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Can I Quit My Job Now?
No job is perfect. After all, it's a job. It's not called vacation. Or recreation, or entertainment, or leisure, or any other word that implies you can kick back and do whatever you want or nothing at all. A job is work. Some days you just don't feel like working, but you have to go anyway. Then there are the people at the job. Some are likable, but likely not all. You didn't choose them, and you wouldn't choose them for friends, but you have to work with them anyway. So why stay at a job you don't love? Cha-ching! Your job pays you money, and you need money to live. Still, there are a variety of situations in which you need to leave a job.
Number One Reason for Leaving a Job
In poll after poll, the number one reason people gave for leaving a job was their boss, according to Gallup polls—not salary or benefits, but difficulties with their immediate supervisor. If this describes your situation, you may feel he doesn't respect you, doesn't trust you or nothing you do is good enough. Could be he's a bully and this is his personality. But whether he treats everyone badly or just you doesn't really matter. If you're being mistreated by your boss, you've tried to win him over with your exemplary skills and dedication but know you never will, it's time to move on.
Get Out Before Everyone Else Does
If it looks like the company is going to lay off a lot of people, it may be wise to get out before that happens. Once the market is flooded with job seekers with your skills, all vying for the same job openings, finding a new job may be tougher. Signs that your job is in jeopardy include: staff downsizing little by little in all departments; hiring freezes; the company's stock value dropping steadily or rapidly; having less work to do; and knowing that your industry or position is becoming less in demand or may be phased out. Keeping your nose to the grindstone can show a solid work ethic, but not if it keeps you from seeing what's going on all around you. As the saying goes, "wake up and smell the coffee." If it isn't fragrant where you are, seek greener pastures while you can.
Don't Stay Underpaid Forever
Sometimes, it's OK to take a job where you know you're being underpaid because of the boost it can give your career. Maybe you've changed industries and don't yet have the skills required for the job. Or the company sees your potential and has offered to train you in a new position. But that doesn't mean you should accept that low salary forever. Once you've gained those skills, the company should be willing to raise your salary to be within the range of expected salaries for that position.
Now, bear in mind that most companies don't award raises out of the blue, on their own. Once you feel you've reached the point where you deserve the salary boost, you have to ask for it. If possible, set an agreement up front before accepting the job, that when you achieve the stated goals you will receive a salary increase. Be specific about the goals and the amount of the increase, and get it in writing. If your boss isn't willing to set goals and dates for your raise, or if her timing is too long for you to wait, you're justified in seeking out a company that will pay you at least the industry standard for someone with your skills.
Rethink and Renegotiate
If you didn't think to arrange for an increase in advance, you're not doomed forever. Set up an appointment to talk with your boss about the raise. Be armed with examples and data that back up your accomplishments, such as projects you've worked on successfully, leadership roles you've taken on, and skills you've learned that show your readiness in the higher position. Then ask outright for the dollar amount you deserve. If you're turned down, ask when you can discuss your raise again, and what goals you need to meet by that time. If you're rebuffed or continually stalled, take that as a clue of things to come and get out now.
Old Role in a New Job
Maybe you're not being given the higher level role you were promised. You expected the job to offer certain challenges and the ability to learn new skills, but it's falling short. You did tasks like these in previous jobs. Now you're just plain bored and don't see that changing. If you've asked your supervisor for more challenging work to no avail, it's time to move on.
Your Body Knows
You're back at work after a holiday and are already miserable. You dread Mondays or hate getting out of bed every single day. You can't remember the last time you had a good day at work. Your desk drawer is full of antacids and headache remedies that you use daily. You feel physically and mentally drained all the time.
Your body is trying to tell you something, so sit up and take note. You're not happy with your job. Are there ways you can change that? Ask your supervisor for an assistant, or for an associate to take on some of your responsibilities or workload. Ask to be shifted from projects you find unfulfilling to projects that interest you. If you've tried these types of remedies and they haven't worked, or your requests were denied, you're justified in looking elsewhere. Work takes up a good portion of your life. It doesn't make sense to spend it unhappily all the time.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area who has written about careers and education for work.chron.com, workingmother.com, classroom.synonym.com and more. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards for her writing.