It’s easy to quit a job you hate, but how do you know whether it’s time to go before you get to the point of hatred and burnout? This process can help you decide if it’s time to quit.
You’ve been at a great job for several years, but you begin to wonder: is it time to move on? Maybe something changed recently, or perhaps you got a call from a recruiter. It could just be that everyone else seems to be leaving, and you wonder if you should as well. Instead of just going with your gut or some other emotional reaction, going through a serious of questions can help you rationally figure out the best path for you.
The band The Clash gives us a clue as to how to think about it.
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
We can begin by thinking about the pains of each option. More accurately it’s the pros and cons of staying or taking a new job.
That seems easy enough, but there are crucial points to consider. The first is to understand, what’s the duration of the benefits or pain in your current role? If your boss just assigned you to a three-month project which you find dull, that’s not a great reason to leave. Not everything we do at work is part of our ideal job. Someone needs to do the boring work and at times that person is you, temporarily. If, however, your manager now says you’re the one doing the boring work for the next two years (or longer), and it’s now three-quarters of your job responsibilities, that’s different. Your job significantly, and permanently, changed. A new manager who you’re clashing with is a permanent change, unless it’s just temporary while you two learn each other’s styles. Only you can know, but it’s important to understand if this change is transitory or systemic. Ask yourself:
Even good things may change. You may love your job, but those rumors of your company buying another could be problematic. Sure, it sounds good for your company, but if the acquisition target is being bought for their excellent warehouse operations team what does it mean for those of you on the perhaps-not-quite-as-excellent current warehouse operations team? Maybe it means you’ll be part of the new team and can grow your skill set. Maybe it means you better warm up that network because you’re going to need a new job soon. Ask yourself:
Successful people, however, don’t simply react to circumstances; rather, they have a plan and execute that plan based on their circumstances.
Next consider that there is uncertainty in the move. As I talk about in [ref] there’s big uncertainty when you don’t have a specific new job lined up. Even if you have a concrete job offer, we all know it’s never exactly what it seems. Implicit in the move is the chance that the grass may not be as green as it appears. Ask yourself:
More subtle, but very important, is the cost of moving. You have some investment in your current company. You have a reputation which gives you a certain amount of trust and credibility. You lose that when you switch and need to build it back up; you’ll need to reprove yourself. (Of course, if your reputation is tarnished at your current company, switching to a new company would be helpful.) Likewise in your current role you have an internal network and know how to get things done understanding the culture and unwritten rules of the organization. You lose all that when moving to a new company and need to invest time and effort into rebuilding it. Those costs will be amortized over the duration of your time at the new company, of course, but it’s still a cost. Consider that even a proper job search has a cost, whether or not you take the new job. Ask yourself:
While the questions above are asked when we no longer like your job, they should be considered even if you’ve just been at your job for a while. Job hopping is a red flag that’s remarkably common on a resume. Less common is someone who has stayed too long in a job. Note that I said “job” not “company.” Different roles at the same company are different jobs (just with the same person signing your paycheck). It’s not that a long tenure is bad, but if you’re no longer growing or challenged in your role, it’s ok to ask if there is something better out there. Ask yourself:
Of course, the best way to make this decision, no matter your motivation, is to have a plan. When you see a fork in the road it’s hard to know which path to take if you don’t know where you’re going. And while artists may wax poetic about wandering through some woods for those who have career aspirations, wandering isn’t a great strategy. When you have a career plan you can also ask not only if your current job, versus another likely option, is paying you well, but also if it’s moving you in the direction and at the speed you want to go. If it’s not, and if there’s another option out there which is more likely to, it may be time to switch. (If you’re not sure where to start with a career plan, try asking these career plan questions.) Ask yourself:
When you don’t like your job, it’s easy to want to quit. Successful people, however, don’t simply react to circumstances; rather, they have a plan and execute that plan based on their circumstances. Using the concepts above, think through your current role before you just up and quit. Without this process, it’s too easy to react emotionally and make a bad decision. With it, you can know it’s time to quit before the pain becomes unbearable. Good luck.
It’s critical to learn about corporate culture before you accept a job offer but it can be awkward to raise such questions. Learn what to ask and how to ask it to avoid landing yourself in a bad situation.