Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you want to leave your job, but something’s holding you back. Here’s the real question: Is it bad enough to justify the scary prospect of a job search or career change?
If you see yourself in one or more of these scenarios, it’s probably time to go. But don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. After we discuss the four signs you should quit your job, I’ll share a few tips on what to do next. After all, knowing it’s time is just the first step.
Sign #1 The Work Environment is Toxic
The term toxic work environment can mean different things to different people, so it’s important to clarify that if you’re experiencing discrimination, harassment, orsafety issues, that’s an immediate red flag. While you can elevate the issues to your Human Resources department, whether you feel comfortable staying while they try to resolve the problem is up to you.
Even if it doesn’t cross the line into illegal behavior, a toxic work environment can be demoralizingand will take its toll over time. Do any of these sound familiar?
Chronic heavy workloads– Unrealistic expectations that make you feel like you’re always failing
Demeaning boss– An emotionally abusive boss who erodes your confidence and motivation
Passive aggressive environment– Coworkers or leaders who aren’t supportive or purposely sabotage your success
If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to change the atmosphere or behaviors in your workplace, you might be telling yourself that there are other positives to balance it out – the pay is good, I can work from home sometimes, I’m getting great experience, etc. But ultimately, you’ll regret staying. The frustration of a toxic work environment can bleed into your personal life, create bad work habits, and as we’ll talk about next, wreak havoc on your health.
Sign #2 You’re Close to Burnout
Have you ever experienced the Sunday Night Blues? You’re not alone. According to Monster.com, 76% of American workers say they experience depression the day before their workweek. When does it become a sign you need to quit?
I’ve worked with many professionals who continue saying “it’s not that bad” for way too long. When they finally decide to move on from their job, they’re exhausted. This makes it doubly hard to ramp up a job search or career change. So, before you brush off the Sunday Night Blues, consider whether you’re showing the signs of impending burnout.
Lack of energy
Trouble falling or staying asleep
Lack of focus
Lack of productivity
Wanting to isolate more
Stress, anxiety, and depression rarely stay inside your head. You should also take note of whether you’ve been getting more headaches, if your stomach’s been upset, or you have other strange aches and pains. They’re often signals that your body’s reaching its breaking point.
As with sign #1 above, you should always try to solve the problem before you decide to leave. Talk to your boss about reducing your workload or changing your role. Implement systems to reduce distractions or annoyances. But if the stress is just part of the job you’ve chosen, it might be time to rethink your career.
Sign #3 The Company is Unstable
If you’ve been hearing rumblings of a restructuring or merger, it can be scary. And it’s becoming more common as technology disrupts entire industries seemingly overnight.
You don’t have to immediately make plans to leave your job if your company has a bad quarter. However, there are certain red flags that mean it’s time to move on. Let’s look at a few of them.
Your pay is late– This is more common in small businesses and start-ups, but if cash flowis an issue, that’s poor management. Especially if it becomes a regular occurrence.
Your company leadership is questionable – When you watch leadership make poor decisions that you have no control over, or start seeing top leadership turnover, that’s a sign that your company might not last.
Your company isn’t as profitable as it was – If your company has announced impending lay-offs or restructuring, try to find out where they’ll cut and why. If you’re not sure, and you don’t have confidence in the long-term viability of the company, it’s time to go.
Your competitors are drying up – Is your industry dying? Is your company hanging on to an old way of doing business? Don’t wait until they file for bankruptcy to have an exit strategy.
In today’s working world, you have to be the boss of your own career. You can’t expect a company to always be there, or always be looking out for you.
Sign #4 No Career Path or Growth Potential
If you’re a mid-career professional, you’re probably looking for a company where you can advance into leadership positions. When you want a promotion soon, but you’re facing one of these scenarios, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Leaders with no plans of leaving – If you’re looking up the chain of command and you see happily employed individuals with 10-20 years left in their career who have the job you want, it’s not likely there will be openings.
Small organization with no leadership paths – Even if you love the company, when there are no plans to significantly grow, you really have nowhere to go.
Your boss limits your growth – It’s unfortunate that sometimes your boss likes having you exactly where you are and doesn’t want to lose you. This could mean they sabotage your efforts to grow or position yourself for new roles.
The company doesn’t encourage education – If you need a degree or certification to move your career forward, and your current position doesn’t allow the flexibility to do that, you’ll be stuck. You might also need the financial support of a company that provides tuition reimbursement.
To stay relevant in today’s economy, you must constantly grow and develop. If your current position is limiting your ability to learn and expand, and there’s no indication that will change, it’s definitely a clear sign you should quit your job.
So, what now?
This blog certainly isn’t advocating that you write up your resignation letter tomorrow. You know it’s time to go, but now you need a plan. Before you dive into resumes and job listings, here are some tips to make sure you don’t end up in the wrong job again.
Maintain professionalism at your current job– Even if you’ve made the internal decision to leave, you don’t want your colleagues to know. Keep up your work, just mentally release yourself from the emotional baggage. You want to have stellar references you can rely on throughout your career.
Do self-assessments – If you’ve been in the working world for a while, you probably haven’t stopped to really think through your strengths, what environments help you thrive, and what gets you excited. Now is the time. For example, try out this Career Satisfaction Quiz to see if you’re well suited to the work you’re doing and what’s impacting your desire for change.
Work with a career coach– Mid-career is the best time to engage a coach. You have the experience to know what you want and don’t want, but you might have some limiting beliefs or perceptions holding you back. A coach can ask the hard questions, offer a new perspective, and guide you toward a new job or career.
Hopefully, this blog has given you the clarity needed to take action.
"Become the Cause" of Your Life, Career, and Success