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8 Questions Before You Quit Your Job

This article was written by in Career and Work. 10 comments.


What do you do when you think you want to leave your job? Job dissatisfaction is a worldwide experience, and the occasional desire to quit is universal. When unemployment is high, however, employees of all types can be wary about leaving one job. Employers have all the power in the relationship, and people often feel that staying in a mediocre job or career is a better option than taking a risk with a new position — or with unemployment.

Great employees do not need to fear the unknown, as they tend to thrive in any situation. Even during periods of competitive job markets, a person for whom excellence is a thread woven into his or her psyche will find employers willing to open doors. Because individuals who strive for excellence outperform in all situations, self-evaluation can be difficult. This set of ten questions can help the best employees determine if the time is right to pursue other opportunities.

8 Questions Before You Quit Your JobThe high-performing employees addressed herein are not necessarily those who are the best team players or those who follow the company rules, but those who have the desire and skills to strive for excellence in all endeavors they pursue. This is a rare quality, and it’s a type of work ethic that needs to be instilled early in someone’s life. It’s difficult to put your best effort into everything you do, and unless your life is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining, you are operating at less than your full capacity. Extreme efforts can cloud vision of less than optimal situations, however.

Ask yourself the following questions as you, as a high-functioning individual, are considering whether to leave your work behind in favor of new opportunities.

1. Is the company rewarding me for my work?

Reward takes a variety of forms, and the best situation is where your desires match what the company has available. For example, if your only sense of reward comes from financial compensation, working for a non-profit organization with a tight budget could be problematic. Look at the whole picture. If you are passionate about the work you do, your reward may be intrinsic in the work itself. If you are working at your position more out of a necessity than a desire, your reward should take other forms, as something that is meaningful to you.

You need to let your company know what types of rewards are acceptable, as long as your performance warrants. If the company can find no way to reward you for excellent work, you should look to move on. Employees who seek excellence will almost always be in demand. Mediocre employees, on the other hand, are more susceptible to market forces.

2. Do I have good relationships with co-workers and managers?

Mutual respect is an important aspect of a fulfilling lifetime experience. You may spend eight hours a day or more with people you work with. If you don’t believe them to be good people or if they don’t believe you to be worthy of respect, the time you spend working with your colleagues and managers will be unfulfilling.

Beyond respect, you should expect to feel comfortable and at ease. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a sense of urgency, if necessary, within your workplace environment. Respect is the base, and above that, good relationships contain trust. You should expect your co-workers to be just as reliable as you. You shouldn’t need to micromanage others, and they shouldn’t be micromanaging you.

You can’t expect that everyone in your office will be your friend, but you can expect an environment in which there isn’t a pervasive sense of negativity.

3. Is there enough variety in my day?

While excellent performers can certainly function well in daily, repetitive tasks, this isn’t the best use of someone’s time and efforts. Most employees feel under-utilized with their set of responsibilities and authority, but this can be a significant problem for people who strive to excel. Great employees might be willing to put up with limited activities for a while, but it might be better to leave than stick around if there’s no sign of this improving.

The best position for a high-functioning employee is one where you have the opportunity to use as much as your skill set as possible. This is one reason excellence-focused individuals pursue starting their own businesses; this type of start-up work requires use of all mental faculties.

4. Can I continue to learn from my managers?

Education is a life-long endeavor, particularly if you work in, are interested about, or are passionate about an industry that continuously evolves. Excellent employees know that they should rarely be the smartest person in the room. Constant self-improvement is a need, not just for career advancement but more importantly for the sense of worth and value. If you are going to spend eight hours or more of your day working with people, you want to ensure there are opportunities available for you to continue building your skills, not just from a technical perspective but from a philosophical perspective as well.

Large companies with resources generally understand that employees have a need to continue learning but struggle to learn anything from managers. Taking the place of these learning opportunities, you may find mentoring programs, tuition benefits, company-sponsored seminars, and other programs designed to allow employees to expand their minds. These are not good replacements for having a manager who is interested or able to provide the insight you need to improve.

5. If I resolve my dissatisfaction, will I be happy?

Imagine yourself continuing to work at your current company but with all of the above concerns resolved. If this scenario still leaves you wanting more from your employment, it’s a great indication that it’s time to seek other opportunities. Even if you can’t put your finger on the cause of your dissatisfaction, you deserve to be happy. The danger is chasing an unrealistic dream.

The solution is to realize that happiness is a choice. You can simply choose to be happy with what you have. This isn’t “settling,” it’s analyzing your situation and concluding that your needs are being met. If your company is doing a good job of listening to your concerns and willing to place you in the best working scenarios, there is little more you can ask. If you can’t be happy with this, consider whether you would be happy anywhere. If so, consider moving on, but if not, choose to be happy.

6. Do I have another opportunity lined up?

A standard piece of advice is never to quit one job until you have another opportunity ready to go. People who strive for excellence might have some trouble with this concept. Someone for whom excellence is an important personal virtue will likely work hard until the day they quit, leaving little time for aggressive job hunting or soul searching. Excellence transcends job market conditions, though, so demand for you will still be high.

As a valuable contributor to your organization, you might not need to be concerned about your company knowing you’re seeking other opportunities. If you’re considering leaving, you should probably have had discussions with your managers during which you’ve made them aware of your disappointment, so this should not come as a surprise. The organization is not going to fire you if you are still a great asset, and they might be willing to help you find your next opportunity.

You will need to dedicate some time to self-marketing. Many people who strive for excellence don’t need external acknowledgment of their virtues for self-satisfaction. To find a job, however, you’ll need to be less humble and more willing to sell yourself as a desirable product. If, however, you are interested in making your own opportunities, you don’t need to wait for a job offer. There’s no time better than now to start your own endeavor.

7. Is my emergency fund ready?

People often stay in jobs they don’t like because they don’t want to risk losing the income. Households have debt to pay, whether from student loans, the expansion of a household, or overspending. Debt traps people into a situation where a strong percentage of every paycheck is destined elsewhere. This isn’t much different than indentured servitude. Even people who strive for excellence can be unprepared financially.

An emergency fund is the answer. Take some time to build an emergency fund from the ground up. Start by taking a small percentage of every paycheck and automatically transferring the amount into a high-yield savings account. You’ll want this account to be able to cover your living expenses for several months to prepare for a potential loss of income. Since you strive for excellence, consider expanding your emergency fund into a multi-layered emergency plan, which offers more flexibility and possibly less time to put into effect.

An emergency fund lets you take more career risks without hurting your family’s finances. You could take a more interesting and rewarding job for less pay, or you can start a new business without worrying about the immediate loss of income.

8. Will my decision affect my family’s stability?

Single people have more flexibility. They can take chances, move from location to location, and put up with less stability than people who have the added responsibilities of caring for a family. With a spouse and children, every decision you make affects more than just yourself, and it’s important to keep this in mind. The emergency fund mentioned above can help smooth financial rough patches when you make your decision to quit your unfulfilling job, but you need to worry about more than just the financial concerns.

If your dream requires you to move away from Kansas and set yourself up in California, you can’t make such a decision without considering the needs and desires of the rest of your family.

The reality of the economy is that most people cannot afford to consider quitting a job without a solid plan in place for replacing the income immediately. Job satisfaction is a luxury at a time when most people feel that they’re lucky just to have a job. If you are someone who strives for excellence in all that you do, you have more options open because you’ve done quite a bit to improve your measure of human capital. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to seek out solutions for improving your current situation before making a significant career move by quitting.

Photo: Guillaume Paumier

Published or updated May 30, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Rob Garcia

Great post, Flexo.
Moving jobs is a time consuming and stress generating event. Most people DON’T want to leave their current jobs, but they feel “forced” to it for lack of opportunities, feeling under appreciated, or simply bad management. Companies should be doing more to avoid employees getting to this point… internal mobility and career development should be areas each company should work on. I suggest you add a question: “can I move to another job within my company where I can learn new or leverage my existing skills?” If the answer is no… run. Otherwise, you”ll be stuck in a job that is not adding to your future.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

Internal mobility is a good option in a big company. I think there’s a tendency, however, for companies to move around employees, looking for a good fit, when there’s a good possibility that the employees are under-performers. Internal mobility is used as a replacement for firing, as companies are loathe to fire people they can’t otherwise subtly convince to quit. There is a chance to find a good fit with an internal transfer, so it could work out, but I’ve seen many people transferred to a different department (or into my department) who probably would be better suited working for a different company entirely.

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avatar Rob Garcia

Good point, internal mobility should not be a way to keep underperformers around, it should be the opposite. If you make it a way to find talent / skills you already have for projects or jobs you need people for immediately, it then becomes an exciting part of the company culture because I know I can always count on that when I get bored or want to learn new things. Think about the impact that it could have on the employee’s feeling of “security” if the company would hire from within before letting me go.

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avatar Casey

This is excellent information for me to use as the owner/operator/manager of my small business. As sales of my pet product grow, I am needing to create at least one FTE position, and I want to groom someone who will be invested in our success. If they are treated right, this can happen. Been there myself, which is why I now work for myself! I hope to be the kind of employer I always wanted to work for.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,535 (Platinum)

The experiences you’ve had with lackluster managers can certainly help you know what not to do when you’re responsible for other employees.

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avatar Lance@MoneyLife&More

I think a lot of people switch jobs because they are unhappy in life and attribute it to their jobs. You really need to think hard about what is causing the unhappiness before making a big move because you could always end up somewhere worse. These are great questions to ask yourself first to help you figure that out.

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avatar Jessica

Nice article Flexo, I think you should never quit job until n unless another one is waiting for you. Before leaving job one should think many times that can he/she afford to quit & what will happen if he/she fails to find another job (in the time of unemployment) further more is your family supporting your decision or not…

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avatar Ayaz

Great compilation of 8 points and I think the most point matter is that your skills and learning regarding your passionate field is been expanding and before taking the decision of quitting job once should certainly think about the emergency amount and about their family because once you do that no one knows how long it will take to get the other job, that’s really crucial.

Thanks for sharing great points!

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

I don’t think an Emergency Fund should be listed the same as the others. I could see some people reading this as saying you don’t need another source of income before quitting as long as you have an emergency fund. Quitting a job and being without employment is not an emergency. It is poor planning. While i don’t think that is what is meant and regulars on the site would not read it that way those just finding you might not read it the same.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I left a job six months before being vested. Seems really dumb, right. But the job was crushing my spirit. I had an emergency fund, and did temp work. Not having that job put me in a position where I met my boyfriend and current life partner. I traded a very small pension for a 25 year (so far) great relationship. Best trade I ever made. You don’t always know where things will lead you, but you have to go with your gut.

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