15 Telltale Signs it’s Time to Leave Your Job

Is it time to move on greener pastures?

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

A man leaving his job

There comes a time in our career when our job just stops being exciting, challenging or a happy place to be. This can be for all manner of reasons and will be different for each person, but if you’re feeling dissatisfaction towards your job, it might be time to look at what is causing this and consider making a change.

Leaving your job is a big transition, and it can be easier to ignore the signs that you’re unhappy than to make a change, telling yourself that it will get better, that it’s just a blip. Sometimes this will be the case, but it’s important to take the time to identify whether what you’re feeling is something that can be easily addressed or solved with time, or whether it’s a deeper problem and it’s time to search for another job.

Here we will look at some signs that are telling you it’s time to leave your job.

1. There’s a misalignment between you and your job

There is something so energizing and magical when you feel aligned with your passions and are doing something that you truly love. So many people don’t feel like this about their work, though, and stay in jobs that don’t light them up. Feeling like your job doesn’t match your passions, ethics or future vision can be a cause of great dissatisfaction.

2. You no longer feel challenged

Not feeling challenged in your role can be very demotivating. Humans have a natural capacity for growth, and when we don’t feel like we’re able to grow and learn new skills, we become complacent best, and depressed and dissatisfied at worst. If your job isn’t fueling your need to learn and develop, it might be time to move on to something that gives you a challenge to get stuck into.

3. There’s no opportunity for promotion

As an add-on to the point above, in addition to not feeling personally challenged and being able to use your skill set, you may have identified that there’s no room for growth within the company itself. If you’re at the top of your payscale and have no options for promotion, additional responsibilities, mentoring or transitioning within the company, this can severally affect your desire to go to work.

4. You’re not being compensated for the work you put in

In contrast to not feeling challenged, it could be the case that you have been asked to take on new challenges that you welcomed but that have now taken you above your pay grade and you don’t feel you are being compensated for. This can happen when a company makes cuts or redundancies or takes on new projects. Before you consider leaving, it’s worth talking to your manager to see if your position can be regraded so you can be properly compensated for the work you do.

5. You can’t see yourself working there in the long term

If you’re in a job that you saw as temporary and you have achieved all you set out to, consider making the change. Sometimes we get “stuck” in a job that we never intended to stay in. It can be easier to stay put if there’s nothing obvious pushing us to move on, but complacency can be a massive cause of dissatisfaction in life and can cause you to not do your best. There is no value in settling.

6. Your role has changed

When companies grow and develop, or when the opposite happens and a company makes staff cutbacks, roles can change as a result. While this can be a positive thing, if you’re left with tasks and responsibilities that don’t suit you or challenge you, or that burn you out, this can have a negative effect on job satisfaction and your happiness within the role.

7. Your company is facing challenges

Staff layoffs, pay freezes and the closure of offices are areas of concern and a sign that the organization you work for may be in trouble. While your company going through a low period isn’t necessarily a reason to jump ship, it’s worth keeping an eye on things if your company is underperforming, or there are rumors of financial difficulty.

8. The work environment is toxic

Sometimes, it’s nothing to do with the job itself that has you dreading to go to work, but rather the people that you work with. Being in a toxic work environment can cause unhappiness, a blow to confidence, and even physical symptoms due to the stress of the environment. An environment like this can be fueled by distrusting managers, poor communication, harassment and hostile colleagues, to name a few. A work environment like this can be the cause of so much discomfort, and it is a sign that you need to get out for the good of your health.

9. Your confidence has been affected

Staying in a job that isn’t good for you or isn’t challenging enough can gradually erode your confidence. If you stop feeling successful or if you feel undervalued, this can produce feelings that you aren’t good enough to move on. The moment that this feeling surfaces, the more you will find evidence to support it, compounding the problem. A lack of confidence keeps you in a position where you feel safe, even if you aren’t enjoying it.

10. You want a better work–life balance

Feeling stressed and overworked can have a considerable impact on our health, so it needs to be addressed. Work–life balance has become a big factor on people’s agenda these past few years. The pandemic has really highlighted to many what is missing from their jobs or what they really don’t need to put up with, and has seen more and more people leave their jobs in favor of flexible working and better working conditions, as a result.

If your job isn’t giving you time to enjoy life, you’re working longer hours than you signed up for, or your commute is too long, work–life balance needs to be a consideration.

11. You have tasted remote working

The pandemic gave us remote working, and for many, it has been life-changing. Going back to the office after seeing the benefits of working from home and all that brings has caused many people to reconsider their jobs and whether their current working arrangements are making them happy. If going back to the office is not something you’re willing to consider, it might be time to move on.

12. You’re stressed and burned out

Stress and burnout are a real problem and should not be something you consider as an essential part of your job. If your work is causing you so much stress that you’re having to take time off to recover, there needs to be some changes. Symptoms of burnout include stress, fatigue, mood changes, and insomnia. These can lead to even more serious conditions. Post-pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in burnout in the workplace with 59% of Millennials experiencing it in 2021.

13. Work makes you feel anxious

Sunday night blues are well known, and from time to time, we will all experience them, even if we love our jobs. However, this is vastly different from feeling so anxious or so much dread that the thought of work makes you feel ill. Feelings of physical sickness, lack of sleep, panic attacks or any other symptoms of anxiety and stress are not a normal part of working and a clear sign that you need to leave your current job.

14. You don’t like the person you are at work

Stress, burnout, toxic work relationships and being undervalued can affect how we behave and carry ourselves. If you find yourself getting irritable, frustrated, or even confrontational with colleagues, this is a sign that something isn’t right and that you need to do some personal work to find out what is causing these feelings.

15. You want to pursue other things

There may come a time in your life when the opportunity to take time out of work arises. Maybe to travel, undertake volunteer work, care for a relative or simply because you want to take a break. This could be a short break, or a need to reduce hours. Stepping away from the workplace can cause feelings of guilt because we are conditioned to a working culture that favors the 9–5. However, this isn’t necessarily what is best for us, and if you can afford to take time out and it feels right for you, this is totally valid.

Final thoughts

There are lots of reasons it might be time to move to pastures new. A job doesn’t have to be for life, and a new role can bring job satisfaction, new challenges and more flexibility. If any of these signs resonate with you, take some time to figure out whether there’s anything you can do in your current role to improve the situation. If not, it might be time to consider writing that resignation letter.

Job hunting can be daunting, but consider the positives and all that the move will bring rather than focusing on the short term. We spend an average of a third of our life at work, so enjoying it is vital to your wellbeing.


Originally published on 3 October 2017.