It’s Time To Quit

One of the first questions I get asked when I deal with individuals who are in job transitions is: How do I know when it’s time to quit?


Quitting a job is a big decision and it requires thoughtful and careful consideration. There are however certain circumstances that call for immediate action to find a new job if you don’t want to de-rail your life, risk your career, damage your mental or physical health or lose good relationships and friends.



There is also often the likelihood of Being Fired vs Quitting a job.


The risk of getting fired is the biggest axe an employer holds over an employee’s head. Redundancies and getting fired is increasingly common in underperforming industries such as the Print, Automotive or Retail sector here in Australia to name just a few.  Most professionals have tacitly accepted the idea that being fired is not only costly and disruptive to employees, their families, and particularly in Australia (their Mortgage), and should therefore be avoided at all costs. For this reason, many of us will accept untenable conditions at work and go to extraordinary lengths to keep our jobs.


The reasons people get fired are often not as a result of the employee’s own faults or behaviour.

If you are fired for one of the following reasons, you have been unlucky, but preparing for contingencies can help you move forward.


  • Personality mismatch – is amongst the most common reasons. Hanging on, because of the money, but actually you were not happy with the surroundings.  Repetitious and boring work environment, unhealthy – unhappy staff culture or the entire environment was just not comfortable. Being fired in these cases is probably a blessing, as it frees you to search for employment that is a better match for your experience and personality.
  • Skills mismatch – When you applied for the job, you were not completely aware of the full responsibilities of the job. This might be because the hiring professionals did not accurately check your skills and experience against the job requirements or he/she was lax in making things clear enough. Another possibility is where the job duties were switched on you after you were hired. If so, while it did not work out, at least you tried. Think positive as you will have better luck elsewhere.
  • Refusing to go along – Standing up for your beliefs, refusing to be dishonest or to overlook faulty business practices and being fired for it is not a slur on you; you should be proud for standing up for what is right.It;s called having integrity.
  • Downsizing – Thousands of people are downsized every day. It’s not their fault. It’s an impersonal business practice by which companies try to raise the value of their stock, minimise losses, change personnel following a takeover or merger, etc. The company itself may be downsizing products and or moving to different countries to lower expenses.
  • Unreasonable – If you became pregnant or needed to take time off to tend to a sick child or spouse, and if you put in a request for a short leave of absence and were fired, it had nothing to do with you. Don’t blame yourself. You might deal with this as job discrimination or unfair dismissal.

Parting ways with a company isn’t easy, and neither is standing still. In fact, most mistakes come from standing still and so there are times when it’s better to go than to stay. Here are some factors to weigh in making that difficult decision.


 # 1 Your work has become routine.

Are you involved in tasks at work every day that you feel you could do in your sleep? Have you been in the same position for three to five years without any new responsibilities or opportunities to grow? Particularly in this economy, where most industries are innovating and changing exponentially, it’s important to keep yourself on or close to the cutting edge and to keep your intellect engaged on the job. And it goes without saying that work is a heck of a lot more fun when you’re inspired rather than bored.


# 2 Your workplace is plastered with bad boundaries.

Here are a few examples: You’re never able to complete a task uninterrupted because others invade your workspace. Your peers or managers repeatedly take credit for your work. You are regularly asked to manage other people’s problems without any assistance. Your office is driven by gossip, back-stabbing or nepotism. Your colleagues routinely get drunk with each other after work, and pressure you to do the same. Or maybe your peers or your boss is engaged in an office affair, and it’s impacting everyone in the workplace.


# 3 Your industry is in turmoil.

Be informed and attentive to how your industry and your competitors are doing. News that other companies in the same industry are “tightening the belt” may be a sign that your company is less stable than you assume. It’s that moment when  the writing is on the wall.  If you work in the Australian Automotive, Print or Retail Industry you probably know what I am talking about. . Don’t be alarmed all the time, but be alert and keep your eyes and ears open. What’s happening to the people in your company: do the good people stay on board or go away? If key-players are leaving a competitor or your own company, find out why. (Usually, the best people leave first) Without a quick turn-around, brain drain spells the beginning of the end. It might be time to consider a career change. My tip : Don’t try to fix it; get on the job hunt right away!


# 3 Your boss is abusive.

This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how many experienced clients I work with who tolerate abusive behaviour from a boss on a daily basis. If your boss screams at you, throws things, belittles and humiliates you in front of others, or threatens your job security routinely, you are working for an abusive boss. And if you’re being harassed in any way, your boss is abusive.

No one deserves to be treated like this. Sadly, many companies tolerate this sort of behaviour for the sake of profitability or rainmaking by the offending party. You don’t have to accept this environment- you have options. The number one way to repair your self-esteem is to start taking action to get out. Revise your resume, dry clean your interview suit, and start sending out applications. Do it now.


# 4 Company profits are down (or non-existent). 

Watch out for your firm’s positioning and finances; the strategic importance of the division you work in; and be alert and aware of the internal standing of your boss. Is your employer able to pay the salaries or is ‘ cutting labour cost ‘ a regular vocabulary in conversations around you? Is your service or product well positioned to face future challenges? Does your boss help you grow? Analyse your employer and management, just as they evaluate you in an annual review. Leave a company that doesn’t measure up.


Words to the wise: if you decide it’s time to move on, don’t quit a position until you find the next one. Be discreet in your job search,  and don’t check out until you turn off the lights for the last time. Your reputation and job experience go with you. People will remember the colleague who stayed loyal and committed until the very last day of work.


With the right skills, attitude, dedication and perseverance, a job you love can and will be yours. Go get it and remember to hunt wisely!