Quitters never win – or maybe they do?
I’ve quit a job without a full two-weeks notice exactly once in my life, and no, it wasn’t the minimum wage cashier position I had at Taco Bell the summer before I went to college. It was a coveted nonprofit job that I had beat out a dozen candidates to secure. It was a position where I was helping people every day and really making a difference in my community.
And it was a job that caused me endless stress, self-doubt, and made me question whether or not I was making the right choice to stay.
There are hundreds of famous quotes surrounding the topic of quitting – most of which hold the same sentiment. It’s never okay to quit. Quitters don’t win. You can only succeed if you stick it out and suffer through the hard times.
I think those ideas are outdated. I would argue that, sometimes, quitting is the best choice you can make for yourself. But even as someone who has felt the relief of being able to walk away from a bad work environment, it wasn’t an easy choice to make.
So, when should you quit your job?
Deciding whether or not to quit your job is no easy task and it’s not a decision to be made lightly. It can be a tough call to make but luckily, it’s not one you have to make on your own.
Maybe you’re like I was and you’re looking for a sign that it’s okay to throw in the towel on a bad job. Or maybe you’re just bored and wondering if that’s reason enough to start looking for something new. Whatever your reason, you're probably not alone.
We asked professionals from different industries to tell us when it’s time to quit your job and what signs to look out for when deciding whether or not to walk. Here’s what they had to say:
Quit your job if your gut is telling you it’s time to leave
“I think if you’re already asking yourself if you should quit your job, you absolutely should. The second you say no and shut the door on something that is no longer serving you, opportunities begin to come to you from all over.
“Trust what your gut is telling you. No one should have the pit in your stomach feeling about work. That is your telltale sign that it's time to do something different. The Sunday scaries, although popular on Instagram stories, aren't necessarily a given and don't have to be a part of your reality. When you're in a work environment that's the right fit for you, you won't dread Mondays.”
– Sarah Anderson, Bold Socks
Quit your job if there’s no room to grow at your current company
“Ideally, work is a place to learn and grow in a position and to prepare for the next one. If you find yourself in a bad job or a toxic work environment, chances are role models and mentors are in short supply, or they are ill-equipped.
“Without good role models, and leaders who lead by example, employees don’t experience how things should be at work. Staying too long in a workplace like this can stifle your development and can limit one’s ability to compete with others on a level playing field when seeking future opportunities. So, it’s important to consider this dynamic and factor it into any decision to leave a job and move on to the next.”
– Dory Wilson, Your Office Mom
|Tip: Read more about the importance of career growth|
Quit your job if you spot the early signs of job insecurity
“It’s usually easier to tell that your job is in jeopardy during a merger/acquisition situation. For instance, if you work in corporate finance and your firm is acquired by a massive conglomerate that already has a huge corporate finance group, odds are good you need to start looking!
“That’s not the only sign of trouble! If a new leader comes in and starts replacing her direct reports with folks she worked with before, that is also a good sign that you want to get your feelers out and your network activated.
“Start your search while you’re employed if you can, but if it gets too bad, leave. You won’t be energetically attractive for a new job if you’re depressed and beaten down during the interview.”
– Elene Cafasso, Enerpace Executive Coaching
|Tip: Brush up on the right way to network on LinkedIn.|
Quit your job if you have a toxic manager or work environment
“Like many, I too have worked in a toxic workplace. I remember the looming feeling of dread every Sunday night, and feeling lonely/angry/sad/terrified throughout every single day.
“It can be hard to spot a toxic manager or work environment right away, but once you learn the signs, it’s possible to unsee. What does toxic leadership look like?
“It’s leadership that fails to communicate to employees what’s going on in the company. It’s employee milestones, such as work anniversaries and life events, being ignored. It’s when managers regularly speak negatively about their employees to other employees. It’s when employees are expected to work for free or ‘volunteer’ their time, but aren’t given any leeway with taking time off when they need it.
“I remember feeling stuck. I was worried that if I left, I’d look like a job hopper, I’d be letting my co-workers down, and I’d never really find a job I liked anyway. At my absolute lowest, the best advice I received was, “No job is worth your health.” And it’s true, no job is worth your health.”
– Skye Mercer, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CDMS, Skye HR Consulting
|Tip: Learn how to spot a hostile work environment|
Quit your job when you have more reasons to leave than you do to stick around
“It’s the oldest trick in the book because it works. Get yourself a legal pad, draw your line down the middle lengthwise, and at the top, title it, ‘To Quit or Stay?’ On the left list your pros, and on the right list your cons. When you get finished and your brain has no more reasons that you can possibly think of, look that list dead in the face, and do what your gut was telling you to do all along!
“Typically we make the pros and cons list as a way for our brains to reason with our gut. But the two likely won’t be in unison if you had to make the dang list in the first place! The list is truly designed to convince your gut into doing something easier, more rational, safer, etc.
“My other piece of advice? Don’t leave a company, leave its management. Quit your job if you found a leadership upgrade. That’s the truest advice I’ll ever give anyone. Money isn’t worth it to be with a deceitful leader. Opportunity sounds good, but works out poorly under selfish management. Follow great leadership, plain and simple!”
– Nick Glassett, Origin Leadership
Quit your job if the company values and mission don’t match your own
“If you’re really uncomfortable at work because you don’t believe in the company’s mission anymore, it might be worth the cost of switching jobs. Ideally, you should believe in the company you work for and its mission. If that isn’t the case, talk to your supervisor about the problem and see if there’s anything they can do to help, like offering you a more flexible work schedule or changing your role to one that better fits your career prospects. When it comes to a decision this big, it's worth a try to ask—the worst they can say is no!”
– Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations
Quit your job if you’re not satisfied with your current situation
“The best time to quit your job is when you are experiencing the best of times and it still does not bring you satisfaction or fulfillment. Most people quit when a job is going through a rough patch or after a particularly problematic time. This is the worst time to quit because typically emotions are high, feelings are hurt, and rationale has exited the equation.
“However if and when someone is enjoying the best of what the job has to offer and they still do not enjoy what they are doing, it is a clear sign that it is time to exit the position.”
– Quinten Lovejoy, Crane Agency
|Tip: Ready to quit? Learn how to write a resignation letter.|
Quit your job if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of
“I knew it was time for me to quit my job after more than two decades of employment at my university job. I had the career experience and time in service when my supervisor during my performance review 'stated' that my position as editor was no longer required and that I was being moved to a role as a second administrative assistant.
“I had been hired as an editor due to my experience as a published author and freelance writer to copy edit scholarly manuscripts and research and write business cases that were taught in classes at the school. With a master's degree, experience as a part time instructor at the college/university setting, a past administrator with my own administrative assistant, this was not a position I'd ever consider or accept in my own job search.
“The thing that sealed the deal for me was that the supervisor that was deciding my fate refused to open the floor to discussion or allow me to include my thoughts or input, they just thought I’d go along with it!
“I realized after that meeting that there was something better I could be doing and that I could work for a company that truly understood my experience and value.”
– Carol Gee, Author
Quit your job if you’re underpaid (and your boss doesn’t care)
“There are few people out there who don’t wish they were paid more for their work. But there’s a difference in wanting more pay and knowing you deserve more pay.
“While money isn’t the only reason to stay at a job, your employer refusing to pay you the going market rate may be a reason to start looking elsewhere. Sometimes offers from competitive businesses in the same area might push your current employer to counter offer and provide the increase you’ve been looking for. But, if your employer simply refuses to acknowledge what your skills, education and qualifications should be compensated, it’s time to seek greener pastures.”
– Robin Schwartz, Find A Therapist
|Tip: Think you’re underpaid? Learn how to ask for a raise.|
Quit your job if it’s not meeting your expectations
“Generally, when people accept employment, they have great expectations: an interesting job, the opportunity for personal growth and achievement, and career advancement in exchange for good work and loyal service. However, organizations often over-promise and under-deliver; and, on occasion, the selection process simply goes awry and a new-hire turns out to be a poor fit.
“Under these circumstances, an employee may have limited potential in a particular organization; but if that fact is not recognized, a hard-working employee may become extremely frustrated as other colleagues receive the challenging assignments, raises and promotions. Thus, ambitious workers who seemingly cannot get ahead may ultimately sabotage their own careers.
“Give your employer a fair shake. Meet with your manager and tell them what’s not working for you and how things can improve. If changes are possible, create and execute a plan with input from the boss. If change isn’t possible, it’s probably time to find a new job.
“Few people are able to do their best work when they are frustrated or unhappy with their career, so a bad situation will often get worse if it is not addressed.”
– Timothy Wiedman, D.B.A., Doane University
Quit your job if good ideas are being ignored
“One clear sign of a toxic environment is when you’re not allowed to talk about fresh ideas or give suggestions to improve something, just because of your position or experience. In a healthy office culture, even the newest employee has the right to put new ideas on the table, and there is a discussion about whether it's feasible or not.
“If your company is the sort of place where you hesitate before sharing any ideas because you know they’ll get shot down, you might want to start your job search.”
– Ketan Pande, GoodVitae
Tip: Do you have good ideas? Join our network of expert contributors like the ones you've seen in this article and share your expertise with 1 million readers.
Quit your job if you’re bored
“When you find yourself browsing social media or listening to podcasts during the work day, it's possible you’re bored with your work. Once boredom sets in it usually only gets worse.
“Losing focus on the task at hand is another subtle sign that your job is no longer bringing you joy. If you find yourself being pulled away from your desk by office chatter or you’re even daydreaming about a project at home pay attention, these are clues that something is missing in your work experience.”
– Millette Jones, Cast Digital Marketing
|Tip: Try avoiding this situation entirely and learn how to decline a job offer if the job doesn't align with your needs.|
Quitting your job isn’t something to be taken lightly...
But it’s also something you shouldn’t be ashamed of. Ultimately, there are any number of reasons to quit your job and no reason is more legitimate than another.
If you’ve had the passing thought that the grass might be greener on the other side, don’t just ignore it. We spend most of our lives with the people we work with in the office – you don’t have to waste your life in a job that doesn’t make you happy.
Has this article inspired you to start a job search? Read more about how to write a resume that will make hiring managers call you back.