When is it the wrong time to quit your job?

The professional working arena is in a constant state of flux these days. The average job tenure across the board is now four and a half years, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many employees are constantly searching and leaving for a better opportunity, and their reasons for doing so include financial, relational, locational, personal, and many more. While a negative situation can certainly compel you to begin looking at other options, a hasty decision to leave your place of employment might end up costing you more in the long run. Here are some indications that it is probably the wrong time to quit your job.

1. You do not have another employment situation secured. It is generally very unwise to jump ship with no lifeboat ready for you; many people have found themselves without an income for far too long because they left their previous job without having another one lined up. Barring the exceptions where an immediate replacement of income is unnecessary or less important than exiting an extremely toxic situation, I recommend sticking with it until your next job is ready for you.

2. You are still in your first 6 months to a year at your current job. Obviously dates are fluid when it comes to this principle, but as a general rule, a history of frequent job hopping every few months is damaging to your future career opportunities. Demonstrating reliability and loyalty can be very instrumental in landing your dream job, so don’t jeopardize that with a pattern of quick turnover if you don’t absolutely have to.

3. You are starting to get a little bored. While continuous growth and challenge are important for a progressive career, they aren’t always automatically handed to you. Sometimes you must be more proactive with your professional development and work load, asking your peers and supervisors if you can assist with any of their project overflow or seeking some continuing education courses on your own. Try to exhaust your options at your current job before looking elsewhere.

4. You are starting to get a little stressed. On the flip side of the coin, an uncomfortable increase in your work load isn’t a green light to drop everything and run. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn the skills of prioritizing, increasing your efficiency level, delegating, and properly declining to take on more than you should. Not only are these skills valuable for your current employment, but prospective employers will be impressed to see how you handled increased responsibility.

5. You are annoyed by company policy. Some rules and regulations can undoubtedly be tedious, but don’t throw the towel in simply because they make your tasks more difficult. You don’t want to be branded as someone who can’t be flexible or respectful to authority. Instead, start by adapting as best as you can, looking for creative solutions, and finding appropriate opportunities to suggest changes that would benefit the company as a whole.

6. You are experiencing relational tension on the job. Whether it’s your snippy cubicle neighbor, your micromanaging supervisor, or that unreasonable client, office drama often tempts people to flee for the nearest exit. However, life outside of a vacuum demands that we work alongside less-than-agreeable people from time to time. Unless the situation is unbearable and causing significant damage to your personal and professional life, it’s best to use this opportunity to sharpen your interpersonal communication skills for a little while longer. Chances are good that you will keep running into prickly people at various stages of your career, so a track record of successfully navigating turbulent relational waters could prove invaluable in a future occupation.

All of these factors frequently contribute to people making unwise and often lateral or even backwards moves in their career, simply because they want to get out of the uncomfortable situation they are in. Obviously no one wants to remain in an unpleasant environment forever, and the good news is that you don’t have to. My recommendation is that, whenever you do find yourself in less-than-pleasing circumstances in your employment, you first make the best of what you have and wait for the right opportunity that is a smart move that will truly benefit your long term career.

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