How To Tell When It Is Time To Quit

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Leaving a job, especially one that compensates well, is a very difficult decision for any executive. After investing what seems like endless time and energy into an organization’s success, it can be difficult to let go and pursue new opportunities. Sometimes there may not even be an obvious reason driving your departure, but you sense that it is time to part ways with your employer nonetheless. Below are a few indications that a change is in order.

Professional growth has become stagnant.

It may be time to seek new employment when your professional opportunities are severely limited or stall, despite your best efforts to ensure that you possess the requisite skills, experience, education, and characteristics for the next step in your career. Passed over for the promotion for a third time? Not reaching that elusive VP status? Receiving no feedback regarding your employment performance? Before concluding your employer is to blame, request candid advice from a person in the organization whom you trust (preferably senior to you) to determine whether you are objectively qualified and ready for the next step in your career and whether any impediments to further growth with your current employer are surmountable.

Boredom or resentment is creeping in from lack of new challenges.

Feeling bored at work? You are not alone. A 2005 Washington Post article posited that 55% of all U.S. employees are not engaged at work. And the amount of “work” you are actually performing has little to do with whether you feel bored or unchallenged. If your boredom expands beyond the natural cycles of activity within your business or industry, your current employment is probably not engaging your skill set. Feeling that your talents are underutilized is not healthy and can leave an employee feeling disconnected from the organization or even resentful of co-workers and management. If you have exhausted the search for ways to keep yourself occupied or challenged in your current employment (volunteering for new projects or seeking additional job-related training, for example), consider that you may not be feeling run-of-the-mill boredom, but that a career change is necessary. Is there a time that you can remember being happiest and feeling professionally fulfilled in your company or in any employment setting? Seek out that type of work and find your true calling, because it may not be where you are.

The company seems to be failing.

Sales have plummeted. Management is scrambling to evaluate personnel and productivity. Colleagues are departing around you. You are asked to shoulder more responsibilities without more pay, or even worse, you have been asked to take a pay cut. If you sense that the company is heading in the wrong direction, it may be time to jump ship. Transitioning from one job to another without a break in employment is always easier than rebuilding after the company has failed or you have been laid off. Most times, it is best to seek new opportunities ahead of a corporate catastrophe to maintain your own personal income stream and minimize any perception of your culpability in the company’s failing. Consider your exit strategy, however: even if you do not have a pre-negotiated employment agreement that might provide severance upon your departure in certain scenarios, you may be able to leverage a severance package if the company is in the midst of layoffs.