5 Signs It’s Time To Leave Your Job

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Thinking it's time to leave your job? Here are 5 signs you might be right, and what you can do to improve your situation before quitting for good.

Working at a job you don’t like is never much fun, and I think just about everyone has been there.

I know I have. From being misled about the job description and title, to not receiving any training whatsoever, to being given tight deadlines and not allowed any overtime, and to being threatened and yelled at by the public, I’ve been there.

If you’re thinking it’s time to quit because you’re fed up, but aren’t sure if you should, here are five signs it’s time to leave your job, and some alternative solutions for these common workplace issues.

1. There’s No Room For Growth


Did you take an entry-level job, or do you work at a small company? Your chances of moving up the ladder may be slim.

Your boss may have outright told you there’s no possibility of a promotion. Maybe people have been working in their positions for years and plan to continue until they retire. No room for advancement is troubling, especially if you’re just starting out.

This happened to me in almost all my jobs, mostly because I’ve worked for companies with less than 20 employees. We didn’t have many departments or positions, so it was difficult or impossible to move up.

Working in a civil service position also makes promotion difficult, as you typically need to take and score well on an exam to move up. It’s easy to give in to career lethargy in this situation; when you can’t move up, look for opportunities to grow yourself professionally by developing a new skill that will make your move to a new job easier and give you more opportunities down the road.

If you have a review with your manager, don’t be afraid to bring up the possibility of advancement down the road. You can’t expect them to know you want more responsibility, and you might get some insight as to what their plans are.

2. The Work Isn’t Challenging


This is personal preference, but I’ve held a few jobs that weren’t very challenging. Because I was able to zip through all my tasks for the day within a matter of hours, I was left twiddling my thumbs.

If you’re bored at work, surfing the Internet because you have too much downtime, or are constantly looking at the clock, your job might not be challenging enough for you.

This depends on how you like to work – you might enjoy being able to relax, or you might enjoy being kept so busy the day flies by.

If you’re not being challenged, ask if there’s anything you can help out with. All my bosses encouraged me to ask for extra work when I had nothing to do. If they didn’t have any requests, I’d take it upon myself to clean and organize the office space (I was an assistant).

Is there a side project at work you’ve been thinking about taking on? Working on it during your downtime could be a productive use of your time.

3. Lack of Communication


Working with bosses or colleagues that don’t communicate their expectations well can be really frustrating. Miscommunication is the enemy of efficiency in the workplace.

There were times my bosses emailed the incorrect person to do a task, which lead to that person trying to complete it instead of forwarding it to the appropriate person. Or two people ended up working on the same thing.

What was even worse was having three bosses who couldn’t agree on how to do things, so we’d get three different sets of directions and had to manage different expectations. It was office politics at its worst.

It’s enough to drive a lot of people crazy, and sadly, there’s not much you can do about it besides making suggestions. Is there a better system you can implement? Can you type up a guide of who in the office is responsible for what? Try to make everything clearer to people so less miscommunication occurs. If that doesn’t work, move to a better functioning workplace!

4. You’re Underpaid


This one could possibly be a result of not negotiating enough when you were first hired, not asking for a raise, or your company being really cheap. Either way, being underpaid can lead to a lot of resentment. Not good!

If you know the average salary someone in your position and area makes, or know that your co-workers are getting paid more, you need to do something about it.

Many people have been able to get a raise by “promoting” themselves. They just move on to another company willing to pay more. Sometimes, it’s easier to negotiate upfront with a new employer. If you’ve been content with your pay for years, your manager might wonder why you’re suddenly asking for an increase.

That said, it never hurts to ask, especially if you have salary data to back your request up.

5. It’s Not Fulfilling


This has been a common reason for millennials leaving jobs in the past few years. That might be because we saw our parents work soul-sucking jobs for years just because of the benefits and pension they were offered.

Unfortunately, that’s changed. Benefits and pensions aren’t guaranteed, and staying at one job for 20+ years isn’t the norm.

Some people want to feel like they’re making a difference in the world, and faxing papers just isn’t cutting it for them.

Thinking it's time to leave your job? Here are 5 signs you might be right, and what you can do to improve your situation before quitting for good.

Should You Leave Your Job?


Deciding to quit a job is never easy (I’m always a ball of nerves giving my two weeks notice). However, you don’t deserve to be unhappy 40+ hours a week. If you can’t leave work at work, you might be better off moving on.

However, you should do so in a constructive way. Narrow down what you did and didn’t like about your past jobs, and create a list of what you want in your next job. This way, when you’re on an interview, you can ask the appropriate questions to see if the job and company are a good fit for you. Interviews are a two way street!

Remember, the grass isn’t always greener. If you have to, make a list of the pros and cons of your job. This could give you the perspective you need to make the right decision. Do what you can to better your situation before quitting.

Lastly, it goes without saying: don’t leave your job without having another one lined up, or without having enough money saved. Also, if you’re getting abused at your job in any way, please don’t stay in that toxic environment.


Have you had to make the decision to leave your job before? How did you reach a conclusion? What other signs are there? What is the least favorite job you’ve worked? How long did you endure it and how did you come to make the decision to move on?

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Erin M. is a personal finance freelance writer passionate about helping others take control over their financial situation. She shares her thoughts on money on her blog Journey to Saving.


  • Rebecca@TheFamilyFinder.Net says:

    I knew it was time for me to leave my job when it started to be so demanding that I was no longer able to put family first. For several years I oversaw 1 building. A 2nd building was added with no thought to how that would work and I was just expected to manage. I held out as long as I could. In the end I stay home with my kids and it seems that everything happens for a reason.

    • Erin says:

      It’s good to hear everything worked out, Rebecca! I can relate, as one of the companies I worked for kept growing, but didn’t anticipate how it would impact our workload. It became way too stressful.

  • Thomas @ i need money ASAP! says:

    This hits home. My job has become too easy. You’d think that would be a good thing but it makes the days quite boring and slow. Having a challenging job is pretty important.

    • Erin says:

      I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. I like being kept busy and on my toes throughout the day. Sitting there with nothing to do is the worst!

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I’ve quit a lot of survival jobs when these factors start to become overwhelming. Even if I wasn’t sure what I’d do for income, it just wasn’t worth staying- and it all worked out for the better!

    • Erin says:

      I would say so! Eventually, something has to give. That’s why I’m a big fan of having savings – it gives you options. I never felt like I *had* to stay in any job I held because of a paycheck.

  • Eric @ Retire29 says:

    I would add as a reason to leave, “Your Job Does Not Provide You The Opportunity To Pursue Other Interests.”

    I wrote a post a while back called “So You Say You Want to Work Forever?” about four factors that would be necessary to stay at a job after you no longer needed the money. You touched on most of them (fulfilling, well-compensated, simply liking the work). However, a big regret of those in life’s twilight is the neglect to pursue so many of their true interests. If your job allows for the freedom to enjoy other pursuits–then it’s all the more reason to stay!

    Thanks for posting.


    • Erin says:

      Agreed! I had wanted to touch upon that (and the option for self-employment), but the article was getting a little long already. I’m sure there are many people out there who regret working so much over spending time with family, or pursuing their hobbies. It’s great when you can combine your interests and work, though!

  • Jason B says:

    I left my last job for some of the reasons you listed in this post. It was a dead end job. I was getting the bare minimum at my position. I also was doing much more work than I was supposed to for that job. I made the decision to quit and get out of my comfort zone. It was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve made in life.

    • Erin says:

      Doing a lot of work for not enough pay is probably one of the most common reasons to leave a job. It’s happened to me quite a few times. No one enjoys feeling like they’re being taken advantage of.

      I find getting out of your comfort zone to be worth it most of the time!

  • Dane Hinson says:

    I think everyone has gone through certain funks where they feel that they want a career change. Many times it’s a temporary feeling which is perfectly normal. But if you’re feeling unfulfilled consistently it’s definitely better to start looking to transition out of your current job. Life is too short to punch the clock.

    • Erin says:

      I think so, too. I usually wait a month or so just to see if things change. I would never recommend jumping ship immediately because there are so many factors that can affect how we feel at work. It can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause.

  • Mark@BareBudgetGuy says:

    I hesitated to read this for fear that it might actually push me over the edge to make the leap. Definitely good things to think about. I may get there in the future…

    • Erin says:

      I would say that’s a sign in and of itself! I don’t think leaving a job is ever easy, but you have to do what’s right for you. After all, companies never hesitate to look out for their bottom line.

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    Now I know when to leave my job. I feel I am underpaid but the work is really challenging and I want to stay further for experience purposes so that when I apply for my next job, I would not get an entry-level position.

    • Erin M says:

      It’s not fun to be underpaid, but if you are gaining valuable experience, then sometimes it can be worth it to stay. Especially to move up when you do leave!

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