiencing a variety of work environments is a good way to build more experience and prepare yourself to perform better in leadership roles (if that interests you!)
From my experience as a recruiter, most Executives and CEOs had a variety of experience in large and small companies. They didn’t just stick to one type of work setting for their whole career.
It doesn’t matter if you love the people, the company, etc…
If the job isn’t what you want to be doing, then you’re wasting time by staying in that career.
That’s when it’s time for a career change.
Of course, you could also ask the company if they’d consider letting you change roles. For example, if you love a company but aren’t passionate about your HR role anymore, you could ask to transfer to marketing or another area that you think will interest you more.
But if they say “no” and you discover there are no further options to explore with them, then it’s a sign you should leave your current job to pursue this new career path.
Do your research first, though, and talk to other people who are working in the new job you want. That way, you won’t discover any surprises after leaving your current job to make the career change.
There’s a saying that people don’t quit companies, they quit bad bosses. It’s true, in my experience.
One reason I quit my job in the past was a boss who I didn’t feel supported me. So this is a very valid reason to leave a job/company.
A boss should support you, be open to teaching you (it’s a part of their job description) and trust you without micromanaging you.
If you don’t feel trusted, supported, and encouraged by your boss, then it may be a sign that you should leave your job.
We’ve now looked at 10 reasons you should quit your job for a new position, career change, or simply to protect your mental health.
Remember that it’s valid to want to quit a job for personal reasons or career reasons.
Whether you’re looking for more pay, better work-life balance, more job satisfaction, or an entirely new career, you’ll get there faster if you take time to plan your job search.
If you can take the time to plan your next move, you can find the best possible situation instead of rushing into the first opportunity you find.
For example, you can begin to set job alerts and review new job postings in your industry while continuing to work your job.
If you’re currently employed, you’re in the great position of being able to job search while also earning an income! This means you can be a bit pickier about the job you take.
This article was written with the help of Kyle Elliott:
Kyle Elliott is a well-caffeinated career coach and freelance marketer, writer & editor who has helped more than 300 clients to date. He has a knack for branding and marketing, love for resumes and LinkedIn, and healthy obsession for details and coffee. Learn more about Kyle’s consulting work (and his Starbucks addiction) at CaffeinatedKyle.com.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions and answers. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.