How Do You Know When It’s Time To Quit Your Job?

Jumping From Plane

It had only been four months, but Jim knew his new job wasn’t a fit. He’d been a recruiter in the military, but he thought he wanted to go into sales management.  It took almost no time to find a position with a parts distributor that wanted to build a sales team at their regional office. They needed a sales manager and Jim was just the man!. He was excited to start the job.

The excitement faded fast. The first thing Jim noticed was the revolving door. Two salespeople quit the team while he was at headquarters for training. The company owner, Carl, was friendly, but Jim observed that there wasn’t much dialogue with his people. Another regional sales manager clued him in, “Carl calls all the shots. You can get things done, but you need to know when to ask.”

After four months, Jim dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. The regional office was dysfunctional – there was no team, just tension. He was covering two sales territories and wearing out shoe leather and car tires with cold calls. Carl hadn’t given him the green light to hire anyone. He’d tried to make suggestions to improve the company’s outmoded processes. They’d been ignored. Carl called every day for reports and to give instructions, detailed instructions. It was time to leave his job.

When it’s time to leave

Ever been in this kind of situation? According to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers the average employee changes jobs every 4.6 years. While you may never find yourself in Jim’s shoes, it’s very possible that one of the jobs you take will be a mistake. So, how do you know when it’s time to strap on the parachute?

Here are a few signs that you should leave your job:

  1. No excitement – The passion is gone and it’s not coming back. You’re not learning and you’re not trying new things.
  2. Micromanaged – You have no input. Your ideas are ignored. Your skills aren’t being tapped.
  3. Ethical Issues – Company behavior is questionable. You can’t get behind the products and services. Customers aren’t valued.
  4. Bad boss (and no prospects for change) – You’re never thanked or recognized. Instead, the boss criticizes you and others frequently and publicly.
  5. The company is in a death spiral – Poor decisions, loss of business, or economic change mean the writing is on the wall. The business is going to fail.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of signs it’s time to quit. Weird company culture, lack of opportunity for promotion, poor organization and management structure – there are plenty of potential problems that can compound to make a job unbearable. And that’s the real determinant, isn’t it? What do you do when you dislike a job so much that your health, your attitude, and your own performance are suffering?

You make a decision. It’s time to quit.


Watch Out! That first step is a doozy!

No one really knows where this strange phrase came from, but it’s certainly applicable to the decision to leave a job. Deciding when to jump can be tough, but it’s certainly easier (and safer) with some preparation.  It’s good to know that the parachute is packed correctly before you exit the plane.

There’s no question that quitting impulsively isn’t the best plan. Burning the bridges with an employer is never a good idea, and there is also the question of financial planning for the transition. If at all possible, it’s good to keep the job you have until you find the next one, then give a reasonable notice and depart on good terms.

Career planning also comes into play, especially when you’re leaving a rough job. You want your next position to be the right one. It’s going to take some time. You’ll have to prepare your resume, focus on networking, and begin to interview.  It might be a good idea to get some career coaching  or interview coaching to help with the process.

Emergency Exit

It’s also good to have a plan if you have to exit the plane quickly. With preparation, it’s easier to strap on the parachute, jump, and hope for the best. That was Jim’s situation. He had planned a few days off to travel to a family event and had cleared the dates with Carl when he originally accepted the job. Days before the planned trip, Carl informed him that he would be needed at the headquarters for a called meeting. Attendance was mandatory. When Jim reminded the owner of the family event, Carl erupted and questioned his priorities. Jim chose the correct priority, put on the parachute, and took the first step out of the plane.

He landed safely. Jim was financially prepared for the departure. He had already started a new career search and was more careful and deliberate with the selection of his next move. He was successful. For the last two years, he’s worked as the HR manager for a local manufacturer where loves going to work every day.

Whether you’re leaving the military, considering a change, or strapping on the parachute,  CareerProPlus can help you prepare for a successful next step on your career journey. Since 1986, our team of Master Resume Writers and Master Career Advisers have worked with thousands of clients to help them find the right positions with private sector employers, government contractors and with the Federal government. Get in touch before you bail out!

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Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

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