This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
Deciding to quit a job is a significant moment in your professional career. While it’s normal to have challenges at work, feeling a deep and lasting dissatisfaction towards your job is worth exploring. It's important to recognize the difference between when you should work through a challenge and when it's time to leave a position.
There are many valid personal and professional reasons to leave a job. In this article, we’ll walk through 15 signs it may be time to quit.
Signs it may be time to leave a job
- You are underusing your skills.
- You are not following your passion.
- The work environment is unhealthy.
- There are no opportunities for growth.
- The company's future is in question.
- Your ethics are being compromised.
- You are grossly under-compensated.
- Your values are not aligned with those of the organization.
- You are no longer able to fulfill your job responsibilities.
- There are substantially better opportunities available at another organization.
- You need more work-life balance.
- You dread going to work.
- You can’t picture yourself there long term.
- You wouldn’t want your friends to work there.
Everything feels overwhelming.
1. You are underusing your skills
Although often comfortable, a job that does not challenge you is one you should consider leaving. Staying in this type of situation may limit your growth potential and may also lead to feelings of complacency or frustration. This is especially true if you have requested opportunities to use different skill sets and those opportunities were denied by your manager or senior leaders.
2. You are not following your passion
When you are passionate about your work, it creates a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment. It also often results in higher rates of productivity, improved outcomes and sometimes a feeling that you are not even working at all. Without this, work can feel monotonous and more like a job than a career. You may also feel like you are wasting your potential by not using your skills for something you are passionate about. If you don't feel excited about your work or the work your company is doing, consider looking for another position.
Related: How to Deal With Job Dissatisfaction
3. The work environment is unhealthy
An unhealthy work environment has implications for your professional and personal happiness and is a sign that you should quit your job. Examples of an unhealthy work environment include punitive and controlling management practices, distrust and dishonesty among senior leaders, public shaming and/or harassment of employees and ineffective communication. Symptoms of an unhealthy environment often include high employee turnover, physical symptoms associated with coming to work, employees not speaking honestly for fear of retaliation and more. If you find yourself in an environment like this, research possible coping strategies and implement them while you look for a new job.
4. There are no opportunities for growth
When there are no longer opportunities for growth in your organization, it is usually time to move on. Opportunities for growth are not limited to promotions or vertical advances in an organization. Opportunities can also come in the form of working on a new project, learning a new branch of the business, being mentored by a senior leader or taking on a mid-level leadership position. Before quitting, engage your manager and formally request this type of opportunity. If the organization is not open to any type of growth opportunity, it's a sign you should quit.
Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career
5. The company's future is in question
Although many companies experience cycles of highs and lows, if your company is significantly underperforming and/or in legitimate danger of closing, you should consider leaving. In for-profit organizations, this is often determined by their sales and revenue. Reviewing your company's annual financial reports can provide insight into its financial health and potential longevity. Financial challenges can also jeopardize the future of non-profit organizations that rely on grants and government contributions to operate. Staff layoffs, reduction in client base, salary freezes and closing of select offices are additional signs that your organization's financial future may be in question.
6. Your ethics are being compromised
Anytime you are in a situation that requires you to compromise your ethics or decision-making, it is time to leave. This is especially true in professional settings because of the potential long-term implications for your career. Even if the compromise feels necessary to survive at your current job, compromising your values can negatively impact your ability to get a future job as well as your morale and sense of pride in the meantime. A common example of an ethical compromise is when employees implement harmful or misleading customer policies because they generate more revenue.
7. You are grossly under-compensated
Although individuals sometimes accept a lower salary in exchange for a unique opportunity or non-financial fringe benefits, if you are significantly under-compensated at your job, you should consider leaving. Being under-compensated can reflect a mismatch between what you and the company perceive to be your value and growth potential. That mismatch can have many different implications for the responsibilities you are assigned and your longevity with the organization. Staying in this situation can also lead to frustration or resentment because of the logistical lifestyle implications of a low salary or subpar healthcare or related benefits.
8. Your values are not aligned with those of the organization
Related to following your passion and compromised ethics, if your personal values are not aligned to your organization, it is likely an indicator that you need to leave. If this misalignment has not already resulted in pressure to compromise your ethics, it is likely to in the future. Being misaligned with organizational leaders has implications beyond ethics, however. It can result in varying approaches to the work, differing prioritization of assignments, different methods for managing employees and a difference of opinion about key policies and strategies. Before this misalignment results in a significant conflict, consider looking for another job.
9. You are no longer able to fulfill your job responsibilities
Whether as a result of a physical illness, recent changes in your personal life or structural changes within the organization, if you are unable to fulfill your job responsibilities, you should consider quitting. Staying at a job when your ability to perform your job duties is compromised leaves you vulnerable to termination. In addition to the immediate financial impact of termination, being fired can also negatively impact your ability to gain employment elsewhere. If attempts to adjust your job responsibilities or the circumstances creating the challenge are unsuccessful, consider it a sign to leave the position.
10. There are substantially better opportunities available at another organization
Even at jobs that are comfortable, with a positive work environment and supportive colleagues, if there are substantially better opportunities at other organizations in your field, you should consider quitting to pursue them. This includes opportunities for higher salaries, career advancement, a broader professional network or professional fulfillment. Even if there is not one specific opportunity you are pursuing elsewhere, if thorough research of other companies reveals better opportunities outside of your organization, you should consider quitting. When doing so, being thoughtful about your job search can help ensure you choose an organization that will offer exactly what you are looking for.
Related: How to Find the Best Jobs for You
11. You need more work-life balance
Although a strong work ethic is a positive trait, and occasional overtime work is inevitable, if you find yourself working constantly, it's a sign it's time to quit your job. Working an excessive number of hours per week without adequate work-life balance can have negative consequences for your health and well-being as well as your productivity and work quality. If you are unable to establish boundaries or set more realistic expectations with your manager, research job opportunities with a better work-life balance and then quit your current job.
12. You dread going to work.
Feeling sad when the weekend is over, or looking forward to days off/vacation time is normal. However, if you get a pit in your stomach when you think about work or lose sleep at night because you’re feeling anxious about going to work it may be a sign it’s time to quit. While work doesn’t always have to feel fulfilling and fun, you should feel comfortable there. You spend a large chunk of your day at work and if your time off is spent dreading your return it’s likely to start affecting your physical and mental health.
13. You can’t picture yourself there long term.
Similar to seeing no opportunities for growth, if you can’t picture yourself at the company long-term, it may be time to start considering other options. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year to find a new and more fitting job, so if you can’t picture yourself at your company a year from now consider starting your job search soon.
Read more: 14 Job Hunting Tips to Get the Job You Want
14. You wouldn’t want your friends to work there.
If you wouldn’t recruit your friends to work at your company, then why is it acceptable for you to be working there? You often want the best for your friends and family, so if you don’t think your company is good enough for them consider that a sign you should quit. Looking at it through this lens can help you recognize that you might deserve a better opportunity.
15. Everything feels overwhelming.
Work can be stressful, that is inevitable. But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious at every little setback or problem that pops up it may be a sign you’re headed towards burnout. In addition, if projects or work-tasks that used to bring you joy are now feeling stressful or burdensome it may be a sign that you’re overworked and it’s time to move on to another opportunity.
Considerations before quitting your job
If you’ve decided that quitting your job is the best decision for you, consider your timeline. It’s best to have another opportunity lined up when you turn in your resignation. While each situation for quitting is personal and complex, finding a new job before quitting helps to mitigate the risk of losing income and benefits and having employment gaps on your resume.
While deciding you need to quit a job is not an ideal situation, reflecting on the experience can help you find a good fit moving forward. When you begin your job search, take the time to decide what it is you want in a job, company and career path.
Steps to try to resolve the problem before quitting
If after reading this article you are still unsure if quitting is the right move, you may consider trying to resolve the issue. It may be true that your work satisfaction can be improved by a few changes. Consider what would make you feel better about work and talk with your manager about it. Come to the table with ideas of projects, responsibilities or career development opportunities that would improve your happiness. It may be the case that your manager and team are willing to work with you to keep you at the company.
Read more: How to Find the Best Jobs for You