How to Know When to Quit Your Job
Quitting your job can be both a liberating and stressful experience. Sometimes it requires you to take a leap of faith, hoping that you’ll be moving on to better things. Sometimes it can occur by happenstance, and you’ll find yourself surprised at the turn your life has taken.
No matter your circumstance, weighing the pros and cons of quitting your job is no easy task. What will you do when you quit? How will you adapt to a new office or business? Are you really quitting for the right reasons, or are you simply making a rash decision?
To help you decide if you’re quitting for the right reasons, Fiscal Tiger has constructed this easy to follow guide. There are many reasons to quit your job, but there are also many reasons to stick it out a little longer. Before you make the final decision, read through and discover if you should (or should not) quit.
Table of Contents
The Many Reasons to Quit Your Job
Decisions are hard, especially if the decision you are making can have major effects on your life. However, when it comes to quitting your job, there are some factors that simply cannot be ignored. If you find that any of these situations relate to your current job, then it might be time to start planning a career change:
- Your happiness: Not every day at your job is going to be full of sunshine and smiles, but when the bad days far outweigh the good, then that’s a surefire sign that you will need out as soon as possible. This is especially true if you’re experiencing an unreasonable amount of stress. In cases like this, it’s important to remember that your mental health can have a major effect on your physical body. If you’re constantly in a high-stress mode, that stress will eventually start to manifest in other ways: anywhere from heart issues to back issues, or even digestive problems. If you find that the majority of your time at work is spent being stressed and upset, then it’s certainly time to find a new job.
- Your motivation: If your job is no longer satisfying you, you’re going to notice some changes in your behavior. For one, you may no longer have the drive to get up in the morning and get to work on time. Maybe you’re a bad culture fit for the company and you feel alienated from your coworkers. Additionally, you may be finding it extremely difficult to complete tasks. No matter what the issue is, if you’re daily drive is being affected it could be that your job is no longer working for you. Of course, there could be other reasons why you may be struggling (such as mental or physical health problems), and you’ll need to evaluate your unique situation. However, being disengaged at work can be due to a number of factors, and months of disengagement could be detrimental to both the business you’re working for and yourself. Instead of struggling in your current job, start searching for a job that really gets you excited to wake up in the morning.
- Your health: Your physical health should also be considered when deciding to stay or leave your job. Although modern day jobs don’t often expose workers to dangerous situations, some jobs can still have a detrimental impact on our health. Whether that’s from sitting in a cubicle all day and experiencing high blood pressure and severe back pain, to working in a warehouse that is full of harmful chemicals that can cause cancer: your health should always be prioritized. You can’t work at all if you end up permanently hurting your body. If your job puts your physical health at risk, considering finding a new and safer job.
- Lack of support or benefits from your job: Lastly, if you find that your job doesn’t do a great job of supporting you, then it might be time to change up your career path. This is especially true if you are in need of health benefits, a retirement plan, or simply are not being paid enough for the quality of work you bring to the table every day. Your employer should understand the benefit you provide them, and they should reward you in turn. If that’s not the case, then go out and find a job that can appreciate you and your work, and can provide you with the sort of benefits you need.
- Hostile work environment: Outside of these scenarios, there are always the more intense situations — such as when you’re on the receiving end of verbal or physical harassment from coworkers or superiors — where you should start looking for a new job immediately to escape your hostile work environment. Your personal health (both physical and mental) should never be put on the line for your career.
No matter what your reasoning is for looking for a new job, you should always make sure you have something lined up before you leave. However, if you’re unable to find a new job but still need out as soon as possible, there are government benefits (such as unemployment benefits) that you can rely on to help you transition between jobs.
Reasons to Not Quit Your Job
Of course, there are also situations in which you may want to quit your job, but you really shouldn’t. Primarily, those are situations in which your financial state could be at risk (such as when you don’t have a second job lined up), or when you’re acting within the spur of a moment without considering long-term consequences. Although this list isn’t exhaustive, consider if your motivations for quitting are somewhat related to one of these factors:
- You’re having a bad day (or bad week): Sure, not every day at work will be a good one, but a single bad day, a bad week, or even a bad month at work doesn’t mean it’s time to leave. It could be your employer is going through a transition, or you’re personally struggling, but sticking it out could be worth the extra effort you’re spending now. For one, your employer will appreciate (and possibly reward) your resilience during this difficult time, and for another you’ll feel better knowing you didn’t quit when the going was tough.
- You hate your position, but not your place of work: It could be that you’re struggling right now because the position you hold with the company does not play well off your strengths. If that’s the case, then it might be worth your time to apply for a different position within the company. If no position is available at the time, share your concerns with your manager and express your interest in switching things up. You never know what they can do for you until you ask, and it can certainly save you the stress of trying to find a whole new job.
- You can’t afford to leave: Again, if you don’t have a job lined up when you leave your current position, then you’re going to have a hard time. Unless your job is extremely harmful or hostile, try sticking it out a little longer until you can find the perfect job for you. Otherwise, quitting now will just cause you to financially struggle and add far more stress to your plate than if you had stayed at your job.
- You just need a break: Burnout at your job is real, and it can create a host of problems for your employer and yourself. However, burnout doesn’t always mean you need to leave your job; sometimes you just need a break. Take a vacation (even if it’s just for a couple of days) and use that time to unplug, step away, and truly relax. You might find that stepping away gives you a new perspective on your career path, or you may just feel rejuvenated and ready for work again.
- You need the health insurance (or other benefits): It’s possible your job isn’t very engaging or challenging, but it provides you with some amazing health and retirement benefits. If this is the case, it might be worth it to stick it out with your company until you can find a better position or you can find a new company that offers similar rewards for employees. Either way, if you need health insurance to survive, don’t be so hasty to give up a job that could jeopardize your access to quality healthcare.
- You don’t have another job lined up: As stated in the previous section, leaving a job before you find a new one can put you in a very financially unstable position. Avoid the stress of not being able to pay your bills, and find a new job before you leave your current one.
- You’re there for less than a year: If you’ve only been working with the company for a short time — and the place is not completely hostile or dangerous for you — then you should avoid quitting before you’ve spent a full year or two at the company. If you quit before the year, you’ll seem unreliable to future recruiters. Appearing to be a “job hopper” can be a major deterrent for professional recruiters and can be financially harmful for yourself, so avoid leaving your job until you’ve spent some time with the company. Who knows, you may actually grow to love it there!
Everyone experience rough patches during their careers, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up and leave. Consider your options, maybe take a vacation, and most importantly don’t act without considering all the consequences.
Should You Quit Your Job, Even if it Pays Well?
This question might be a tough one to answer (considering there are a multitude of variables that you might need to consider), but is also an extremely valid concern to have.
For many Americans, working in a town that doesn’t have a booming economy, or might only have a few businesses that can offer a livable wage can put a damper on prospects. If that’s the case, leaving your job can also mean losing out on a decent wage and all the benefits that come along with it. If this is your situation, then it might be a little tough to leave your job without causing serious financial stress.
However, there are also Americans that live in cities with a multitude of job opportunities. Giving up one high-paying job for another, more satisfying, lower paying career could be worth the risk. It all depends on what options are available in your location, and how much you are willing to give up for your own happiness.
In general, your satisfaction at your job is more beneficial than your salary. This is because doing what you love will actually cause you to be more successful in the long-run. If that means working for a small non-profit for a lower wage, then so be it. Being truly successful in your career means setting and meeting reasonable goals, being patient and growing with the business, and being dedicated to your work. As long as you love what you’re doing, the paychecks won’t really matter after a certain point.
Should You Quit Your Job in This Economy?
Sometimes we can’t control our financial situations, and many people who lived through a financial crisis can relate. If the economy is bad, is it still worth it to leave your job if you’re unhappy or unsafe? Additionally, is it better to quit your job, or wait to be laid off if you know your company is going to be cut back?
Quitting your job during a downturn in the economy can make job hunting trickier, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. There will still be businesses and industries that will prosper during this tough time, and it’s possible that you can manage to find a job in a new field. Additionally, you can start searching for jobs as soon as possible, and hopefully you will find something before you are laid off from your current job.
If you are seeing a wave of layoffs sweep your office, don’t quit before you are the next victim. Quitting can prevent you from collecting unemployment benefits, whereas getting laid off can almost guarantee you will get approved for them. Although it’s tough being laid off, it’s easier to explain to future recruiters, and it can provide you with some financial security via government benefits.
How to Know When to Quit, and What to do Next
Deciding to quit your job can be a hard move to make. Every situation is going to have a unique set of circumstances, and leaving before you’re ready can be detrimental to your financial, mental, and physical wellbeing.
However, when you’re positive that you’re ready to quit, make sure you go through the proper process of quitting your job professionally. The last thing you want is to leave a bad impression with your last employer, and potentially hamper any positive references. Additionally, before you put in your letter of resignation, have a new job lined up so you don’t have to stress about your income. The sooner you can get back to work, the smoother your transition will be between jobs.
Your career path may be filled with many twists or turns, but with every new job comes a new opportunity to prove your worth and build your resume. Don’t let your current job stall your rise to success.
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Katie McBeth is a researcher and writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. Her favorite subject of study is millennials, and she has been featured on Fortune Magazine and the Quiet Revolution. She researches SEO strategies during the day, and freelances at night. You can follow her writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published December 26, 2017.