How do you know if you should quit your job? By considering these issues before you resign yourself to looking for new work (though I personally think quitting is exciting, because it offers so many new opportunities!).
Before the tips, a quip:
“I’m not after fame and success and fortune and power. It’s mostly [that I want] to have a good job and have good friends; that’s the good stuff in life.” ~ Drew Barrymore.
She’s right: a good job and good friends are key to the good life! If you’re unhappy at work, you’ll be unhappy at home. And if you’re unhappy at home, everyone suffers. That’s why knowing if you should quit your job is so important – but you can’t just resign from work without considering a few things, first.
Have you heard of Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich? It’s an excellent career resource, and can help you figure out how to manage your career effectively and strategically.
Should You Quit Your Job? Before Handing in Your Resignation…
The days of quitting a job you don’t like and knowing you’ll find another job soon are gone. The reported unemployment numbers are higher than they’ve been in decades, and when you add the number of people who’re underemployed or have simply given up looking for work, the numbers are frightening.
Even so, you should quit your job if you’re miserable at work! The long-term emotional and physical damage that can result from feeling trapped in a job you hate may literally make you sick. While there are no easy answers to whether you should resign from work, here are a few questions to consider…
Take a step back, and realistically assess your situation
Try to distinguish between the realities of your job, and your perceptions and emotions about it. Is your boss just cranky sometimes, or is he (or she) truly being emotionally or verbally abusive? You may be earning less than you think you’re worth, but is your salary completely out of sync with similar jobs in other companies? It’s difficult working in a job for which you are clearly overqualified, but are there sufficient opportunities available to you right now to find a position for which you are better suited? Before quitting your job, you need to consider the consequences.
Talk with someone you trust – but not a coworker
If you’re having trouble separating the reality of your workplace from your feelings about your job, ask a trusted friend or family member to talk through it with you. Make sure you select a person whose guidance you trust. This is a very important conversation and your decision to quit your job can have profound consequences on your emotional well-being, your finances, and your career. The person you talk to about quitting your job should know you well and preferably have some workplace wisdom. You should expect them to give you honest feedback. At this point, you need wise counsel about quitting your job, not a cheerleader.
Consider the cost-benefit ratio of resigning from work
In today’s economy, deciding if you should quit your job is more complicated than ever! Before resigning from work, ask yourself these questions:
- How long do you think it will take to find another job? Be realistic.
- Since most companies don’t offer relocation packages these days, how likely are you to find the job you want in the area you live in now?
- Are you in a financial position to move at your own expense?
- If you leave your job, will you qualify for unemployment benefits if you need them?
- How much could you expect and for how long?
- If unemployment benefits are not an option, how long do you think you could survive on your savings or other cash you have on hand?
- If there are jobs currently available for the type of work you want to do, what are employers paying for them in the area where you live?
- If the prospects for finding another comparable job quickly in your area are slim, how willing are you to consider other types of jobs?
- What jobs might you be interested in and qualified for?
To answer each question, you need to research how many jobs are available, what they pay, and how you might compare with other candidates looking for the same time of work.
If you want to resign but can’t, read How to Quit Your Job When You’re Scared.
Identify your options for finding new work (before you resign!)
If your answer to the “Should I quit my job?” is YES, then it’s time to figure the best time to resign from work! Will you stick it out until you find another job? Will you draw an imaginary line in the sand, vowing to quit the minute your boss crosses it? Will you ask for a raise and resign if your request is denied? Will you give yourself a certain amount of time to see if things improve, and then leave if they don’t, whether you have another job or not?
Create an action plan and start looking for new work
Whether you decide to stay or to leave, you need a plan to move you from where you are to where you want to be. Sometimes simply knowing that you have a plan helps relieve some of the stress of quitting your job. Your action plan might include taking professional development classes or enrolling at the local community college to take some courses, either in your current profession or a new one. If your company has an HR department, talk with someone there about ways to improve your current situation. If you decide to look for a new job, start networking and researching your options.
If you want to quit your job but you’re not sure what you want to do next, take a few online career aptitude tests and read books on changing careers, such as Job Search Magic: Insider Secrets from America’s Career And Life Coach by Susan Britton Whitcomb. Consider taking a part-time job in a new field, even if it’s a volunteer position, to gain experience and contacts. If you’re not already active in social networking, this is the time to start. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have revolutionized the job search process. Create a new resume. Plan on having a different resume, or at least a modified one, for each position you apply for.
Before and after quitting, take care of yourself
Chances are that if you’ve been miserable at work for a long time now, you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, and may even be financially strapped and dealing with low-self esteem. You may not know which is harder, finding the strength to stay or the energy to do what you’ll need to do to move on. That’s why it’s critical for you to find ways to take care of yourself, regardless of what you decided to do about your situation.
Experiment with different stress management techniques to see which ones work best for you. Possibilities include yoga, guided imagery, aromatherapy, massage, prayer, meditation, exercise, and simple deep breathing exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. If the issues at your job are relationship-based, do some reading on dealing with difficult people, conflict resolution, or effective teambuilding. If you need professional help, consult your HR department and/or your insurance provider to see what options may be available to you.
For more tips for achieving your career goals, read Why Doing a Good Job Won’t Get You Ahead at Work.
If you have any thoughts or questions about whether you should quit your job – or even how to resign from work – please comment below.
Written by Sydney Tyler Thomas, a writer and small business owner living in Virginia. She is author of The Joy of Soulful Knitting: Reflections on the Art of the Craft. You can also visit Sydney at her blog, New Calling.
Sydney also wrote How to Stay Focused at Work When You Have Problems at Home, here on Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals.