5 Signs It Might Be Time to Leave Your Job

Posted: 11/12/14 | Category: Job Search

A bad job can have sweeping effects on your overall career. It stunts your growth and causes a toxic malaise to spread into other parts of your life. Yet often, we ignore our needs and stretch beyond our thresholds for a paycheck. Before you push your breaking point, review these five factors to see if you should leave your job.

The Commute – For most of us, a bad commute can be obnoxious but it’s rarely grounds for leaving your job. Before you dismiss it outright, take a look at your outright costs:

• How many miles do you travel round trip?
• How many miles do you get per gallon on your vehicle?
• How much does gas cost in your area?
• What do you pay in monthly tolls?

There are plenty of commute calculators out there. We used CommuteSolutions.com (which doesn’t include an option for tolls), but gives a pretty reasonable estimate of what you pay monthly and yearly. Yet that doesn’t even factor in money spent on oil & filter changes, new tires, and vehicle wear-and-tear due to all that accumulated mileage.

For that matter, think about the amount of time spent on the road. If your commute regularly takes large chunks out of your day, it might be worth reevaluating your job’s overall worth. It’s especially worth considering if that job isn’t aligned with your career goals

Flat Structure – Upward mobility can be hugely important, especially if you’re the grimacing base of the totem pole. This is when it’s important to consider your five year plan and where your current job fits into it.

Clarify with your boss how your career can grow. Ask questions like “what would someone in my position need to do to earn a promotion in 6 months? What about a promotion in one year?” These questions allow you to determine if ascension through the ranks is even possible.

An office with a flat structure and limited hierarchy is perfectly fine for some people. Often, a warm culture or challenging projects can offset discontent. But if it’s plain that you can go no further within the current structure, don’t anchor yourself down in a stagnant pool. A CareerBuilder study found 45% of job seekers sought new jobs because of a lack of growth opportunities.

Below Average Challenges – A job that isn’t challenging won’t keep you content for long. In the same CareerBuilder study, 35% of job seekers wanted to change companies because they felt underemployed in their current role. Ask yourself:

• How engaged do I feel by these projects?
• How much time do I waste at work (Salary.com says 89% of employees waste time daily)?
• Are critical skills becoming rusty on the job?

Whether your answer is yes or no, it’s important to know how devastating a lack of challenging work can be.

Boredom is associated with everything from overeating and alcohol abuse to depression and a higher risk of making more mistakes. Additionally, if your boredom levels continue to rise, you risk the continued degradation of your attention span in ways that may be difficult to repair. That can hobble your career if you fail to quit your job before the effects set in.

Lack of Flexibility – Life is about compromise. You trade off one thing for another. However, the moment you begin to make inordinate sacrifices in favor of work should be a warning sign.

Does a restrictive or demanding work life prevent you from the following?

• Making formative memories with your kids?
• Meeting obligations to family and friends?
• Attending events and outings that leave you feeling energized?

You may not be able to make everything, but if there are far more instances of things you’ve had to miss, it might be worth starting your job search again.

Conflict with Your Boss – This should have the lowest breaking point. If you are constantly ramming up against your boss, then it’s obviously time to move on. However, certain mentalities keep abused employees from leaving.

Thoughts like “I’m not a quitter,” or “I’ve invested so much in this job already” are often cement shoes for job seekers, holding them firmly down in a terminal role.

On a Final Note:

It’s not realistic to use any single criterion when contemplating quitting your job. The decision to quit your job should be the sum of everything involved in it, both good and bad. To find your answer, you need to factor in your commute, your growth opportunities, your challenges, your job flexibility, and any conflict with your boss. That way, you’re always leaving your job for the right reasons.

by James Walsh

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