Regardless of the job role, each work environment comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. You can feel burdened by the never-ending deadlines or frustrated because your co-workers are not being as cooperative as you expect them to be.
There are plenty of reasons that can lead you to ask yourself this question: should I give my current employer a second chance, or should I quit the job altogether in pursuit of a better quality of life? As it is a crucial career choice, many professionals delay until the very last moment to turn in their resignation letter, a decision which can leave them at a disadvantage of being unprepared for what comes next.
But how does one decide when is the right time to quit? The answer is to recognize the warning signs and look out for them. In this guide, we will go through some of the red flags that signal you should start writing your resignation letter.
Quit Your Job When:
You Are Constantly Unhappy
Life is a wheel that keeps on turning. As such, there will be days when you are at the bottom of the wheel. Having bad days at work is unavoidable, but when the misery is perpetual and it seems like there is no escape, then it is time to alter your career path.
Being unhappy with work has many manifestations; you may have lost the initial passion you started the role with and now feel unmotivated to go to the office in the morning, your boredom eating at you as you sit at your desk and absentmindedly complete tasks.
You may feel anxious thinking about your responsibilities or find no satisfaction in successfully fulfilling them. You may glance at the clock every other minute, utterly impatient for the day to end.
But even when your hours are up, a negative situation at work can get under your skin and come home with you at the end of the day. In more extreme cases, sustained dissatisfaction with work can take a toll on your physical and mental health.
You lose sleep or the appetite to eat. You experience mood swings and take out your frustration on your loved ones. You isolate yourself the moment your feet cross the threshold of your home.
The moment your job becomes detrimental to your quality of life, then it is time to conduct job searches for other opportunities. You can land another job with the body you have, but you cannot land a new body holding on to a job that brings you hardship in the first place.
Take some time to evaluate whether your discomfort and/or unhappiness comes from having to tackle unfamiliar tasks or dealing with new challenges, in which case it will subside given time and should not be a basis for terminating your employment.
There is No Room for Career Development
If you can accomplish all the tasks assigned to you with your eyes closed, it is a sign that you have grown too comfortable and confident in your current company and position.
Your job should always challenge you to do better and ask you to venture into unknown territories. Exposure to new, dynamic experiences will broaden your horizon and help enhance your skills, but what if that opportunity is not offered by your current employer?
The answer is simple: you reach a career plateau unwanted by any professional. One’s career should always have a clear direction—forward and up—and it is not a wise decision to stay in a position that limits growth potential. Below are some signs you have met a dead-end at your job.
Your Concerns Are Not Being Heard
The natural first step to take when you realize you are experiencing stagnation at work is to speak to the manager about taking on new roles and responsibilities in order to gain new talents as well as progress the ones you already have.
When these concerns are straight-up ignored or merely noted with no follow-through, it becomes evident that your career development is not in the interest of the people higher on the corporate ladder. Not only that, but it also shows that your voice is no longer heard, nor your opinions valued.
You should consider looking for other work environments that are both willing to address your point of view and come with opportunities for growth.
Receiving A Promotion Is Unlikely
Career growth can arrive in the form of a promotion coupled with a reasonable raise to compensate for the increased amount of responsibility placed on your shoulders. However, assess the company culture to predict whether this is an opportunity that will be present in the near future.
If getting promoted is a rare thing in your company, if the managers have all been in their position for five years or more without a bump in their salary or title, then chances are the doors are also not open for you. If you value personal growth and the company has a lack of opportunity for advancement, it is time to get out.
Be careful not to mistake the poor outlook for receiving a promotion with being passed over for one with logical reasons.
While it can be disappointing not to receive the promotion that you have been expecting, as long as your manager shares the factors that contributed to their decision making process and informs you of the areas of improvement, you can work on them and apply for the next round of promotions. You should not immediately quit your job after being let down once.
Your Work-Life Balance is Lacking
The overwork culture is dangerous—there can be no debate about this. Work-related stress and burnout have been cited to negatively impact the workforce’s mental health, as well as the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in the average worker. In Japan, there is even a term coined specifically for death due to overworking, karoshi. Finding the work-life balance can prove challenging for many professionals, but it is essential to achieve it in any type of work. Know the indications that you lack a work-life balance to prevent being stuck in a harmful culture.
Work is Everywhere
Have you ever felt like work is becoming the utmost priority over all other aspects of your life, including your personal wellbeing? You clock in overtime every other day, then you go home only to bring your work with you and pull an all-nighter to finish tasks—there are no clear boundaries between your job and personal life.
You never put down your phone while awake, whether it be at movie nights with your family or at social outings with your friends. The emails keep coming in on the weekends, on your days off, and even when you are taking a sick leave.
There are about ten different things you need to do at any given moment and the second you tick one task off your to-do list, another two show up in its place. You struggle with maintaining your interpersonal relationship and physical health.
The Perpetual Race with Deadlines
Though it may seem counterintuitive at first, the lack of work-life balance can result in chronic perfectionism and procrastination. This happens when you avoid completing tasks until the deadline is near in fear of failing in your attempt, obsessing over the smallest of details.
You may also feel incompetent, as though you are always behind and lacking quality in the work that you deliver. The constant pressure you put on yourself can lead to feelings of irritability and impatience, which in the long run can further dampen your productivity.
When your work-life balance is off, take some time to identify the root of the problem. Perhaps you do not prioritize your tasks properly, or you easily lose concentration when doing work. Perhaps you are better suited for a job with flexible hours rather than the strict 9-to-5 routine.
If this is why you find it difficult to take a break from your responsibilities, you can adapt productivity techniques such as the Eisenhower Matrix or check out productivity apps that help you maintain focus.
However, if it is the company culture that requires you to work non-stop and there is no way to improve the condition, draw the line when the lack of work-life balance becomes unacceptable.
The Work Environment is Unhealthy, or Even Toxic
The tricky part about accepting a position and signing your name under the dotted line of a contract is you never know how the work environment is like until you have spent time amongst your co-workers and under the direction of your supervisors.
Some people are unlucky and land an ideal job with a narcissistic or unsupportive or incompetent boss—some might be ill-fated enough to work with one who is a combination of all three traits. Surveys have shown that people walk out on bosses more than they walk out on jobs. Others struggle to build any rapport with their co-workers—there are just some people you cannot get along with no matter how much you try.
There are some telltale signs that your work environment is a place you want to run away from as soon as possible.
The Constructive Criticism is Not Constructive
Any new position comes with a learning curve, and it will take you some time to settle into your new role. A conducive work environment will be filled with people willing to guide you through this period, show you the ropes by pointing out errors when you make them and letting you know how to avoid repeating them in the future. They may also offer you some constructive criticism.
Constructive criticism gives specific recommendations on how to make improvements in your work performance, they are not meant to mock or ridicule your ability. When the criticism veers into the territory of bullying or even verbal abuse, it becomes harmful to both your productivity and mental health.
Your boss and co-workers can make your life miserable simply because they can and want to, and when your attempts at establishing a better relationship with a healthy means of communication fail, pack up your desk and find other pursuits. There is little value in working under poor leaders or among people who do not support your growth.
There are Exclusive Social Groups
What if you walk onto your floor and feel as though you have been transported back to high school? Making work friends and acquaintances is good when done right, since there are a lot of advantages from networking with other professionals.
However, having a group of co-workers who travel in packs and display clique-like behavior e.g. continuously chatting about topics unrelated to work or even other employees is a sign that the work environment is toxic.
It gets worse when members of the executive management team are part of these cliques. Valuable projects might be allocated based on favoritism and not talent, certain allowances made for some employees and not others, resulting in unfair working practices and conditions.
There is minimal room for growth in this type of work environment, and when it is not within your power to change the situation, try finding other opportunities that will suit your goals better.
You are Extremely Undervalued
Undervalued is not synonymous with underpaid, although they both stem from the same problem of the lack of appreciation for the work you have done. It is discouraging when no one values your ongoing work or recognizes the milestones you have achieved in the past.
Worse, your supervisor or other co-workers repeatedly take credit for your accomplishments. When this happens, earning a promotion becomes a less likely prospect, and you may easily get overlooked when it comes to training and opportunities for career development.
Do periodical research into the amount of salary other companies are offering for a job role similar to yours to avoid being underpaid. If your list of responsibilities keeps on increasing without compensation or the possibility of discussing it, this may also be a sign of your current company underpaying you. While work should not be all about money, why settle for a position where your pay is not worth the effort?
If not addressed, working in a demotivating environment can end up smothering the passion you have for pursuing your career path. Bring up your concerns about being undervalued or underpaid to your supervisors.
Should they continue to fall on deaf ears, and you are not given the support and recognition you deserve, start looking elsewhere for a company that fosters a culture where your contributions will not go unnoticed.
The Future of Your Employment is Unknown
Always plan for the future—but what if you are not sure that a future exists for you in this current company? What if there are signs that your job is not a sustainable prospect in the long-term? In which situations should you kick-start your job search process?
The End of Your Contract Nears
When you sign with a company, you often sign a contract agreeing to work with them for a certain number of years. Now the time is up soon, and they have not invited you to talk about extending your contract.
This can lead to feelings of uncertainty about whether they are keeping you on board, but the questions you pose to your manager regarding the matter only earned you vague answers. There is no harm in searching for alternatives in the meantime.
Who knows if you stumble upon a golden opportunity along the way? Instead of waiting for their decision not to rehire you, you can quit your job and begin a fresh adventure in a new position.
If your department co-workers start clearing their desks one by one then disappear, never to be seen again, you should be concerned as to what it means for you. To save yourself from the surprise of being handed a termination notice out of nowhere, have another job opportunity lined up.
Company Going Under
There are plenty of reasons why a company downsizes, but large-scale downsizing can be one sign that the company is not performing well financially. It is always good practice to keep updated with how your place of employment is doing in order to be able to prepare for the worst scenario.
In the case that business is failing and the future is looking particularly bleak, there is no need to go down in a sinking boat—that is the kind of loyalty that does not earn you points. Find another job and turn in your resignation letter before the water gets to you.
Inappropriate Conduct or Illegal Activities
Never compromise your ethics or agree to break the law for money. In a professional setting, following your supervisor’s order without raising any questions may give you the short-term benefit of keeping your job, but it can have long-term repercussions on your career.
You may be pressured to corners in order to save production costs, even when it means polluting the environment. You may also be asked to turn a blind eye when an accident happens at work due to poor standard operating procedures.
Some possibilities are worse than others—you may suspect the undertaking of legally or morally ambiguous activities within the company, even ones that may be illegal.
A healthy work environment would never ask you to do any of the things mentioned above. You can always report any unethical or suspicious behavior to your supervisor, but when they are a part of the problem and you do not have anywhere to go to, it is best to quit your job before the situation escalates.
You Have a Better Offer
Sometimes, the grass is simply greener on the other side. Though your current company has values that align with your personal beliefs and a healthy work environment, it is not uncommon for a professional to quit their job when a more exciting career development opportunity presents itself.
Having an outstanding performance at work coupled with excellent networking skills may just land your name under the radar of recruiters or headhunters, who then reach out to you with a proposal you cannot simply pass up. When the company offers you a higher starting salary, increased health and retirement benefits, and has better employee reviews than your current employer, it might be in your best interest to quit your job.
It does not always have to be the prospect of earning more money which lures you into resigning, though. There is a chance you find a position where you can put your abilities into better use and taking it will help you achieve professional fulfilment.
Maybe you are interested in the challenges the job role presented, and there are more opportunities for growth if you undertake these challenges. If in your job search you come across a position that sparks the idle passion inside you once again, why let it slide?
As a general rule of thumb, it is advisable to quit your job only when you have secured your next employment. When you are thinking of quitting because of an unconducive work environment or company culture, start your job search with a set of clear goals in mind and know exactly what you are looking for.
Before making any career choice, conduct thorough research on the position you are interested in and the company you will be working for to avoid having to go through the same process again in 6 months.
Be professional with your resignation and exit from the current company—you never know when the connections you have established will play to your advantage.
Most companies require two weeks’ notice when you resign, but it is safer to look in your contract for the exact notice period. Resigning well not only ensures you leave things on a pleasant note but also aids a smoother transition to your next job.