When Is It Time to Quit Your Job?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

It’s sometimes hard to know when to quit your job and when to stay. These tips may help make that decision a little simpler with five signs that you’re ready for a new opportunity, and what to do next.

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Quitting a job can feel like a big decision, and there are many reasons you might decide it’s the right time. You might be interested in exploring another industry or excited by a new challenge. Or you may feel unsatisfied with your current role. It may be time to quit your job when you’re no longer motivated to complete your daily tasks, feel overworked or burnt out, or want to move beyond your current position into a more advanced one. These are a few signs that it may be time to quit your job and get a better one that more effectively meets your needs. 

It’s not uncommon for someone to want to quit their job. In fact, more people are quitting their jobs in search of better opportunities than in years past. In 2021, at least one in four people quit their job, and experts have reason to believe that the number may only grow in the months ahead, according to Visier [1]. 

But how do you know when it’s time to go? And how do you go about quitting your job? Plan for the future while transitioning out of one job and into another with a few tips that can help you determine when it’s time to quit. 

5 signs that you're ready for a new opportunity

Here are a few signs to look for to confirm that it’s time to move on to a new opportunity:

1. You want room to grow.

Got the feeling like you’ve hit the ceiling with your current company? Then it might be time to seek out a new job that allows for more mobility and promotional opportunities. When you feel like you’ve exhausted your skills and talents in one position, this is your time to move forward. 

Beyond the inability to move up in a company, lack of growth potential might also look like a lack of opportunities to build your skills. If your company doesn’t encourage expanding your skills as an employee, consider looking for an employer that will allow you to attend conferences, gain certifications, and expand your education in a way that is beneficial to both you and your employer. 

2. You’re experiencing problems with a supervisor or boss.

If there’s a supervisor or boss that you butt heads with, that’s likely going to affect your day-to-day duties. 

 This will look different based on the situation, but take it as a warning sign if you have a boss who is disrespectful, unavailable when you need assistance, critical of your performance but offers no guidance, micromanages too much, or simply doesn’t show appreciation for your hard work. 

It’s even harder when problems with your superior aren’t a result of anything you’ve done but rather a personality difference. This is tricky because you can’t change someone's personality. And in this case, there’s a good chance that moving on is your best bet. 

3. You feel undervalued.

There are few things worse than feeling like your hard work doesn’t mean very much. This doesn’t mean that you need a gold star at the end of every workday, but it does mean a little recognition goes a long way. It’s motivating when you feel like your work makes a difference, and many people seek that feeling of value or self-worth in their profession. 

Some examples where you might feel undervalued could be regarding pay (you don’t feel like you earn your worth), lack of appreciation (you rarely get verbal affirmation that you’re doing a good job), or overt criticism (instead of constructive criticism, you often receive harsh or negative criticism). 

Talk directly to your boss if you’re feeling undervalued. If your feelings are validated, consider putting in a resignation letter. It may open the door for change, either within your organization or in a new one. 

4. You feel unmotivated.

If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to go to work every day or be productive once you arrive, it could be time to move on. Some reasons motivation may be lacking could be an inability to connect with your co-workers, exhaustion, or a work-life imbalance. If you’re struggling with motivation on a regular basis, it can be a sign that your work schedule is too rigorous or the company simply isn’t the right fit for you. And sometimes it’s not necessarily one thing contributing to a lack of motivation but rather a series of factors that make it hard to focus and put in the time and effort to complete your daily tasks. 

5. You notice a high turnover rate.

In some cases, high turnover rate is an indicator of the company’s health and can be a sign that something is amiss internally. When you see people coming and going, it could be an indication that quitting this job is your best option. 

High turnover rate may also signify that the company culture is not as it should be. Or maybe the company is heading for some hard times and employees are simply being pushed past capacity, which leads to feelings of stress and job dissatisfaction. Whatever the reason, take high turnover rate as a red flag.  

Know what to do before quitting

If you relate to any of these signs that it’s time to quit your job, you may want to try a few things before making the firm decision to leave. For example, when it comes to motivation, or problems with your supervisor, is there something you can do to improve? 

The American Management Association suggests that employees should first ask themselves what they can do to improve the situation before instantly blaming their boss for their work problems [2]. Focus on yourself. What can you change to improve the relationship? All you can control is your own actions, reactions, and feelings in this scenario. 

Try to take an objective stance and analyze the dynamics of the relationship and your overall place in the company. See if you can pinpoint what’s contributing to the conflict with your boss or lack of motivation. If you’re still struggling or still dealing with other factors like lack of growth potential, reach out and have a conversation with your company. Consider your ideal position and what that looks like for you. 

Talk with your supervisor. 

Make an appointment to talk with your supervisor in person. Avoid emails if you can. Outline your talking points before the meeting. Depending on your reasons for wanting to quit, here are some questions you might ask: 

  • What are my opportunities for growth in this position? 

  • Are there other jobs opening up that I could be considered for? 

  • Are there remote or work-from-home options? Or is there any flexibility in your schedule?

  • Is there any way for me to improve in my current role?

  • What resources can you offer me to improve in my role if needed? 

When you ask directly the issues that are leading you to question your job, you can either confirm or rethink your decision. It may really help in the decision-making process to have a one-on-one meeting.

Identify your ideal job.

What do you want in a new job? Write it out, describe it. Put it on paper and compare these characteristics to your current job. Are there some aspects of your job that you like? If you’re seeking out a higher-paying job or a position of seniority, draft a plan of how you’ll get there. Do your research to find out what you’ll need to achieve this dream job. 

If you need some inspiration or just want more information on what’s available, try to find several live job listings in your area or industry that look appealing or appropriate for you. Take these job descriptions and weave them into the details of your ideal role. 

Get your resume in order.

Dust off that resume and make sure it’s updated with your most recent work history, portfolio, and any new skills you’ve gained at your current job. List any conferences you’ve attended, courses, training, and other educational opportunities since you’ve last applied for a job. You’ll want references from your most recent employer, but wait until that decision has been made and your employer is notified before listing their contact information. 

Consider having your resume reviewed by a professional or take a course on resume writing to enhance your opportunity to land your next job. The goal here is to be ready to apply so that if and when you quit your job, you’re on your way to a better opportunity. 

Save money.

If you decide to quit before solidifying another job, reduce your expenses and save for a little while. The job hunt could take some time. When you decide to quit your job, try to use those last paychecks as savings so that you can have some reserves to live on during the application process. Even if you have another job lined up, it can take a few weeks or months before you’ll see a new paycheck rolling in. Set yourself up for success now by saving for later. 

Quit with professionalism. 

Want to know how to quit your job on good terms? Give ample notice, be respectful, and maintain positivity throughout the process. 

Keep things peaceful, don’t burn your bridges. 

Remember, you’ll be listing your current employer on resumes for years to come. They can be your ticket to your ideal job, but if you want that gleaming reference, you’ll need to keep things professional and positive. Avoid being disrespectful or unprofessional when quitting your job. 

Give two weeks' notice. 

It’s typical etiquette to offer your employers two weeks' notice before quitting your job. Giving your boss ample time to find and train someone to take your place shows a level of respect and understanding. It also gives you time to get things in order as you move ahead.

Tell your boss first.

Before any kind of formal notification, schedule a time to sit down and tell your boss of your decision to quit. You can offer a few reasons why, or not. You aren’t obligated to tell your boss your reason for quitting, but if you can, thank them for the work opportunity at the company when closing up your conversation. As always, gratitude goes a long way. 

Maintain a positive attitude. 

No matter how you feel toward your company or boss when quitting, show appreciation for your time there. This does not mean you have to go over the top or be disingenuous. It just means that you should focus on the good things that this job has brought you and maintain an attitude of positivity throughout the process. 

Next steps

Get ready for the next phase of your career journey by earning a Professional Certificate from an industry leader like Google, Meta, IBM, or Salesforce. Build the skills companies are hiring for in data analytics, social media marketing, cybersecurity, project management, sales development, user experience (UX) design, or IT support, all at your own pace.

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Article sources

1. Visier. “Four Things We Learned About the Resignation Wave–and What to Do Next, https://www.visier.com/blog/trends/four-things-we-learned-about-the-resignation-wave-and-what-to-do-next/.” Accessed February 24, 2022.

2. American Management Association. “Articles/a-Nine-Step-Cure-for-Tough-Boss-Syndrome, https://www.amanet.org/articles/articlesa-nine-step-cure-for-tough-boss-syndrome/." Accessed February 25, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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