Quitting my job was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life so far. I didn’t know what I was going to do next, and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do next. I just gave myself a deadline and if I didn’t have something to transition to by then, I was going to leave anyway.
There are many reasons to leave a job, and there are certainly more reasons not to leave. You’re not just quitting a job, you’re quitting a guaranteed paycheck, medical benefits, possibly burning bridges, and losing mentors and references for the next stage of your career. Regardless if conventional knowledge is guiding your decision and you have a new job lined up, or your gut tells you the chance of a gap in your resume is worth the risk, there are certainly valid reasons to voluntarily resign and move on with your life.
Realizing you’re not growing
I fall into the camp of people that needs change every 3-5 years. If my current position is not challenging me to be better, putting me in positions to stretch my abilities, or opening doors to new experiences, then they are not worth my time or investment. Same goes for my career. At one point I realized that I was operating on autopilot. I acknowledged I could eventually get better and build my skills, but it was only a certain set of skills (insert Liam Neilson voice). My repertoire of abilities was beginning to look one dimensional and I soon realized 7 years from now I’d be doing the same exact thing, but just more efficiently. I knew I had to leave because plataeuing was not an option.
Others are preventing you from growing
We all have those colleagues. You know, the boys club that that leaves you out of the exciting projects, the supervisor that creates more hurdles than there needs to be, the struggle to fight through systematic disadvantages, and those who just do too much and get in your way. Whoever comes to mind, we all have experienced people who make it too hard to do our job or hinder our progress. I can put up a good fight but once I realized I was spending more time fighting battles instead of excelling, I knew it was time to move on.
A raise or progression is unlikely
As a millenial it’s unlikely I will stay in one job for 40 years until I retire. But even if I did, I would make sure there is a possibility for upward mobility within that organization. I wouldn’t want to remain in the entry level position forever, but would hope to take on more managerial roles until I was a director of some sort and could retire making substantially more than when I began. As an attorney in private practice many of us have an expiration date on our backs after 12 years, unless we become a partner. If an attorney doesn’t make partner then changing careers at that your level of experience will be difficult and somewhat confusing for potential employers. Whether you’re an attorney in private practice, entry level employee, or lateral recruit, it’s important to think ahead about whether there is room in your current organization to progress and what barriers you will have to overcome to get there. If after all your best efforts, progression looks uncertain, it’s better to leave on your own terms instead of being asked to when your services are no longer needed.
Lack of respect for your time
I’ve been working for a little over three years. In that time I’ve learned that I flourish in environments where I am allowed the autonomy to set my own schedule (according to the needs of the client of course). It was only when my activities were micromanaged, or when I was forced to work at hours, on days, and within bounds set by others that my work product and happiness suffered. I do believe I am a team player, but working in a team doesn’t work unless there is respect for each others’ time, that leaves room for trust that the job will get done. There are times to set reminders and check-ins, and work long hours. But if those scenarios become incessant and cause you to produce work sub par to the work you are otherwise capable of (if given the space), then it may be time to find a new team for the sake of both parties involved.