We all have bad days at work. But if your bad days have turned into bad weeks or months, a pressing question may have crept its way into your head: should I quit my job?
It’s one of the biggest professional decisions you’ll make, and one with the potential to significantly change the trajectory of your career, so quitting isn’t something to take lightly. We tapped our team of recruiting professionals for their expert advice on reasons to quit a job, both good and bad, and some things to consider before you hand in your two weeks’ notice.
Should I Leave My Current Role?
If you’re beginning to grapple with the question of whether to quit your job, the first thing to ask yourself is “why do I want to leave?” More specifically, are you running away from something rather than toward something else? If it’s the former, your problem might be better solved by addressing whatever’s bothering you about your job head-on.
If your workload has become unmanageable, have you had an honest conversation about it with your boss? If you have an intolerable coworker, have you tried asking them directly to change their problematic behavior? If you’re no longer engaged with the work, have you asked for more responsibility or considered trying for a promotion? While these can make for some tricky conversations, it’s usually the most effective way to deal with a problem at work as opposed to just walking away from the job.
The next question to ask is, “what do I expect to solve by quitting?” All jobs come with the possibility of bad bosses, annoying coworkers, draining shifts and demanding customers, so if one of these is the root of your issue, getting a job somewhere else isn’t necessarily going to fix the problem in the long term. On the other hand, if your answer is something like “quitting my job will free up the time I need to go back to school” or “I need the time off to tend to a major health issue,” these scenarios where your problem could in fact be solved by leaving your job and thus, might be justified.
Should I Quit Without Another Job Lined Up?
It’s one thing to quit your job if you have a better opportunity awaiting you. In that case, by all means, hand in your resignation and move on to greener pastures. If you don’t have something else lined up, though, it’s much more difficult to make a logical case for quitting (though not entirely out of the question!).
The first consideration of leaving your job without another one lined up is the financial burden, especially in the current economy. How much money do you have in savings? What’s your plan if your savings runs out before you land another job? What will you do for healthcare, and how will this impact your retirement savings?
The next thing to consider is the added difficulty of getting a job when you’re unemployed. Like it or not, it’s true that it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job. Being unemployed draws additional scrutiny from employers and may put you at a disadvantage when you’re up against other candidates.
There are a few cases where we’d advocate for leaving a job without something else lined up. If your job is putting you or someone else in danger, if you’re being asked to do something illegal or unethical, or if your job is seriously affecting your health beyond normal work-related stress, it’s likely in your best interest to step away.
We like to compare quitting without another job lined up to a ‘get out of jail free’ card: think of it as a free pass that’s reasonable to use one time in your career. If you do it more than once, it’s a dangerous path that could seriously derail your future job prospects.
Should I Quit During Coronavirus?
Covid-19 has, understandably, shifted many of the pieces of conventional wisdom around quitting your job. Employees are dealing with a range of scenarios we’ve never before encountered, from caring for a sick loved one to staying home with kids who are distance learning. Women have been particularly hard hit, leaving the workforce¹ at four times the rate of men.
In light of these extenuating circumstances, it may make sense to leave your job even if you don’t have something else lined up or aren’t sure when you might return to the workforce. For the foreseeable future, employers are likely to be more forgiving of candidates who left their jobs due to circumstances stemming from the pandemic than they would be in pre-Covid times.
Additionally, some states have loosened the eligibility restrictions for unemployment benefits, making them accessible even to workers who voluntarily leave their jobs under certain circumstances. This may make quitting your job during the pandemic more feasible if you qualify under your state’s guidelines.
6 Good Reasons to Quit a Job
Leaving your job isn’t always a bad thing, of course. Millions of people do it every year and wind up in better circumstances. So what are some good reasons to quit a job?
You have a better opportunity
This might mean higher pay, a better title, more challenging job duties, or a role with a company you’ve always dreamed of working for. Having another opportunity waiting in the wings is wonderful and usually a very practical reason for leaving a job.
You’re in a toxic work environment
There will be things you dislike about any job, and even your dream job will come with some hard days. But if the bad days far outnumber the good and it’s taking a toll on your psyche, it might be a good reason to quit. If you have a boss who’s verbally or physically abusive or you’re the victim of harassment that the company is refusing to address, it’s probably a good idea to get out.
There’s no path to advancement
Sometimes, you simply reach the top of the available ladder in a company. This is especially true in smaller organizations with limited high-level roles. If you’ve made a strong case for why you deserve a raise or a more senior job title but you aren’t getting anywhere, it might be time to move on.
Your values are no longer aligned with those of the company
Companies are like people—they grow and change. The company you signed on with as a new graduate ten years ago might be vastly different than the organization you work for today. Perhaps the culture is no longer a fit for you, the company’s strategic direction has shifted, or your career has taken a different direction from the one you had initially expected. All of these are acceptable reasons to want to make a change.
Sometimes quitting your job comes down to physical logistics. Whether you’re moving across town to a bigger house or across the country for your partner’s job, it might make staying with your current employer impractical. However, if this is the case, it’s certainly worth exploring telecommuting opportunities, as many companies have embraced the option for remote work.
Dealing with an illness in yourself or a loved one, going back to school, taking time off to raise a family, changing career paths or tending to your mental health can all be valid reasons for quitting a job.
3 Bad Reasons to Quit a Job
Now that we’ve covered the legitimate reasons to quit, what are some of the worst reasons for leaving a job?
Let’s be frank: work is called work for a reason. It’s not always going to be fun, nor is it meant to be. Many people tend to romanticize the idea of the “perfect job,” when in reality most jobs come with their fair share of pros and cons. If you find you’re bored with your work, take steps to change that before throwing in the towel. Ask for more responsibility. Volunteer to take the lead on projects. Let your boredom be your motivation to job search and line up a better opportunity at a company you’re excited about.
You hate your boss
Unfortunately, bad bosses are more common than you might think. While they can certainly make work miserable, an incompetent manager alone is probably not reason enough to quit until you have another position lined up elsewhere. Our best advice is to try to stick it out while you search for something better, than relish the moment when you get to hand in your two weeks.
You have a terrible coworker
Working with difficult people is part of, well, work. There are going to be tedious people at every job, and part of your responsibility as an employee is to find ways to get along with all of the different personalities that come with a workplace. If it’s an annoying habit that’s grinding your gears, like a coworker who never stops talking or who doesn’t pitch in to keep the break room tidy, your best bet is to speak with them about it tactfully but directly. If it’s something that’s genuinely affecting your work, like someone whose mistakes are causing you to miss deadlines, flag it for your manager and let them take the lead on resolving it.
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