How to know when to quit a job

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus was once quoted saying “the only thing that is constant is change.” Although he sounds like a character from Game of Thrones, this guy was grappling with the world way before George R. R. Martin could spell “Lannister.”

Change is difficult thing for me. I like knowing what to expect, I like knowing what is expected of me. I find value in being able to help others as well as learn from them, but if a working relationship is no longer mutually beneficial, it might be time to say enough is enough. It’s easy to storm out of a job you hate, but what about one you don’t? Recently I made a decision to leave a job and team that I loved, because I felt that I didn’t have the opportunities I needed to continue my career growth. Here are some ways to determine if it’s time to call it quits.

Know the difference between a job and a career

If you are like me, you give 110% at everything you do. So whether you are making a macchiato, or writing a proposal, the amount of effort you put in can often exceed the reward. It’s important to recognize if you are working in a “dead end” job, or if you are in a position that will continue to enable you to accrue knowledge and experience. I’ve yet to find my career, but have courted a number of diverse fields in search of the perfect fit.

Weigh all your options

Balance is important in a job. You must value the work, and enjoy the team, but you also need to weigh factors such as benefits, commute, salary, schedule and growth/advancement. If a job has great benefits, but no chance of advancement or growth, and a week full of 10 hour days, you know you may quickly burn out or will hit a ceiling and be looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

Take a little break

Nothing like taking a step back to get a better perspective of what is in front of you. I’ve found that taking a short vacation, or even a long weekend can help you recognize what is good and what is bad in your current situation. Ask your self challenging questions about where you want to be in five years, and if you are intellectually stimulated and satisfied with your current role. Continue making changes until you are content with what you have accomplished.

Work your networking options

Relationships evolve over time and can become even more meaningful and valuable. As an adult you’ll have school mates, peers, friends and co-workers; all of which can help you find your next job, or maybe even career. Stay in contact with teachers, mentors and colleagues to know what opportunities are out there. Try to never leave a job on bad terms so that you can rely on co-workers for references or suggestions. It’s always helpful to have a handful of folks who know your worth and are willing to talk about it!

Put in the research

Research jobs that interest you, even if they aren’t directly in line with your skill set. Search for new companies, and research their reviews online. Websites such as offer scores from current and past employees, as well as  an idea of a salary range for the role you are looking at. This information is crucial when it comes time to negotiate a salary in a new role.

Keep your work friends, but know that you’ll make more

I find it very hard to walk away from friends and co-workers, and sometimes this has inhibited me from branching out. I am an introvert and it’s difficult for me to make new friends and connections so I value and hold on to the ones that I have.

It’s important to remember that you didn’t walk into the current position with all of these relationships, and they too were built over time. The next job will have the same opportunity and will become as comfortable as the current situation.

Know when you’ve gotten what you can out of something

The day that you stop learning, should be the day you start to lose interest. Personally, the jobs that I seek out end up having a lot of responsibility, can be quite stressful and are very demanding. The harder the work, the greater the reward should be. If not, think about why you’re there.

The company you’re leaving will be OK without you

Emotional investment in a job can also make you feel like you can’t walk away. You may ask yourself, “what would the company do if I wasn’t here to run this project?” Yes, you are beneficial to every company that you join, but the truth is that the company isn’t going to close its doors if you walk away. They may need to hire a few people to fill your shoes, but don’t let feelings of guilt or obligation keep you from growing.

Leaving your comfort zone is good

Change is scary! Saying good bye is hard, and entering the unknown is incredibly daunting. Anticipate that it will be stressful and there will be a large learning curve for some time but keep your expectations of yourself in check and know that greatness will follow wherever you go.

Everything is a negotiation

Each employee has a specific skill set and strengths and weaknesses. Many have varying levels of education, work experience, and other valuable assets to a company. Know your value and what you bring to work every day in the event that one day you realize your company isn’t recognizing it. Again utilizing online resources can give you a range of what you should be making, and make sure your next job compensates you accordingly.

[Image via AMC]