When to Quit a Job

Devashish Chakravarty        Print Edition: March 2012

Devashish Chakravarty
Jim Davis' hugely popular sarcastic ginger cat Garfield loathes Mondays. This running gag was part of his allure. We liked him for it. Now, why would a cat hate Mondays. It's not an unobvious answer. It's because a lot of people also hate Mondays and we can identify with this dislike.

The thought of another week at work evokes everything from dread to boredom for many. The misery of work, the boss, the pay, it's an endless list of pain. So, why do they continue? Why don't they quit? In fact, in such situations it is often the smart thing to do, but ensure to pick the right time to do so.

People continue even after a job becomes intolerable primarily because we're unwilling to take a risk (loss aversion). An employee might crave a more rewarding job but is often unwilling to risk losing one to pursue an opportunity.

In the same vein, it is difficult to accept a new role where, in return for better growth prospects, one has to take a pay cut or a lower designation. This means continuing with a dead-end job for which you have the skills rather than start lower in a new role where you have to earn less while mastering new skills.

Finally, there is the hypnotic comfort of routine and familiarity. A refusal to confront change means we seek the false safety of habit.

WHEN TO LEAVE
Unless there is a better offer in hand, there are two situations - either when there are indications that one will be fired or when one thinks the job is unsuitable.

An employee is fired either for business reasons or performance or ethical issues. In the former situation, common indicators that you need to watch out for include industry-wide losses, the firm going up for sale, your division's costs exceeding revenues or industry benchmarks and even new leadership.

The signals at the individual level include a reduction in responsibility, non-involvement in decision making, reduction in executive powers, frequent disagreements with key stakeholders, lack of response from HR, administration and finance, poor performance reviews and even reluctance on part of colleagues to work in your team. All these indicate that either the firm has lost confidence in your abilities or the business scenario has made retaining you or the position unviable.

Unless you can engineer a miraculous turnaround, it is time to work on your resume.

When not to quit a job
Remember, it is easier to find a job while you are still employed. Before you take the final step, check to confirm that you have interpreted the environmental cues correctly. Seek validation from trusted advisors or observe dissimilarities with others in similar positions or past experience.

MORE TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CAREER:Click Here


The second reason for quitting is when the job takes an immense emotional toll on you and the benefits do not compensate for it. The first signs are either constant mental exhaustion or a complete lack of enthusiasm. Maybe the role has lost meaning for you or you simply have a bad boss.

Other signals include indifference to events at the office, irrational envy at other's success and an instinctive need to avoid higher workload or responsibility. A sense of disconnect also arises from having no friends at work or a culture that does not cater to you as an individual.

Apart from emotional indicators, there could be practical issues, such as the need for better pay, lack of opportunities for growth on account of the company structure and an increase in responsibilities and working hours beyond what is challenging.

Finally, pay close attention to two red flags. First, heed your intuition. Do you feel constantly, inexplicably discomforted? Second, listen to your friends. They will know if you have been constantly ranting about your job. Examine what you can do to change things for the better. If you cannot, see if it is safe for you to quit.

After you make up your mind to change jobs, list out what you're seeking and what is undesirable in jobs that you want to scout for. Then put some effort into preparing your resume as well as networking for new opportunities.

Till the day you resign, seek out additional responsibilities and challenges to improve your skills and resume. Work at strengthening relationships and increasing goodwill till your last day so that you leave on a positive note and the doors open for future associations with colleagues and the firm.

Finally, and importantly, make sure there is more to your life than a job so that quitting does not feel like the end of the world.

The writer is CEO, Quetzal Verify, an HR solutions company started by four IIM-Ahmedabad graduates.Jim Davis' hugely popular sarcastic ginger cat Garfield loathes Mondays. This running gag was part of his allure. We liked him for it. Now, why would a cat hate Mondays. It's not an unobvious answer. It's because a lot of people also hate Mondays and we can identify with this dislike.

The thought of another week at work evokes everything from dread to boredom for many. The misery of work, the boss, the pay, it's an endless list of pain. So, why do they continue? Why don't they quit? In fact, in such situations it is often the smart thing to do, but ensure to pick the right time to do so.

People continue even after a job becomes intolerable primarily because we're unwilling to take a risk (loss aversion). An employee might crave a more rewarding job but is often unwilling to risk losing one to pursue an opportunity.

In the same vein, it is difficult to accept a new role where, in return for better growth prospects, one has to take a pay cut or a lower designation. This means continuing with a dead-end job for which you have the skills rather than start lower in a new role where you have to earn less while mastering new skills.

Finally, there is the hypnotic comfort of routine and familiarity. A refusal to confront change means we seek the false safety of habit.

WHEN TO LEAVE

Unless there is a better offer in hand, there are two situations - either when there are indications that one will be fired or when one thinks the job is unsuitable.

An employee is fired either for business reasons or performance or ethical issues. In the former situation, common indicators that you need to watch out for include industry-wide losses, the firm going up for sale, your division's costs exceeding revenues or industry benchmarks and even new leadership.

The signals at the individual level include a reduction in responsibility, non-involvement in decision making, reduction in executive powers, frequent disagreements with key stakeholders, lack of response from HR, administration and finance, poor performance reviews and even reluctance on part of colleagues to work in your team. All these indicate that either the firm has lost confidence in your abilities or the business scenario has made retaining you or the position unviable.

Unless you can engineer a miraculous turnaround, it is time to work on your resume.

Remember, it is easier to find a job while you are still employed. Before you take the final step, check to confirm that you have interpreted the environmental cues correctly. Seek validation from trusted advisors or observe dissimilarities with others in similar positions or past experience.

The second reason for quitting is when the job takes an immense emotional toll on you and the benefits do not compensate for it. The first signs are either constant mental exhaustion or a complete lack of enthusiasm. Maybe the role has lost meaning for you or you simply have a bad boss.

Other signals include indifference to events at the office, irrational envy at other's success and an instinctive need to avoid higher workload or responsibility. A sense of disconnect also arises from having no friends at work or a culture that does not cater to you as an individual.

Apart from emotional indicators, there could be practical issues, such as the need for better pay, lack of opportunities for growth on account of the company structure and an increase in responsibilities and working hours beyond what is challenging.

Finally, pay close attention to two red flags. First, heed your intuition. Do you feel constantly, inexplicably discomforted? Second, listen to your friends. They will know if you have been constantly ranting about your job. Examine what you can do to change things for the better. If you cannot, see if it is safe for you to quit (See When Not to Quit).

After you make up your mind to change jobs, list out what you're seeking and what is undesirable in jobs that you want to scout for. Then put some effort into preparing your resume as well as networking for new opportunities.

Till the day you resign, seek out additional responsibilities and challenges to improve your skills and resume. Work at strengthening relationships and increasing goodwill till your last day so that you leave on a positive note and the doors open for future associations with colleagues and the firm.

Finally, and importantly, make sure there is more to your life than a job so that quitting does not feel like the end of the world.

The writer is CEO, Quetzal Verify, an HR solutions company started by four IIM-Ahmedabad graduates.

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