We all have bad days at work, but when it feels like you haven’t had a good day in recent memory, it might be time to pack your things and move along.
Quitting your job can be scary, and it’s not the kind of decision you can make lightly. Whether you’re daydreaming about a more challenging role or you’re dealing with some nasty coworkers, it’s important to know when it’s time to pull the plug.
Here are some signs that it’s time to get out.
How to know when you should quit your job
1. Your skills are being underused
One of the most disheartening realizations you can have on the job is that management doesn’t recognize what you have to offer.
This might hit after being passed up for a promotion or later on as you ask for challenging projects repeatedly to no avail.
It’s not uncommon that starting a new job means easing into more and more responsibilities. But, if you’ve been waiting too long for your boss to call you up to the big leagues, it’s time to start looking at other options.
Our brains like tackling problems on a daily basis, and when you’re stuck in a role that feels like it’s centered on moving data around or writing emails — it can feel like your brain is just rotting away.
2. There are no learning opportunities
If there is little in the way of learning opportunities, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to look for a new job. Sure, you can’t expect to learn something new every day you’re at work.
But if you’ve leveled up as much as possible in this role, sticking around can cause your career to stall out. If you’re not learning anything new and you’re sitting around watching others get promotions — get out fast.
When you start looking for work, make sure you look for companies that support professional development. Look at company websites, read employee reviews, and ask the right questions.
Example questions might include:
- Do you have mentorship opportunities?
- What does success look like in this role?
- How do you support continuous learning?
- Do you typically promote from within?
3. Company culture isn’t a fit
Whether the office culture is just plain toxic or it’s not a match, when your daily grind isn’t quite right, it can feel as though you’re trying to be something you’re not.
It could be the people you work with, the set-up in the office, the approach to meetings. Maybe you hate the in-office foosball or catered lunches that prevent you from going outside midday.
Additionally, if you don’t share the company’s values or the direction they’re moving in just plain sucks, it likely feels disingenuous to work toward a goal that doesn’t mean anything to you.
4. Your job is affecting your personal life or health
Feeling overworked and miserable can impact the rest of your life in harmful ways. You might have a shorter fuse with your spouse or children. Or, you’ve started ignoring your friends. Maybe anxiety and stress are keeping you from enjoying yourself outside of work.
Stress symptoms affect more than relationships, they affect your body, too.
Left unchecked, you could start seeing your blood pressure climb, or develop heart disease, obesity, or diabetes. According to the American Psychological Association, stress impacts just about every major system in the body — so your unhappiness at work could turn into chronic pain, upset stomachs, and a whole lot of colds.
5. You dread going to work or can’t be bothered to care
If it feels like pulling teeth to perform basic tasks, it’s time to move on.
That said, you could simply be experiencing burnout. We experience burnout even at jobs we love — so if possible, take a vacation or a couple of days off to evaluate your feelings about the situation.
If that sense of dread is omnipresent and you find yourself watching the clock day in, day out, it’s time to get out of there. 40+ hours a week is a lot of time to dedicate to something that makes you miserable.
Additionally, if others can sense your unhappiness, it can impact your relationship with your boss and your colleagues. It might even be interpreted as a performance issue.
6. You don’t feel valued
There are several ways that a workplace might make you feel undervalued. One example is if colleagues routinely leave you out of the loop when discussing project details or scheduling meetings. In other cases, your ideas are not acknowledged or other people take credit for your accomplishments.
These slights add up over time — and you may become resentful, unmotivated, or just plain angry.
The other way this might play out is if you’re underpaid. If your responsibilities demand a bigger paycheck, it’s time to reevaluate your market value. Do some salary research to learn the average rate for your role — and maybe start applying for jobs.
Hanging around a bad job can hurt your career, your relationships, and your self-worth. If you’re not growing or you’re just not happy—it’s time to leave.
Don’t burn bridges and keep things professional during the job hunt and transition period. Instead, explain that you’re leaving to pursue the next phase in your career.