5 Signs it’s time to leave your job

Posted on May 25, 2023

By Mike Carter

Most people no longer stay at the same company or career for their entire life. It’s more common than ever to switch companies or career paths after a few years until you find the right fit for your skills, personality, and career goals.

But the question remains, how do you know it’s time to leave your job? All of us feel like leaving our jobs at some point in our careers, and this is normal as the world changes and our values and aspirations evolve.

But, if you feel that nagging “I’ve gotta leave this place” vibe too often, that might be a sign it’s time to leave. In this article, I share the most common reasons to switch jobs or career paths.

1. You dread going to work

Do you spend your Sundays in dread about having to go back to work the next morning? If you are not enjoying the work you do, the company of your co-workers, or the employer, it might be a sign to start looking for new employment or seeing what you can do to make it enjoyable again. If you want to stay, discuss your career aspirations with your manager to see how you can be set on the right path without leaving the company.

2. You don’t like your succession plan (or lack of plan)

Maybe you planned to stay with the company and work your way up through the ranks, but you discover that the senior roles you want to have one day are making sacrifices (such as family time) that you don’t want to do. Or maybe your employer refused to work with you in their succession planning. If you see no long-term personal or professional incentives to become one of those 20- or 30-year employees, you may want to consider a career move.

That’s not to say there isn’t value in working in these environments for a time. You can build up skills, experience, or connections you need for the future. But if you feel you’ve got everything you could from this position, what’s keeping you from leaving?

3. Your salary or job conditions no longer meets your lifestyle needs

Some companies don’t offer regular or earned raises, and you may be earning the same as you did as an entry-level employee. Maybe your family has grown, and your $50k per year salary no longer supports your growing family. If your salary can no longer support your lifestyle or financial needs, you have two options: Discuss a raise (and justification for it) with your boss, or seek a job that can better support your lifestyle needs.

Same if you need more flexibility in time off or flexible work-from-home days. If you need this and your current company can’t provide this, then it might be time to leave.

4. Pay is good. Company is great. But you’re not loving your work anymore.

As we go through life, our tastes and desires change. For example, you may have graduated college thinking you were destined for a regional sales manager role, but ten years later, you switch to digital marketing. It happens to many of us, myself included.

If you’re no longer excited by your work, look for opportunities to try a new career path. I know it can be scary to start from scratch, but if you plan for it, you can make it work for you in the long term.

5. Company policies conflict with your values or needs

Is your employer mandating you back to work five days a week post-pandemic? If you enjoy or need the flexibility of working from home (even part of the time) and your employer can’t provide that flexibility, it could motivate you to seek a new job.

The bottom line: When to leave your job

No article, even this one, can tell you it’s time to leave your job. But I can say that if you’re not happy or fulfilled in your job today and can’t imagine a future for yourself in your current career path or company, it may be time to look for other opportunities.

Working with an executive recruiter like my colleagues and myself at MacDonald Search Group can be done discreetly if you’re just looking to explore your options without announcing to the world and your employer that you’re considering leaving. Let’s chat about what you’re looking for in your perfect career role, and we can help you find companies that check all your boxes.