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Quit or Get Fired - Knowing When It's Time to Leave Your Job

Posted by Ryan Howard on Thu, May 23, 2013

Walking away from your Job

In today's competitive work environment, more people are choosing to stay with their jobs longer instead of hunting out new opportunities.  Few people are willing to jump off a stable ship into uncharted water. Yet still, even today, there are times when leaving your job is the right decision to make.  The difficult decision may be when to make that move.

A couple of years ago, my stepfather and business partner shared with me his position on "entitlement". In the context of working with our company, he told me:

"The moment you start acting like you've arrived; is when it’s time for you to leave".

His message was clear. If I ever started acting entitled, it was time for me to get out. In other words, I better plan to keep my sleeves rolled up, my feet on the ground, and take pride in my work. But for the record, taking pride in your work doesn't mean you have to love what you do (although that's a nice perk!). It means genuinely caring about the outcomes you produce. 

This got me thinking about knowing when it's time to throw in the towel and leave your job. Acting with a sense of entitlement, arrogance, or lack of pride are certainly a few good reasons to move on. But there are some other warning signs that it may be time to quit.

Sometimes, it's an easy transition to make.  If for example, when you wake up every morning, you cringe at the thought of going to your job, a career change is in order. On the other hand, if the pathway is not clearly marked, you must look for the warning signs to know when it's time to move on.

Warning signs that it might be time to quit your job.

1.  You can't realistically keep up the pace.  It's nice to believe you can do everything, but that isn't a realistic expectation.  Unfortunately, many workers today find themselves with greater workloads and less time to complete given tasks.  If your job invades your personal time and still cannot be realistically accomplished, consider looking for a change.  First, speak to your boss and determine if this is a temporary or permanent situation.  It could be the peek season for your profession.  If you're working for a CPA, you should probably expect to have frazzled hair throughout the entire first half of April.  On the other hand, if the situation is expected to persist indefinitely with no additional help brought on, you should consider a change in position.  You cannot maintain healthy professional growth if you're so burden under the stress of your job that you can't function efficiently.

2.  Your reputation with the company has been tarnished.  In many ways, an employer/employee relationship is like a marriage -- you never fully know how it will turn out until you say "I do." For many people, it's a happy union.  For others, not so much.  If you find yourself at constant odds with your boss, regardless of who's fault it may be, your professional reputation may be at stake.  Salvage what you can and move on before the damage is irreparable. 

3.  Your moral compass is at odds with the company.  Is the company you work for ethically challenged?  If so, leaving your job may be your only real option.  As with any decision, this isn't something to be taken lightly.  Is the issue in question a true ethic dilemma or a mild irritation?  All corporations have policies that may be difficult to agree with.  For example, your company may not offer any bereavement leave in the case of a loved one passing.  But, if the issue in question goes completely against your moral fiber, consider leaving your job. Understand that if you stay, you will not be able to change the corporate structure nor will you believe in the work you are doing.  It's time to move on.

4.  You are no longer professionally challenged.  Perhaps you've reached as high as you can go within that company hierarchy or you may find that you're no longer learning in your position.  Whatever the reason, stagnation in your job is always counterproductive.  If you're bored and can't find any excitement in your work, consider leaving your job.

Seldom is a situation completely one sided.  With all jobs, there are good and bad aspects to deal with.  If you're considering leaving your job, first look closely to make sure there's nothing you can do to improve your situation. Then weigh both sides without bias.  If the bad outweighs the good, it's time to look for something else.

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Topics: Employee Relationship Management