7 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

Change is hard. Finding a new job isn’t always easy and changing where you work can bring on stress. Even so, there are times when quitting your job is the best or only option you have.

A vague workplace malaise isn’t reason enough to quit. Changing jobs too frequently can earn you a reputation as a job-hopper. Sticking through a rough patch at work is admirable. But staying at a job that isn’t right for you does you and your career no good.

Here are seven signs it might be time to quit your job.

You’re never given clear goals

signs-quit-job-no-idea-what-im-doingMismanagement manifests in many ways. One of the most galling, and least productive, is when people are made to work without clear goals. Goals should be set for individual employees, at the team level, and in support of overall objectives. Goals keep you motivated, help you prioritize, and indicate whether your efforts are a success or merely adequate. If you’ve asked for help setting goals only to be refused, search for a gig somewhere that recognizes their value—and yours.

The rats are abandoning the sinking ship


If you haven’t been at your job very long, or if you’re not very senior, you might not be privy to all the clues that things are going awry at work. A mass exodus of employees, especially at the management level, can be a sign of deeper problems. Even if you aren’t worried enough to start interviewing, it’s wise to update your resume and enhance your LinkedIn profile.

Your boss is toxic and isn’t going anywhere

signs-quit-job-horrible-personPerhaps your boss is an unreformable micromanager. Or they’re uninterested in earning your trust. Or they’re a bully who thrives on power trips. Staying on the team of such a toxic person might be harming your career. If your boss doesn’t show signs that they’re likely to leave soon, you might need to be the one who departs.

Taking vacation or sick time is held against you

signs-quit-job-vacay-daysVacation and sick days aren’t a privilege. They’re part of the compensation you earn through your hard work—and are often protected by law. If your employer makes it impossible for you to take your allowable vacation or sick time, or punishes you for taking it, it might be time to look for a new job opportunity.

You’re horribly bored

signs-quit-job-i-dont-careWork isn’t always fun. At times, it can be menial, repetitive, and frustrating. But, you should get something out of your efforts. If you’re in it for the paycheck, no one’s judging. Perhaps, though, you want more. Work can provide opportunities to grow as a leader, gain knowledge and skills, or be intellectually and creatively inspired. If you’re bored because your work gives you no sense of purpose, get out there and find your next challenge.

You’ve had to turn a blind eye


It’s a fact of life that not all of your coworkers will be angels. This isn’t about Floyd, who keeps pilfering paperclips, and Janice, who plays Words with Friends while she’s on the clock. A workplace that condones fraud, waste, or illegal behavior might be a place to run from. If your supervisors are unwilling to take action, before you quit, consult an attorney or your union representative to make sure you’re protected.

You’re constantly complaining about work

Keep in mind, the job might not be the problem. You might be.


If your attitude is consistently negative, quitting your job might not make things better. Haters gonna hate, no matter where they work. It might be time to think through what you want out of your career, set some new intentions, and focus on improving yourself and your attitude.

Ready to quit?


Once you decide to quit and give notice, you have a final chance to make sure your soon-to-be-former colleagues think highly of you. Clean up your messes, lend a hand, document your on-the-job successes, and provide helpful feedback during your exit interview. Leave your job gracefully to depart on a high note.

How did you know it was time to quit a previous job? Share it in the comments.

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and trainer. Find her on Twitter at @girardinl.

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Rebecca Schreiber

If you’re going to quit, check your retirement plan account to see if you’re about to “vest” (read: keep) your employer’s match. Sometimes in can pay to wait another 1-2 months to walk away with another $2,000. You may also be able to take your disability and life insurance policies with you, so call the insurance company that contacts you about your policies and ask if they can be transferred to individual policies that you’d pay every month.

Rinella Binns-Harty Bolt

I can so relate to all the examples given. I’m a Medical social worker that was attacked by a patient who was on crack cocaine and alcohol in the VA Hospital located at New York Harbor. I have sustained injuries that with time I will be ok. I’m not claiming disability because my job working for the Federal Government/ Veteran’s population is not an intransient choice it is my passion. I was offered an opportunity to return to work from OWCP and signed the letter returned to work and was placed in a position as a Financial Technician. Since February 9,2015 I was, placed in a back room left without work or training, I have sent emails and have spoken personally with my supervisor, Assistant Chief, Chief of the Department and receive no response. I come to work each day seeking resolution/clarity from Supervision, HR, Union and receive no assistance.
I’m here to utilize my LMSW, CASAC-T and HIV & AIDS Educator skills/ education from Fordham University but has not been afforded the opportunity to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise – “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and woman who are America’s Veterans.
I have gone on two interviews which I was certain that I was qualified for the job but was not selected. The job was given to someone who is patient specific. I asked for the skillset of a patient specific social worker and it could not be provided. Thank you for affording this opportunity to look at other approaches in resolving this matter.


How are you doing now? Have you considered taking the patient to court for damages (especially for career damages)? Find out where is patient is now and how their live has progressed or degressed.


Loved the clips!!! Had to turn a blind eye was probably closest to my reason for quitting my last job. It was in a small family-owned business, though, so the stability of government was also a draw.


I actually started the mass exodus. When your manager is two feet away from another employee breaking about four different rules, as they disrespect you in front of your clientele, and tells you to, “just let it go”. Mind you, these have been their favorite words to you lately, because they do not want to start a report paper trail right before they transfer at the end of the month. I definitely enjoyed the two weeks of, “You have no power over me.” that followed.


I knew it was time when I dreaded coming to work and constantly had to protect myself from my sabotaging, incompetent supervisor, who did not value all the positive work I did, instead placed irrational roadblocks. I wanted to strangle my supervisor. I work in an area of many employees that are dissatisfied and leave in the manner you suggest, however I disagree with that. Tell the truth as to why you are leaving, not mere “helpful” feedback. Though doubtful, it just might help effect a culture change for the better, and if anything it will help other employees draw strength from the fact that it is not their issues that are the problem, but an awful management and culture.


Not having clear goals was a major reason I left a previous job. I had too much work and, with no goals, it was hard to prioritize and hard to feel successful.

Lauren Girardin

That’s such an important point, Rachel. How can you feel the satisfaction of a job well done if you don’t know if you’re doing it well? I hope you’re in a job that helps you attain the job satisfaction you deserve.


I resigned from my last job and only gave a week notice mainly because the Supervisor was on vacation and I needed to start my new job the next week. I was waiting for background check which took 6 months so I put up with a lot for 6 months and I was ready to go. The supervisor was so shocked. On my exit review (nothing was documented) I told them the Manager needed to learn how to talk to people and respect people. I’m sure this was never told to her. I’ve been on this job two years, love my work, but at least 6 of the above is telling me time to move on. The new Manager has only been here 4 months. She actually told me if I didn’t want to support the “department” I could look for another job. So I am.

Lauren Girardin

6 of 7? That’s a lot of signs there might be something amiss where you work! As you look for your new job, look for a place that wants to support you as much as they want your support. The best jobs have mutual benefit.

James Johnson

I have found that it is far better to not work for a government. Pay raises come more often in the private sector. Promotions occur more often in the private sector too.

Lauren Girardin

There are pros and cons for working in any sector—government, private sector, nonprofit sector, small business, you name it. The pay and promotion opportunity might be better in the private sector, but there are plenty of downsides.

I bet a lot of govies here on GovLoop could share many reasons that working for government is awesome.


James, I agree with you and that’s why it took me over 20 years to seek a government job. I enjoyed working for the private sector, learned a lot, not so sure about raises. If you had a good Manager you had good support. I was laid off twice from the private sector due to downsizing so I thought I would be “safe” in the government until I could retire. I will see.


This is so true, pragmatic, exceptionally HELPFUL…and HILARIOUS! …LOVE IT! I really needed this. Thank you, Lauren.


The Company put Guards at the front door at lunch time. When we came back to work we were escorted to remove our belongings, handed a check and pointed to the door….. That was a sign.


Yikes! I’ve seen that happen a few times. No fun to watch, and if no one understands why, everyone else is traumatized, too. It’s scary to feel like anyone could be next. Short of criminal activity or egregious misconduct, I think this should at the very least be conducted privately, at the end of the day. I feel for you.


I left my job of twenty eight years recently for 6 of 7 of your reasons. Working with children, there is always something to be done and the work is never boring!

I was raised to never leave a job unless I had a job to go to, and I never thought I would. But, the school system I worked for was trying to make me go backward instead of forward in the career progression I had in my head.

I told my last great boss perhaps I was meant to retire from the system I entered at the age of 20 with nothing but the faith in my heart I could do better. This was very difficult – especially for someone with control issues!

However, I retired on Sept 1, it took me a good month to get all of the insurance stuff straight, and I began a job in the private sector in mid October. I got a promotion in mid December and it is ever clear to me I worked for the old institution about two years too long!!

Life is short, and it is never too late to start following your dream. Heed the warning signs so aptly laid out above and paint your own parachute!

Lauren Girardin

I love that you had a vision of where you wanted your career to go, Carol, and that helped you understand how to take the next step. Life IS short! Thank you for sharing your story—I expect others will find a lot to learn from it.