Maybe you’re ready to leave your job because you’re starting your own business. Or maybe you’re sick of your company because you have been there for years and need a fresh start. Perhaps you’re contemplating quitting because you hate your office carpet, are joining the circus, or miss dress-down days. Whatever your reason for leaving your job, when you know, you know. It’s usually a no-brainer, especially if you’ve had the same nagging feeling for a long time.
Here are eight ways to know it's time to move on.
1. You've hit a wall
If you’re unchallenged or bored at work, it’s hard to stay focused and driven. Try talking to your boss about upcoming projects that interest you or other opportunities within the company that match what you do or are willing to do, suggests Brandi Britton, district president of staffing firm OfficeTeam. But if no such opportunities exist or you’ve spoken to a manager about work complacency before and feel there has been no movement, it may be time to move on.
2. You hate your boss, employees, or colleagues
Every workplace has that one rude and negative person that makes life extremely difficult. With that person, you just have to accept your differences and try your hardest not to butt heads in the office. But it’s much harder to deal with if it’s multiple people or a whole department that is toxic. (And if you work at a place like Amazon or Nest, I know you’re nodding your head.) Office cliques not only make for a lonely work environment (hello sad, pathetic days in the cafeteria!), but they can also cause a strain on your workplace mobility, especially if your boss is a part of the cliques.
Since it’s extremely hard to get a promotion if you’re constantly clashing with your boss or colleagues, you need to try and make it work. And if you’re the boss, having employees who don’t value or respect you will make accomplishing tasks that much harder. You will look incompetent to your boss or your company will suffer if the buck stops with you. Try listening instead of always speaking and respect your colleagues’ opinions and ideas. But if you’ve honestly tried to make it work numerous times, requested an in-office transfer, and even brought in HR to help keep the peace, you may just work with a bunch of meanies. If that’s the case, a new job makes a whole lotta sense.
3. The company is sinking
"Layoff rumors or negative financial news about your organization may be signs that it is not doing well," says Britton. "Schedule time to talk one-on-one with your boss to discuss your role in the department and learn whether the company’s goals have shifted." But be smart and realistic in that meeting. Not all bosses know the truth about the future of an organization or market so if you don’t get a straight answer, hold tight. Keep your feelers out and follow your gut. But if things continue in a downward spiral and you know management is holding back some obvious truths, it may be time to leave your company.
4. Your values clash with your company's values
If your company is involved in unethical business practices or doesn’t follow legal or regulatory compliance laws, you need to find a new job. (You can, of course, always be a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are federally protected from retaliation so if you’re sick of your unethical workplace, find out how you’re supported, know and understand your rights, and file a complaint.) Because not only will company offenders suffer from fines, legal fees, and jail time when (not if) they get caught, but you, too, will have to deal with the repercussions and stress that come from working in a toxic, non-compliant environment. And if your company is already dealing with dirty business affairs, there’s a good chance that you’re not valued and neither are the things that you value, including salary, opportunity, or flexibility, says Bill Sanders, Managing Director of Roebling Strauss, an operational strategy consultancy.
5. It's making you sick
While sick days are important to have in any company, if you’re using them all up in a month (including a few unpaid sick days), it may be your job that’s the problem and not your immune system. Lynn Berger, career counselor and coach, says if you are always getting physically or mentally ill and are having problems coping with everyday challenges at work, you may need to find a new employer.
6. You are not valued
When you are not valued, recognized, or appreciated at work, it’s hard to stay motivated, says Jamie Graceffa, author of Career Control and Director of Learning and Organizational Development at Philips Healthcare. My current boss starts every weekly meeting with an inspirational quote or anecdote and tries to send regularly a positive note or email to a struggling worker. Because he knows valued employees are valuable employees, he makes a point to go out of his way and thank those around him. But if that’s not happening at your job, it can weigh on you. If you’re never acknowledged for work projects and smart decisions you make but consistently and immediately castrated for tiny mistakes, you may want to hit the job pavement. While you don’t need to receive credit each and every time you complete a job assignment, you also don’t need to be in a thankless environment.
7. You are not being promoted
If you’re not being promoted, or you’ve heard your boss say something like we like you right where you are, you may want to find a new job, says Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself. And beware of title changes with no salary increase. When you’re fresh out of college and still gaining experience and footing in an industry, sure, you can take a title change with no extra pay. You’ll get more responsibilities, more of a voice and say at work, and something pretty to add to your resume. But when you’re in your 30s, 40s, and beyond and getting more work added to your plate with no extra fringe benefits, you may be being taken for a ride. Talk to your boss about advancement and salary and see what his "promotional" plan (if any) exactly entails.
8. You're not having fun
Although actual work is rarely fun, going to work – seeing people you like and respect, completing meaningful projects, using both the right and left sides of your brain, feeling contributive to the greater good, making money – can and should be fun. Johnson says when we learn new things and tackle new challenges, we get a little squirt of feel-good dopamine. Are you feeling that? Or has your work become so routine and mundane that you could, essentially and efficiently, do it in your sleep? If you’re no longer having fun, and you’re almost dreading the workday, it may be time to go.
Although work is hard (that’s why it’s work and not play), it doesn’t have to be unbearable, complicated, or downright dirty.
If you’re at the wrong job, you probably already know it. I am a firm believer in following your gut and knowing when something feels off about a place. If that’s the case, don’t leave until your priorities are in order:
Find a new job first by cleaning up your resume and getting on fantastic job search websites. As you job search, be careful of scammy websites or links or jobs that sound like your current place of employment - some employers trap their current employees with fake postings.
Don’t tell your coworkers you are looking for a new job (even the ones you trust) because you don’t want to be exposed. In case you weren’t aware, the job market is rough right now so no matter how impressive you or your skills are, you need all the help you can get to secure a great position. And if your nosy cubicle neighbor blabs to the office that you’re on the hunt, you may lose your current position before you’ve secured a new one.
When you land an interview (and I know you will), make sure you’re ready. Be mentally prepared, get a good night’s rest, dress professionally, and ask questions.
Leave your current job respectfully. Give proper notice because you don’t want to burn any bridges. You want them to miss you and your work ethic, not miss your antics, constant gossip, and insane departure (Office Space, anyone?).