Dream Job Blog

Knowing when to leave your job

The Great Resignation has become a part of our everyday conversations. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.8M workers quit their jobs, an average of ~4M each month — making 2021 the highest average on record. For reference, the year with the lowest monthly average was 2009, which averaged ~1.75M. 

The time at home during the pandemic gave us the space to reflect and assess our lives, including our careers. Many of us were grateful for the support and flexibility received from our employers. And many of us realized how burned out we were and/or were ready for a new challenge.

While it’s tempting to ride the wave of resignations, it’s a good time to search inside yourself to see if a move is the right thing for you and if so, when to make it. 

Signs it’s time to move on and actions to see if there’s a chance to improve your situation

  • You’re in a toxic environment: the company fosters a culture of blame and it’s unsafe to make mistakes or provide different perspectives.Staying at a bad company adversely affects your psyche, confidence and mental health. I highly recommend contacting your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to understand your benefits such as counseling and medical leave. Utilize your benefits and then when you’re in a better place, you can create a sound exit strategy.

  • You’re undervalued: you’re not getting the recognition you deserve for the work you’re doing, especially when going above and beyond. Or worse, your manager or other colleagues take credit for your work.

    Admittedly, there’s not much you can do, especially if the culture doesn’t foster collaboration and kudos. You can have a direct conversation with your manager and anyone who is taking advantage of you. It’s difficult to do and may not affect change, but it might increase awareness of their own behavior. The best course of action is to look for a company with a better culture.One more note here: the number one reason we stay or leave a job is our manager. If you don’t have a great manager, explore other groups to see if you can find a leader and team members who you respect and would enjoy working with.

  • You’re not learning and growing: your growth has stalled or slowed down. You’re not given opportunities to stretch, gain new knowledge and embrace new challenges. Career growth, whether lateral or upward is foggy at best.Network internally and find other roles and teams you’re interested in — and volunteer for projects. Talk to a wide range of leaders, see who you connect with and ask them to mentor and coach you on a specific area. You can also find classes and conferences — and see if there is a professional development budget you can use.

  • You’re underpaid: money shouldn’t be your primary driver, but you should at least earn your market value. If you’ve had a long tenure or didn’t negotiate well when you took your job, you may be below the market rate.

    Do some research — check out Glassdoor Salary and PayScale (+ Levels.fyi if you’re in product and engineering). The caveat here is they also can’t keep up with the rapid pace of compensation changes, but they’ll give you a ballpark idea. If you have friends in similar roles or recruiting in the same industry, you can also ask them for ranges.Once you have the data, present it to your manager and see if there’s an opportunity to get your compensation up to par. Otherwise, it’s time to move to a good company who values their employees and pays at the high end of the market (there are many out there — think high growth and unicorns)!

  • It’s not the right cultural fit: if you’re in a “hustle” and “work harder” culture and you’re more of a “work smarter” person, then you’re probably in the wrong place. When you’re not in a place where you fit in, you can’t thrive and do your best work. So it’s important to understand what kind of company is the right place for you. 

If you find yourself in any of these situations, it might be the right time to make a strategic career move. Before you start to look, I highly recommend having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for.

In a recent article, I shared a set of exercises that help set a benchmark for what’s most important to you in your job and career. Once you’ve established that, you can assess your current job and company and see how much alignment there is. 

If there’s pretty good alignment, it might be a signal to change departments or teams. It’s time to network internally and see what opportunities might be a good fit for you.

If there’s a big gap, then you know it’s time to leave. And the good news is that you also have clarity on what you are looking for. 

When it’s time to give notice, take a few minutes to read my framework and advice on how to leave your job gracefully.

If you’re ready to find a job and company that aligns to your career goals and core values, then watch our video and book a session with one of our job strategists. We’re excited to talk about how you can make a strategic career move.

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