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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Time to Quit Your Job? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself First

Time to Quit Your Job? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself First
Credit: alphaspirit/Shutterstock

"That's it; I quit!"

If you've ever fantasized about storming into your boss's office and uttering those words after a bad day at work, you're not alone. You may even be going through a rough patch where every day seems worse than the last. But is it really time to turn in your resignation?

"It's normal to feel lukewarm about your job sometimes," said Mary Ellen Slayter, a career expert for Monster.com. "Often, that feeling passes. Other times, the signs are clear that it's time to move on."

When you're trying to determine whether you really need to change jobs, there are five questions you should ask yourself about your current position: [How to Interview for a Job While You've Still Got One]

Do my problems at work go beyond a personal issue with a colleague or boss? When you just don't get along with a co-worker, it can be easy to project those feelings onto the job or company as a whole. Chris Smith, founder and CEO of networking and content discovery site Athlete Network, said that when workers start thinking about leaving their job, a personal issue is usually at the root of it. While working with someone you don't particularly like can cause some friction, it shouldn't be the only reason to uproot your career.

"If the grass seems greener elsewhere, water your lawn first," Smith told Business News Daily. "Pinpoint why you want to change jobs. [If] it's really the career path or company that's bugging you, figure out your goals [and look for a new job]."

"The company culture at your firm isn't likely to change, and if it doesn't suit you, you may want to move on," added Bill Driscoll, district president of Accountemps staffing firm. "Make certain, though, that it's the culture you're unsatisfied with and not other aspects of your job."

Am I constantly stressed about work, even outside the office? Bringing work home and worrying about job-related issues during your personal time happens to most people now and then. Slayter noted that these stresses are likely temporary if you're working on a particularly difficult project, but you shouldn't continually dread the thought of going into the office.

Have I been passed over repeatedly for promotions? It's never a good feeling to watch your colleagues move up the ladder without you. If you've been turned down for advancement, find out why, Slayter said. Your boss or HR department should be able to give you concrete steps for improving your chances; if they can't, you may not want to stick around much longer. 

"Sit down with your manager and get his or her perspective on your career path," Driscoll added. "If expectations for the future don't align, you can feel more confident in exploring other opportunities."

Have I gone as far as I can go with this company? On the other side of the spectrum are workers who feel stuck in their current jobs. There's no room for them to advance, and they likely won't ever earn the big raise they deserve for their hard work and talents. If you feel like you've hit a wall with your current employer, a new job might be the chance you need to move up in your career. However, David Gilcher, lead resource manager at staffing firm Kavaliro, cautioned would-be job seekers to do their research before making a final decision.

"Get information to support your decision," Gilcher said. "Are you looking at an average salary of people in your exact role who have the same [amount] of experience? Make sure you have a realistic expectation of what is out there from a salary standpoint. Also, you need to project the financial changes that will occur once you receive a new position. For example, if you're moving, you need to look at things like housing and cost of living to make an accurate assessment."

Driscoll noted that if your primary reason for wanting to leave is your salary, consider your entire compensation package before you quit. Other benefits like telecommuting, flex time or generous vacation time, as well as untapped opportunities to develop skills within the company, can make up for a smaller paycheck.

Am I ready and willing to start over? When you change jobs, even within the same industry, you're still the new person, Gilcher said. You'll have no tenure or established relationships with co-workers in most cases, and you'll be learning about a new company with its own processes and procedures. For this reason, you need to do your best to research the companies you're applying to and see if you're ready to jump into something new.

Gilcher also noted that timing is of utmost importance with big decisions like this. If you don't have any obligations — financial, medical, familial, educational, etc. — that rely on you keeping your current salary and benefits, then you can feel confident about making a change.

If your answer is "yes" to many of these questions, it's probably wise to start looking for a new job. When you're considering your next move, be sure to take the time to figure out where you really want to go in your career, and network with individuals who have the job you want or work for an employer you're interested in, to get an inside look before you jump ship. Most important, Gilcher reminded workers to be 100 percent sure that their decision is carefully thought out and based on logic, not emotion.

"Never leave a job on an impulse," Gilcher said. "Tough days happen. Difficult people and situations come along. Take a moment to breathe and assess. When you're collected, if you feel the same, then start your job search the right way."

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

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