May 142013

Before You Say “I Quit

When your job isn’t going well, it’s tempting to daydream about performing your own rendition of the classic country song, “Take This Job and Shove It.” Of course, it’s never a good idea to act in haste. Before you say, “I quit!” there are five key questions you should ask yourself.

1. Can the situation be saved?

Consider whether your problems at work can be fixed or improved before you sever ties for good. Workplace expert Lynn TaylorExternal Site suggested making a “Solutions Document” in which you write your problems on one side, such as discord with a boss or co-worker—and possible solutions on the other, such as socializing outside of work to improve relations. Seeing the issues on paper helps to connect the dots when the situation seems dire.

2. Is there room for growth?

Sometimes growth possibilities exist even if they aren’t immediately obvious. There’s no harm in meeting with your boss to discuss your chances for future advancement. If he or she confirms your suspicion that you’re in a dead-end job, quitting will be that much easier—but first think outside of the box. Find out whether there are growth possibilities within your company by switching departments or relocating.

3. How is the job market?

Open positions are in great demand during times of high unemployment. Given how tight the job market is, it might be best to wait until it improves and more opportunities become available. Don’t think you can wait even in a bad job market? Remember, “It’s usually easier to find a job while you’re still employed,” said career coach Marie G. McIntyre, Ph. D.External Site So, unless your job is making you absolutely miserable, try searching for a new job before throwing in the towel.

4. Do you have job stability?

If your company is well established and successful, or if your position is one that is integral to your employer’s success, you might be better off staying where you are. One big reason for this is that there’s a good chance you won’t be able to find a position with as much stability as the one you left, and job stability is important. It can lead to vested retirement plans, increased benefits, and sometimes new opportunities down the line.

5. Are you ready to quit?

According to data from the Bureau of Labor StatisticsExternal Site, the average length of a job search by the unemployed for the full year 2011 was 10 weeks; however for nearly 27% of this population it took six months or longer to successfully find a job. And as of October 2012, almost 42% of unemployed peopleExternal Site had been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

If you can’t afford to be out of work for that long, and if you’re worried that freelancing won’t pay the bills, stay put. In the meantime, look for ways to improve your value, such as taking education courses or acquiring new job-related skills. Making yourself as attractive as possible to potential new employers will make you much more likely to find a job that puts you on the path to personal and professional growth.

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