How To Know It's Time To Go: When To Leave A Job

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People are increasingly leaving their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, 2.7 million people quit. That was 1.9 percent of the workforce, up from 1.8 percent the year before. The BLS says that the "quits rate can serve as a measure of workers' willingness or ability to leave jobs." In other words, as the economy has progressively improved, more people are waving their employers goodbye.Is it time that you did?

Whitney Johnson, co-founder of an investment firm with famed business professor and consultant Clayton Christensen, has shifted careers a number of times. In a Harvard Business Review blog she suggested thinking of a job as something your career hires to achieve both professional and personal satisfaction.

Functionally, your career puts food on the table, pays for your kids' college, and funds your retirement. Emotionally, consider the satisfaction of doing work you enjoy, or the prestige that comes from holding certain job titles. You need both. I've seen people let that emotional need eclipse reason and jump into a new career path without a safety net. I've also seen people get so worried about the money that they never make the leap, even when their safety net is strong.

Some people can afford to quit a job and support themselves as they transition to something else. Others can't. But with the improving job market, there are greater opportunities than in recent years to find another job, whether in your current field or doing something else. In other words, you don't have to be miserable if you hate your job.

The signs that it's time to look can be obvious, as Forbes notes. Any of the following should be a tip-off:
  • You lack passion for the job.
  • The company is sinking.
  • Stress, negativity, and unhappiness have become part of the job description.
  • You feel out of place.
  • Your performance is on a decline.
  • Duties and responsibilities keep climbing but pay doesn't.
  • You experience or witness abusive or illegal behavior.
Sit down and consider what it is you want from a job. Look at your options -- for example, whether things are so bad that you need to get out now or if you can pursue a job search on the side. Create a plan, including the steps you need to take and a timeline for getting into something that is a better fit. The sooner you get started, the sooner you might enjoy actually being happy in what you do for a living.
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