How to Know When to Quit Your Job

How to Know When to Quit Your Job

We’ve been writing a lot about how your finances are related to your career. If your career is going well, chances are your finances are going well too. And a lot of the time, achieving success in your career is about knowing when to quit. Not that you need to quit, of course, For some, staying in the current job is ideal. But with the way the recession has put up roadblocks for many young people and with the way industries change so quickly in the era of globalization, many people find they have to switch jobs to get ahead. That’s why learning how to know when to quit your job can help your career – and your finances.

But how do you know when to quit and move on? Here are 5 signs that you should consider quitting (and finding a new opportunity):

1. Your Skills are Underutilized

Have you given your all to the company, only to be overlooked time after time? If you feel as though you have developed skills valuable to the company, and that you could make larger contributions, but you are repeatedly passed over, it might be time to move on.

It’s not just about a promotion. It might be about your interest in taking on greater responsibility, or proving yourself with a challenging project. If your bosses won’t let you show that you’re capable of more, it’s a good sign that you aren’t going to advance at that company. You might want to go where someone recognizes your value, and where you can grow professionally and as a person.

2. Your Values Don’t Match Company Culture

To some extent, a job is just a job. However, at some point, if the company culture is very different from your own values, it can be hard to keep working there. If you feel like those working around you don’t have the same ethics, and if you can’t respect your boss and the higher-ups because you know of their behavior, it might be time to leave. It’s not just about being a good match for the company; the company should be a good match for you, too.

Many workers are happier when they feel as though they contribute to something meaningful with their jobs. Whether or not you feel as though you work for a company that manufactures the best of something, and whether or not you feel the company is providing some good in the world, matters.

3. You Feel Dissatisfaction with Your Compensation Package

Does your job allow you to be financially stable? Are you struggling financially or have debt? This isn’t just about a raise. While pay is a big deal, you also need to look at other benefits and perks of the job. Do you have good health insurance? Do you like the vacation policy? Perhaps you get discounted access to the gym, or on-site childcare. Think about the various aspects of your compensation. Do your other perks outweigh somewhat low pay? If not, and if you feel that you could get better pay (or at least better perks) elsewhere, consider making a switch.

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4. You Can’t Fit the Job with the Your Preferred Lifestyle

How does your job fit in with your lifestyle? Does it allow you time with your family? Think about where your job fits in. In many case, you really are your job. This means that you need to think about how you feel about that fact – and whether your job is helping you reach your long-term lifestyle goals. Keep the big picture in mind. At some point, your job needs to be part of your ongoing efforts to improve your lifestyle over time.

5. You Dread Going to Work Every Day

We all have days – and even entire weeks – when we wish we didn’t have to go into work. I only have to commute downstairs to my home office, and there are days that I just want to stay in bed without facing the computer. But has it become a source of stress in your life?

If you dread going to work every day, and if you are consumed by anxiety, it’s probably time to quit. This anxiety can stem from the way you are treated by co-workers, or from the stress that comes with working 12-hours a day. Consider your feelings about work, and if you find that stress overrides everything, consider quitting.

We hope these tips help you understand how to know when to quit your job. It’s a difficult topic, but ultimately one that can help you achieve the life you want.

Tell us what you think in the comments below. When would you consider quitting a job?

Image credit: Victor1558

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  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    Good post! I was in this decision last year when I decided to leave my job. I had gotten to the point where I was getting physically ill going into the office. They were not using me and the ethics of the company were questionable at best. It was not a decision I made lightly, but in the end it was very clear what I needed to do. I am so much more fulfilled running our family business with my wife.

    • Good for you for taking the leap and making the right decision! It’s always a wise decision to escape from a job that makes you feel sick. Glad to hear it’s working out well for you.

  • I probably hit 4 out of the 5 you mentioned in this article such as dreading to go to work and values don’t match the company culture. However the only reason I haven’t quit is because I have a decent position and I get some great extra perks such as extended lunches.

    • That’s a tough one! I can certainly understand how hard it is to weigh the Pros and Cons of your current job. I was in that position for a long time and eventually decided to leave, but not immediately. Every situation is different and only you can know what’s best in your situation.

  • George

    If you don’t like your job…….quit. If you don’t love your job, you are not doing or being all you can. 25 years as a boss tells me people need to love what they do to be good at it. Quit! I did, and found I could only work for me. Because I love my job, I can work at it and give it the long hours needed to succeed.

    • Glad to hear that you quit and had no regrets! Sounds like it has worked out great for you.

  • Freddie Dakar

    Great article! I work for a japanese bank and it’s a real dilemma – reasons 1, 2 & 5 all scream GET OUT! but reasons 3 & 4 have kept me here for far too long. Being overpaid with excellent work-life balance has distracted me enough not to quit but if one of those things wee to change I’d be gone.

    • Thanks, Freddie! I imagine there are a lot of people in the same boat – where reasons 1, 2, and 5 suggest it’s time to leave but reasons 3 and 4 make it hard to leave. I don’t think there’s a right answer. After all, many people struggle for years just to get that satisfaction with 3 and 4. I guess one consideration is your age and overall financial situation. If you’re still young, you could set some savings goals and plan to leave your job when you hit those goals. Best of luck to you!

  • consulting in F1000

    Great post. I wish that you had published this 3 years ago! I was a freelance consultant from 1997-2008 when I was hired as an employee. I loved the consulting work and talked myself into the job because of the economic downturn we all saw on the horizon. I was miserable at the job but hung in there–I’m not a quitter!–until they laid me off. BTW, I could answer ‘Yes’ to all 5 of the signs that you should quit. Being laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I am glad that somebody gave me the push out the door because I lacked the courage to quit. I am back doing freelance consulting and while the lure of salary makes managing cash a little easier, I am much happier doing what I do now. So, for those of you who can say ‘Yes’ to those signs, get out of there as soon as you can.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! It is very true how you can talk yourself into staying at a job far longer than you really should, especially after you’ve identified the signs in this article and realize that you’d be happier elsewhere. Glad to hear you are back doing the freelance consulting that you enjoy now!

    • xBeth

      That happened to me. Because I had become a “key” person, I went from being a contractor to being an employee at the company’s insistance. When the contract ended, I had to find a new place within the company. The folks at the new place took an instant dislike to me and nothing I could do was right. I got a “Star” award and cash bonus for “Outstanding Performance” on the same day as my new supervisor reprimanded me for “Deficient Performance” – I still have them on my wall at home!

      • Wow, that takes the cake! An Outsanding Performance award and a “Deficient Performance” reprimand on the same day.

  • Deserttrek

    hate mine even though I have it beyond easy. fit 4 out of 5. the problem is the “golden handcuffs” .. .. can’t make what I do in most other places, and my age is an issue with a planned retirement in 6 – 8 years.
    i’ll tough it out and get out the day I can, no party no nothing, fill out the paperwork and be gone.

    • That’s a tough situation. Golden handcuffs are quite a dilemma. Given that you are 6-8 years from retirement, maybe it makes sense to stay. Either way, I wish you good luck!

      • Deserttrek

        Thank you I appreciate it.

  • Shaileena

    Great article, especially the last point. I have been in that phase for the last 3 yrs and have completely hit a brick wall. It’s a shame as I respect and admire my director, but I am completely disenchanted and disgusted with Corporate America. I’m sick and tired of seeing “layoffs” so the greedy executives can continue making money their great-great-grandchildren will never spend in their lifetime for the sake of their “bottom line”. All they need do is quit useless spending and consider a pay cut for themselves, (wow! this actually sounds like something our Gov’t should adopt as well!) but do you think they would even consider that? I don’t think so! It really does not take much to make people happy; re-invest in their employees by giving them better healthcare plans, regular decent pay raises where they have earned them and give decent bonus’s and perks for when dept’s achieve certain goals. Throw great Christmas parties and company picnics where the “big guys” actually come down from their exalted realms to meet the employees that are making them rich! I mean really, is it asking too much to show your employees how much you respect and appreciate their hard work? What happened to the old days when this was common practice? Am I really living in an idealistic dream world? Greed has so warped the corporate psyche! :o( I am 50 yrs old with degrading short-term memory and no college degree so my chances of finding another job that is the “perfect” fit for me is an illusion. I have this job because of MY lack of education (I take responsibility for that), not because I like working in Corporate America. But, they don’t have to make the common man so freakin’ miserable just because they can! I can’t quit because I HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS and have to pay the bills. I don’t have the luxury of “re-inventing” myself. I have only 17 more years to retire, IF I can retire. I am literally hanging on by my fingernails and at their mercy! ;o( Disgruntled Corporate-World Employee.

    • I’m sorry to hear you feel stuck! If it helps, I know for a fact you are not the only one out there feeling this way. As you mentioned, there are so many factors that are squeezing people these days, and it’s not easy. I wish I could help you (and others in your situation) find a job opportunity that you’d enjoy more. In the meantime, best of luck to you!