Quitting a job is tough. Sometimes, it's harder to quit a job than it is to seek a new one. You hesitate to make the move because you are asking yourself: How will the firm get along with out me? Will I have enough time to train my replacement? They just gave me a raise. Someone is going to get mad at me. I know what I have and don't know what I'll get into." And other career blocking rationalizations.
On the other hand, there may be something tickling your gut. Something that says, "Maybe it's time to leave." Or, "Frankly, I can't stand this place anymore." Something subtle like that. Sometimes, you just don't know it's time to leave and wake up one morning either in a career crisis or in a firm that just sunk. Leaving your job takes careful consideration but if you are on the fence or not truly facing reality, it may be time to explore reasons that just might open your eyes to "Finding Career Paradise" and loving every minute of your job. What a concept.
It must be time to quit your job when.....
1. You cry in the shower every morning. In short, you dread going to work. Listen to what your feelings are telling you. Ask yourself: Why am I making myself so miserable when there is an easy answer to solve my problem? Martyrs are not heroes. You deserve better.
2, There are secretive meetings held in the firm; lots of partner emergency meetings; lots of closed doors. Be on guard. The firm may be experiencing financial difficulties, about to merge, lose a practice area or major client and more. While the rumor mill may be running amok, look for signs that things are about to change - and maybe not for the better.
3. Your relationship with your boss is not what it should be: The number one reason people leave their jobs is not money. It's poor management. If you are at odds with your boss, chances are things may get worse. If you firmly believe it is beyond recovery, ask yourself why you allow yourself such misery.
4. You are doing routine and repetitious work. There is no challenge nor defined career path: Intelligent people burn out when doing routine and repetitious work. Nothing stimulates the brain. Routine and repetitious work leads to boredom and that leads to disinterest in your job. When there is no challenge, there is no enthusiasm. No way up? It's time to find a more challenging and rewarding role.
5. You have behaved in ways that are considered improper at work: If your efforts to resolve your mistakes are not taking hold, it's probably time to move on with the resolve it will never happen again. It is hard to regain confidence from the Firm once you have burned your bridges. Remember the old adage: Don't burn any bridges on the way up. You may need them on the way down.
6. The passion is gone: Remember the excitement you felt when you first started your job? You were full of enthusiasm, hope, motivation and pride. Is the same feeling still there? Of course, things do mellow out as you go along in your job. However, if your sense of glee is gone, it's probably time for you to go.
7. The Firm has downsized, cut budgets, departments, laid off key employees. It has upped your billable hourly requirement and even has a hold on purchasing office supplies, software, computers and put a quash on important previous perks such as professional development and training. These are signs the Firm may be struggling. Leave now before the ship sinks.
8. Your stress level is so high, you are suffering physically or mentally. Sure, there's some stress involved with every job. However, if your health is starting to go, it's time for you to go. No job is worth it. Repeat: No job is worth it.
9. You just don't like the people you work with: You can't find common ground with your co-workers, supervisors or subordinates. Really, now. Would you plunge headlong into a hornet's nest just to find the honey? Gee, I hope not.
10. You keep dreaming of what it would be like if only...... For heaven's sake. go out and get the "if only" part of the dream. We all go around just once. Think it through. How do you want to go out? Is it like this? Or is it in your ideal job. Hmmm.....
11, Your work performance is suffering: Unhappy people do not produce excellent work product. They just don't. Performance lacking? Leave now before it catches up to you and you are asked to leave.
12. Your life situation has changed: Sometimes life comes along and just gets in the way of your job. Maybe you got married, had a baby, are taking care of a loved one, got your degree, or other life changing event. Now, you do not have enough salary or benefits to cover the lifestyle change. After checking with your Firm to rectify the situation and finding there is no resolution, find a role that meets your needs.
13. You are at odds with the Firm's culture: It happens. Perhaps your Firm is egalitarian and you believe in assigned parking spots for salaried employees. Your Firm conducts employee satisfaction surveys and you think these are a waste of time. The Firm does not invite you to Firm events and you believe everyone should be able to go. No matter where the clash is, a lack of congruence with the corporate culture will destroy your attitude at work. Leave quickly once you identify the culture clash. The situation will not improve and sticking around may make you hate work.
14. You no longer have satisfactory work-life balance. You go on vacation and check your email every hour. You are called by the Firm late at night. You dread coming back from vacation to find chaos. You work so much overtime that you could buy the mansion-in-the-sky but don't have the time to go house hunting. Your children barely know who you are. They are asking Daddy: "What did you say Mommy looks like again?" Work-life balance is not a fad nor a trend. It's real and it's healthy. Maybe you have the flip side occurring and you are spending more time with your family than at work. In any event, it's time to move on.
15. Your skills are not tapped nor do you have a chance to update them. Perhaps the Firm is behind in technology. That hurts your chances of getting a new position as the next Firm is going to want a candidate whose skills are up-to-date. Perhaps management is not acknowledging that you have more to offer. Maybe you are no longer getting plum assignments or asked to important meetings. You'll get into a chicken-and-the egg vicious circle. Leave now before you are not marketable.
16. Your responsibilities have increased but not your compensation: Sometimes there is a good reason for this. However, is the Firm taking advantage of you? If you can't get more money, get a better title. You can take that with you when you go.
17. You are experiencing bullying, harassment, discrimination or any other egregious behavior. Report it and leave now.
Take a good, long look at your situation and be realistic. Do you like your job but things cannot be fixed? This is a candidate's market. That means there are more jobs than there are candidates and that puts the odds in your favor of getting a new position that actually fits. A new employer means new opportunities, new challenges, maybe more money, better lifestyle and a fresh new start.
Staying in a bad situation can break your spirit and kill your soul if you stay in it for too long. Have a plan. Don't walk off the job until you have another one unless your situation is unbearable. And, who needs that? Consider your options and decide what is best for you in designing your ideal job. Consider where you will compromise. Before you jump ship, carefully weigh the pros and the cons.
And finally, don't let emotions get in the way of your critical decision. Look at it from a business and career building perspective. The most important thing to consider: Is there a compelling financial, career path or emotional return on investment for such a move? If so, don't let inertia hurt your chances of career fulfillment. Do the right thing. It's an investment in yourself.
Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top staffing organization in California. She is also the President of the Organization of Legal Professionals and the Paralegal Knowledge Institute. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and an Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator in an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: firstname.lastname@example.org.