It’s tough making the decision to quit your job, especially now with the unemployment so high. So, how do you know if you should stay or go?
Some people try to stick out a job they don’t love out of fear they’ll get labeled as a “job hopper” or have trouble finding the next gig (after all, most recruiters prefer to hire people who are already employed). Others find that leaving a stressful job frees them up emotionally and logistically to find the next job.
I left my full-time copywriting job two years ago to focus on freelance projects. I had some concerns, but it felt like the right time, because I was getting so many freelance writing projects that I had to turn many of them away due to my day job. Other times I’ve left job because there was nowhere for me to advance in the company or because the corporate culture wasn’t a fit for me (those times I had new jobs before I left or within a day of giving my resignation).
Here are four common reasons why people quit their jobs. Remember, though, everyone’s situation is different, so only you really know when it’s time to move on.
1. You’re so stressed, you find yourself popping Xanax like candy.
No job is worth sacrificing your health. But before you throw in the towel and give notice, it’s a good idea to talk to your boss about your workload. Maybe you can delegate a few of your responsibilities to the office intern or find a way to streamline your to do list. It’s also smart to see a therapist or career coach if stress management is an issue to help ensure that it doesn’t follow you in your next job. Despite budget cuts on budgets, some larger companies still offer on-site counseling, yoga, or workshops on coping with stress. If your company culture just isn’t conducive to a reasonable work-life balance or if you’re stuck with a toxic boss, it may be time to move on. The tough thing about this situation is that it’s hard to hold down a demanding job and job hunt, so some people who have a decent cushion of savings and reasonable expectations of finding a new job consider leaving their current position to focus on finding something better.
2. You’re asked to do something illegal or ethically wrong.
Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in this position, but if you do, it’s a good reason to say sayonara and search for greener pastures. For instance, I know people who work in social media and have been asked to falsify testimonials or pose as customers on popular blogs and forums. Although some companies employ these techniques, they’re not considered a best practice, and they’re nothing to brag about in your next job interview. Most of the people I know in this position have since moved on, because the request made them uncomfortable and showed that the company’s values were at odds with their own.
3. You see the writing on the wall and sense that your company is headed for disaster.
If you hear rumors of lay-offs or downsizing, you could stick it out and hope you aren’t among the newly unemployed or use that severance package while you search for your next job. But if things are more dire than that – like if your company is headed for bankruptcy or a major corporate scandal – you may want to get out before the s— really hits the fan. Recruiters like to say that you’re most employable when you’re already employed, so start job searching and building your network now.
4. You’ve built up your side business and you’re ready to focus on it full-time.
I wouldn’t recommend leaving your day job simply because you want to write the Great American Novel or dream of finally starting your own widget business. Freelancing or starting a business are both a lot harder than they look! If you’ve been doing it for awhile and you have a plan, though, these can be a very rewarding way to escape your cubicle and build something out of your creative passions. Don’t make this jump simply because you’re unhappy in your current job. Many freelancers start writing, designing, or coding on the side, then eventually transition to part-time employee or jump into full-time freelancing with both feet. However, if your company has a policy against moonlighting, you may have to re-negotiate that part of your contract or find another job that’s more flexible.
When did you know it was time to quit your job? In retrospect, are you glad you did? Why or why not?
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