“Should I Quit My Job?” – 12 Reasons It Might Be Time

By Mike Simpson

Should I quit my job… it’s a question that enters every professional’s mind, usually more often than people would expect. After all, about 2.6 million people quit their jobs in June 2020 alone. And that was during a pandemic, where widespread unemployment was the norm.

However, just because you get an inkling to quit your job, that doesn’t always mean it’s a smart move. Everyone gets a little frustrated on occasion, but it usually passes. So, quitting your job on a whim isn’t typically a great idea.

Luckily, it is possible to figure out if quitting a job is the right choice. After all, there are plenty of times when that little voice in your head hounding you with “I want to quit my job” is actually trying to lead you in the right direction.

If you are trying to find an answer to the “should I quit my job” question, here’s what you need to consider.

Things to Consider

Usually, if you’re trying to figure out if or when to quit your job, there’s a bit of an internal debate. Some part of you may want to run screaming for the hills, while another part may worry about the financial insecurity that can come from walking away from a position.

Ultimately, you have to determine whether the reasons to quit a job outweigh the potential drawbacks. How can you work that out?

By looking at the pros and cons, of course.

Exactly what those will be depends on your unique situation. For example, if you’re genuinely miserable in your role, quitting may be an emotional relief. A ton of stress might seemingly evaporate, all because you decided to head out of the door for good.

Additionally, it gives you a chance to make searching for a new opportunity your “job,” so to speak. You can dedicate your full energy to the hunt, which may make it easier to manage.

However, quitting a job can introduce new sources of stress, most commonly financial ones. Unless you have a large emergency fund, you may not have enough cash to sustain you through long-term unemployment. That’s something you shouldn’t ignore.

You might be thinking, “Quitting my job isn’t a big deal financially. After all, I’ll get unemployment.” Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you probably won’t.

Unless you can prove that you quit for an incredibly good reason, like an unreasonably dangerous work environment, resigning makes you ineligible for unemployment. So, don’t assume you’ll get access to that money when you’re trying to determine if your answer to “Should I quit my job” is a “yes” or “no.”

How you envision quitting your job is something else you need to consider. Are you planning on giving two weeks’ notice, or were you thinking about just telling your boss to shove it and walk out the door, never to come back? With the former, you are offering a professional courtesy. With the latter, you’re risking your reputation, and, to put it simply, making people angry.

MIKE'S TIP: Leaving people in the lurch comes with consequences. For example, if you were hoping that your current manager or colleagues would act as references going forward, that may not be an option if you don’t give notice. Make sure you are comfortable with potentially burning bridges if your exit is going to be immediate because that’s probably what’s going to happen.

It’s also important to understand that the COVID-19 pandemic does make the situation a bit more complex. As of late July, the national unemployment rate was a shocking 11 percent. About 30 million people were unemployed. That’s staggering.

Why does that matter? Well, it means you’ll face more competition when you try to land a new opportunity. Unless quitting your job also means you’ll be completely exiting the workforce, with no immediate intent to return, you’re going to have to stand out in a sea of applicants. That may not be easy, depending on your field.

Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ultimately quit your job. Even when unemployment is high, there is a slew of excellent reasons to walk away from a position. What are the signs that quitting a job is the right choice? Let’s take a look.

Top 12 Reasons to Quit Your Job

1. Unreasonably Dangerous Workplace

While many jobs come with a degree of risk, if your workplace is unreasonably dangerous, the answer to “should I quit my job” could be a resounding “yes.” There are situations where employers don’t prioritize the safety of their staff.

For example, a manufacturer might be ignoring OSHA rules, like not providing required PPE or failing to follow lockout/tagout procedures. That puts employees at risk of injury, or potentially even death. And that isn’t the only potential example of a legitimately dangerous workplace where quitting could be the right decision.

2. Toxic Culture

In a similar vein, a toxic workplace can be incredibly harmful. If your manager is verbally abusive, conflict is part of daily business, or negativity reigns supreme, you are putting your mental health at risk.

Now, a difficult situation does not a toxic culture make. The issues have to be pervasive and long-lasting, not just a single incident. However, if the problems exist and management isn’t willing to step in and resolve them, heading for the exit could be a good idea.

3. Unrelenting, Unresolvable Burnout

If the idea of handling your duties drags you down, and the idea of heading to work on Monday makes it impossible to enjoy your Sundays, you might be burned out. It can happen when a job gets tedious or is otherwise unfulfilling, as well as if the environment is unsupportive.

Whether burnout is a reason to quit usually depends on whether the situation may resolve. For example, if your lack of interest is based on a short-term project, you may feel better once that wraps up. Similarly, if your bored with your duties, you may be able to speak with your manager about getting new responsibilities, allowing you to fix the problem.

However, if you’ve been burned out for a while and all attempts at resolving the issue aren’t working, quitting your job may be the right choice.

NOTE: Checkout our case study on “assessing burnout”.

4. Reaching a Dead-End

A dead-end is the enemy of any career. If you’ve been in your role for a while and there’s no way to keep moving forward with your employer, that alone can be a reason to quit.

However, it’s important to note that this situation isn’t necessarily dire. You might not want to walk away until you land a new job. That way, you can preserve your income while you track down something new.

5. Skill Stagnation

Along a similar line, if you’ve stopped developing or honing your skills, or haven’t acquired a new one in a while, the answer to “should I quit my job” might be “yes.” Continued growth is important for your career. Not only does it keep you engaged and your capabilities relevant, but it also supports progression.

6. Serious Illness

If you or a loved one are chronically ill, saying goodbye to your job to handle the situation might be a wise decision. Leaving for a personal illness allows you to care for yourself in a way that you may not be able to if you keep working, making it a potentially legitimate reason to walk away. Similarly, if a family member needs care, tendering your resignation might be wise.

Just make sure you explore every available option. If you enjoy your job and may want to return, you may be able to make use of the Family and Medical Leave Act, allowing you to step away for a period without having to quit.

7. Schedule Changes

Schedule changes may play a role in when to quit your job. If your new hours don’t work with the rest of your life, leaving immediately might be a necessity. For example, if you’re a single parent, are suddenly placed on the night shift, and can’t arrange for overnight childcare, you may have little choice but to quit right away.

However, if the schedule change is inconvenient but temporarily manageable, you may want to find a new position before you quit. That way, you can transition into something that’s more accommodating, instead of experiencing a period of unemployment.

8. Heading to School

While it’s true that plenty of people work while they go to school, that doesn’t mean you may not want to quit your job. For example, if you need certain classes that are only available at specific times of the day and you can’t get that time off work, you may have little choice.

Additionally, studying and working at the same time is challenging. If you can financially afford to focus on your education without having to keep a job, then quitting isn’t necessarily a bad move.

9. Moving to a New City

When it comes to reasons to quit a job, moving is a big one. Unless your employer happens to have a workplace in your new city or offers telecommuting options, giving your notice might be a necessity.

10. A Chance at a Dream

Sometimes, you’re moving forward in your career, and everything is generally fine. But “fine” isn’t “great.” You’re not necessarily burned out, but you aren’t thrilled either.

Plus, you’ve got a dream to do something completely different. You just haven’t found a chance to make it happen. Then, one day, that opportunity comes along. You can accept an entry-level role elsewhere that lets you start working toward that dream, and you aren’t sure you can ignore it.

While taking a pay cut is risky, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t quit and go after it. Job satisfaction does matter. If you don’t love your current field, and you are passionate about this new one, taking the chance could be the best decision.

11. Building Something New

Most professionals spend their careers working for established companies. However, many would enjoy a chance to build something new. Maybe that means working for a startup or launching a freelancing career. It could even involve diving into entrepreneurship and starting a new business.

If the idea of building something new is important to you, then it could be a reason to quit your job. Just make sure you’re financially ready for the transition before you take the leap.

12. Your Gut Says Go

Sometimes, you can’t quite put your finger on why you want to leave. All you know is that every time you’re at work, “I want to quit my job” keeps circling through your head.

Usually, when your gut says, “go,” there’s a reason. It’s possible you’ve instinctively clued into a problem, but your conscious mind just isn’t catching it. However, if the desire to hit the road is unrelenting, even if you don’t know why, you may want to listen.

Again, this is a situation that isn’t always an emergency. That means you may want to find something new first before you walk away. Just keep your eyes open while you do. You may be able to figure out what your gut is worried about, allowing you to examine the situation again to determine what move is right.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, figuring out when to quit your job can be challenging. It’s a personal decision, so you need to make one that feels right to you. Hopefully, the information above makes that a little bit easier. Reflect on the reasons, as well as the pros and cons of quitting your job. That way, you can make an informed choice.

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.