Do you feel trapped in an unfulfilling position or career? Are you ready for greater challenges, a better work culture, or a higher paycheck? The idea of starting fresh can be compelling, but it's also important to consider potential downsides before leaving a stable position. How you proceed could impact not only your long-term career journey, but also, your mental health, relationships, and more.
There's a lot to consider as you plan the next big step in your career. With so much at stake, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. So, let’s learn what we can to cover all our bases. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about leaving your job.
Keep reading to learn whether a new position can help you feel fulfilled—or whether you'd be better served by changing your mindset or your entire career.
Could a Change in Mindset Help?
Before you start thinking of reasons to quit your job, be mindful of the expectations you had going into your current job versus the reality of your professional lifestyle. Is it possible you were overly optimistic about how happy you'd be on a day-to-day basis? Every job, regardless of whether it aligns with your passion, may feel frustrating or even mundane from time to time.
As you determine whether your current mindset is valid, think about what, exactly, you don't like about your job. How severe are your complaints? Do they reflect issues that other employees have with your specific position or with your career path in general? Has your impression of your job changed abruptly, or have you suffered a slow and steady decline in professional satisfaction?
In addition to examining the negative elements of your job, remind yourself of all that you appreciate about it. Maybe you've developed close friendships with your coworkers. Perhaps you work for an organization that emphasizes charitable giving or equitable practices. Highlight these and other upsides before contrasting them with your current complaints.
If you're reasonably pleased with your job but don't feel the thrill that initially accompanied this position, keep in mind that, should you start working somewhere else, the novelty at that new location would also eventually wear off. With a little soul-searching, you can determine whether your current ambivalence can be solved with a new, more positive mindset—or whether it really is time to move on.
3 Things to Consider When Questioning if You Should Quit Your Job
You're not convinced that mindset is at the heart of your unhappiness at work — but you're also hesitant to leave. Keep the following considerations in mind as you determine the next best steps for your career.
- A desire for advancement. It's possible that you're a great fit for your current employer but simply need new challenges or responsibilities to keep you engaged. If so, it might be worth your while to seek a promotion or even try to move laterally into a different department. If opportunities for advancement are limited with your current employer, it could be time to seek work somewhere else.
- Job opportunities with other employers. How difficult is it to find work in your field? If you're generally happy with your job and you suspect that similar work might be challenging to obtain, it's best to hold off on hasty decisions until you've determined what, exactly, you want to do next and which skills or credentials will help you get there. Don't focus merely on whether such job opportunities exist but also how they compare in terms of pay, benefits, vacation time, and workplace environment.
- The need for an updated resume. If you acquired your current position years ago, it's possible that your resume will need a boost before you hit the job market. This could mean not only adding recent professional accomplishments but also seeking additional training if your resume falls short of those submitted by others in your field. Don't forget to also update your LinkedIn page.
5 Reasons to Quit a Job
Reasons abound for leaving your job. Some of these are easy to identify and warrant a quick departure, while others may not become evident until later. The following are among the main issues prompting today's employees to quit:
- Poor compensation. Whether you're dissatisfied with your pay or your benefits, compensation will play a huge role in your decision. While there's something to be said for following your passion regardless of pay, you'll be far more satisfied with your day-to-day life if you can cover basic necessities. Concerns with pay may also arise if you fail to receive raises to reflect both your hard work and increases in the cost of living.
- Lack of work-life balance. When you leave the workplace and head home, are you truly able to keep your work in the office? Perhaps you find yourself pressured to constantly check emails or complete additional tasks when you're supposed to be dedicating time to yourself and your family. Everybody needs time to recharge. If your workplace consistently fails to provide such balance, consider seeking employment elsewhere. Vacation time may also play into this decision. Even if your job appears to provide several weeks off, you might need a change if you feel incapable of actually making full use of your vacation.
- Toxic workplace environment. If you feel disrespected or suffer low morale on a day-to-day basis, a toxic workplace may be to blame. While addressing such concerns with a supervisor or HR can sometimes help, such tactics offer no guarantee of improvement. Don't let a toxic environment destroy your mental health. A swift change is especially important if issues such as harassment or discrimination come into play.
- Lack of passion. Perhaps you generally like your job and all the perks it provides—and despite all this, you still feel unfulfilled. While a job change won't necessarily resolve a lack of passion for your general career field, it might be all that's needed to remind you what drew you to a particular sector in the first place.
- Intuition. Sometimes, there is no discernible reason for wanting to leave your job. If your intuition alerts you that something isn't quite right, don't discount such feelings of unease. Look deeper to determine why your gut is telling you something's off—and don't be afraid to make a change if you truly feel that you need something new.
How to Go About Quitting Your Job
How you call it quits matters just as much as whether you should do so in the first place. The wrong approach could damage your professional reputation and stand in the way of finding future work. If, however, things remain amicable, you might be able to call upon your previous supervisor or coworkers. These professionals could provide letters of recommendation or other forms of assistance as you embark on your job search.
Of course, significant exceptions exist. A good-natured exit may not be possible if you dealt with a toxic workplace culture—and especially if your departure was prompted by discrimination, sexual harassment, or other unacceptable issues.
If you believe that you can end your employment amicably, be sure to provide plenty of notice so that a replacement can be found. This will help to ease the transition while also giving you plenty of time to prepare for your next job. Address your supervisor respectfully, and, if relevant, explain why you're ready to move on.
4 Job Hunting Tips
Begin your search for your next job before you leave your current position. Unfortunately, no matter how valid your reason for leaving, you'll find that prospective employers are far more receptive to applicants who are already employed. The longer you go without work, the more difficult you'll find getting a response. Other essentials for a successful job search include:
- Networking. As mentioned previously, networking can be surprisingly easy when you leave your previous employer on good terms. To begin, leverage your existing network to find opportunities. Don't forget to take advantage of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, all of which offer excellent opportunities for connecting with influential individuals who can help you score your next job.
- Revise your resume. Your updated resume should reflect any skills or credentials you've recently acquired. Employers care not only about the span of your career but also your commitment to keeping up to date with evolving industry trends.
- Research potential employers. Your resume, cover letter, and interviews should all be customized based on the specific attributes of your potential employer. Applying for a job with a nonprofit or a small business will look different than submitting your resume to a major company. Likewise, adjustments may be required based on corporate culture. While you should strive for authenticity throughout this process, it's also important to demonstrate why you're interested in working for a particular employer and how this organization will benefit from hiring you.
- Brush up on your interview skills. Once you've wowed a prospective employer with your resume and cover letter, it's time to follow up with an interview. Unfortunately, even the best job candidates can limit their chances of finding work if they struggle to demonstrate confidence and trustworthiness during the interview process. To prepare, draft a series of anticipated interview questions and practice answering them naturally—without a memorized script. Better yet, film yourself in a mock interview to identify where you can improve.
Should You Consider a Different Career Path? What About Returning to College?
What if the problem doesn't lie with your specific position, but rather, your field in general? If you're ready to switch career fields, you may require additional training or education. Take a personal inventory to determine where your passion truly lies and do your research to get a sense of typical requirements for potential jobs.
Depending on your experience and your adapted professional goals, you may find it easier and more fulfilling to embark on a new career journey after you've returned to school. If you already have your bachelor's, you might be able to get the training you need (or even a pay boost) by enrolling in a master's degree program or obtaining a certificate. Academic and career advisors can help you pinpoint what you need to take the next step in your career journey.