How To Know When To Quit A Job
There are so many reasons to quit a job: a micromanaging boss, boredom, burn-out, or all of the above and then some. Yet, as adults, we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. So where do you draw the line?
First and foremost, if you are experiencing a toxic work situation such as gaslighting or sexual harassment, I urge you to find a new opportunity as soon as possible. Talk to one of our mentors for an external opinion, brainstorming, and morale support.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
-Michael Corleone, The Godfather: Part III
Changing jobs is a risk: new boss, new co-workers, and often greater expectations. The silver lining is you can usually expect a pay raise and a requisite honeymoon period to make mistakes. In a 2016 study of 5000 career changers, 63% received the same or higher base pay.
Let’s start with why people generally change jobs:
- Career Opportunities – means to growth and industry impact
- Pay & Benefits – compensation and perks
- Company Culture – organizational values, purpose, and vibes
- Work-Life Balance – what the job demands of you
- Management – how development, feedback, and challenges are handled
As a baseline exercise, copy these down on a sheet of paper and add two columns to the right: “Where I Am” and “What I Want”. Rate each on a scale of 1 to 5 (1/frustrated and 5/very satisfied; 1/not important and 5/very important).
Subtracting the two columns will reveal, at least empirically speaking, how far the current situation is from your personal aspirations.
Variance >= 2
The greater the gap, the more I would suggest exploring new companies. Simply because, in my experience, established organizations don’t change that much despite their best intentions. It often requires a radical change at the very top.
When seeking greener pastures, make sure you know what you want. Ranking the second column from high to low can help prioritize what to look for. If you get in the door, make sure to ask questions around these areas to better discern your next step. There are too many sad stories of people leaving bad jobs for worse ones.
On that note, here are the average Glassdoor ratings between new and old companies along the same dimensions. No average score is great, although New Jobs definitely hold a slight advantage.
Keep this in mind. For example, if you desire a “5” Management, there is a good chance that it may be difficult to find given that the average hovers around 2.85. Good management is hard to find and harder to do, which means it’s pretty average everywhere you go.
So just like dating, be realistic and open to what is out there without necessarily lowering your expectations. Remember you only need to find one.
Variance <= 2
The smaller the gap, the more I think you have a chance to negotiate your way to more job satisfaction. The good news is that your personal preferences aren’t that far off from your current situation. You authentically enjoy aspects of your job, which is a great starting point for a positive conversation to ask for what you want.
Now your task is to brainstorm what those things are.
[Read More: 10 Things To Negotiate Other Than A Title]
As someone who stayed with the same company for nearly a decade, I like to remind my mentees about the virtues of loyalty. There is something to be said about holding on when everybody else is bailing.
“Survive and you shall succeed.”
I was an intern in a network’s strategy & business development department when it was imploding. One director was on an extended wedding vacation in Italy, and the other had one foot out the door. The head of the department had just quit to join a film studio. His boss (the COO) was MIA in the hospital taking care of an ailing partner. And it was budget season.
At the end of the summer, the Group President bragged, “Our intern wrote our budget!” In hindsight, I’m not sure how well that came off, but it got a laugh which is all he really wanted.
It was not easy. I had no air cover, other employees would either ignore my requests or humiliate me for not knowing something basic. I cried in the bathroom. More than once. When they finally hired new management to take over, I was deadset on never returning despite surviving the summer.
Still the new boss was eager to hold onto anybody who knew anything. I listened, I countered, and I told myself it would be my “pay off the debt” job. We ended up working together for eight years, all of which led me to become the professional that I am today.
You never know. But you can count on this: everything you are doing – no matter how you feel about it – is strengthening you for something more.
“You are what you want to become.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh