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It’s OK to Quit (Your Job)

Is your current job compromising your happiness? Before you jump ship, consider these tips on when to quit your job. [TWEET]

In a 2014 Gallup poll, 17.5 percent of employees surveyed were "actively disengaged" and 51 percent were "not engaged" at work. Those numbers imply there's a lot of unhappy people out there. The most engaged group surveyed, coming in at 38.4 percent, were managers, officers, and executives, with millennials being the least engaged at 28.9 percent.

You have the right to be happy at work and in life in general. Why would you want it to be any other way? If you are not happy and find you are miserable most of the time at work, then take some time to evaluate your work environment to identify what it is that's making you so unhappy. Is it the people you work with? The culture? Are you sitting at a desk for too many hours of the day? Do you prefer to be interacting with people more? Would a different workgroup, manager, or position be better for you within the same organization? Or are you simply not cut out for the corporate environment anymore? After you identify what's making you so miserable, decide if there are actions you can take to make work more enjoyable. If not, then it might be time to consider quitting your job.

If you need help in pinpointing your current areas of discomfort, or you’re struggling with determining when to quit your job, consider the following tips to support you in your decision-making process.

Give yourself permission to explore your options, intuition, instincts, and so on.

If you have that little voice in your head—you know, the one that's telling you something's off and that you should be doing something else with your life—give yourself permission and the space to listen to it. Explore your options, daydream, see what ideas come to you, and make a game plan to make the right changes in your life if that's what you decide is best for you.

Know it's OK to disappoint others.

You're in the driver's seat of your life, my friend. No one else knows what's best for you but you—not your parents, your grandparents, your spouse, your best friend, or your mentor. If you make a choice to please others before you please yourself when it comes to your choices regarding work, you may grow to resent those people in the long run. Also, you're the one that has to get yourself through each day, and no one else can or will do it for you, even if they think they can. If you know that your choice of quitting your job is the best choice for you, and trust that in the long run, others will see it too.

Along those same lines, our hold out for pulling the plug on our current position often has to do with our loyalty to the people with whom we work. Though this might seem like a noble action, if your work is impacting your quality of life, you're not doing anyone any favors by staying put. This may be a sign of when to quit your job. As far as your manager and coworkers go, you can't please everyone, and people might be disappointed or sad to see you leave. The best managers and leaders, however, will want the best for their employees and will understand that you need to do what's best for you.

Hire a career coach to help you identify what's right for you.

I've worked with a personal coach off and on throughout my career, and it has been worth every penny spent. Whether I was struggling with a challenging manager, dealing with health and work, or trying to make a decision as far as my career path and position, my coach was the go-to individual to help me sort everything out from an unbiased perspective.

When you're interviewing coaches (you can do an online search for career coaches or personal coaches in your area, or ask around for a reference), you'll want to hire the one that will help you walk your way into your own answers vs. telling you what you should or should not be doing. No one else knows what's best for you but you (I'll say that more than once), but a savvy coach will be able to help you tap into and explore what feels right to you without "telling" you what they think it is and if it's quitting your job. You can read some additional tips on hiring a career coach in the Wall Street Journal article, How to Find a Career Coach.

It's OK if Corporate isn't for you.

The corporate environment isn't for everyone. There, now it's out in the open. Based on a 2015 Small Business Profile report issued by the Small Business Administration, there were 22.7M small businesses without employees in the United States, so that's a lot of individuals who have chosen a non-traditional career path. I, for example, had a great job, and was appreciated and respected by my coworkers and manager. At the end of the day, though, I had that little voice, and I knew it was time for me to make the decision to leave the corporate environment, at least for the time being. Choosing to leave was the best decision I could have made for myself at the time, and it's OK for you to make that choice for when to quit your job, too, if you know it's the right one for you.

Have a game plan if you choose to leave.

After some soul searching, if you do decide it's time to leave your current environment, create a game plan to quit, so you're not stressing about money and paying your bills for the foreseeable future. Whether it's looking for another job elsewhere, or saving up to start your own company, or landing a consulting gig so you can be your own boss, having a game plan in place will support the transition from your current job to whatever your next step is after quitting your job.

Take responsibility.

Only you can make the choices and changes to improve your current environment. Take responsibility for your current circumstances and take responsibility to change them if you feel you need to. It doesn't do any good to blame your unhappiness on anyone or anything outside of you espwcially when deciding when to quit your job.

Though employers can take steps to support employee engagement and improve morale, it's up to employees to take action to improve their lives, including the action it takes to improve their happiness with their careers. As stated in the Fast Company article, Why Happy Employees Are 12% More Productive, “research suggests there are simple ways employees can boost their own happiness, like helping out co-workers, meditating for at least two minutes every day, and reflecting on three things to be grateful for at work.” For you, it might mean turning in your two-weeks notice for a new job or saving up enough money to leave the corporate environment and start doing what you love to do or have always wanted to do. It's up to you to take responsibility and ownership to do it.

Don't burn bridges.

If and when you do decide to leave your job, do so as gracefully as possible as not to burn bridges if you can help it. It's a small world, and people remember those who handle things in a respectful and appreciative manner.

I have held positions that I've loved, and I've held positions that weren't my favorite. I can tell you that it was much easier to be productive and enjoy life when I enjoyed the job I held. I was fortunate that it was relatively early in my career that I came to appreciate the notion that I had choices and that what society and others thought should make me happy might not be accurate for me.

It can be interesting to go against the grain, I know. It can also be tough to admit you're not happy when you have a good paying job (or a job at all depending on the current economy), food on the table, and a roof over your head. Heck, you might even like your co-workers. But something still might not feel right to you. It might take you some time, but eventually, you know you need to listen to that little voice that's telling you that you need to make some changes in your life, and it might need to start with your job and career choice. If that means quitting your job, current position, or current workgroup, it's OK for you to make the plans to do so. It's OK for you to make choices that will bring fulfillment to your work and life, and the fact is, you're the only one that can choose do it for yourself.    

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!