Ask Yourself These 4 Questions Before You Quit Your Job

The first job I got out of college was a HORRIBLE experience. I quit after 2 weeks and it took me months to find my next job. During those months, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had been too hasty in leaving. So I researched when to leave a job. Here are a few questions I’ve learned to ask myself if leaving a position crosses my mind:

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1. What are the reasons I want to quit this job?

This one seems like such an obvious question. And oftentimes the first thing that comes to mind is something along the lines of “because it sucks!” Or “My boss is horrible.” But that’s actually the reason it’s important to ask yourself this question — to dig into the root cause(s) of you wanting to leave.

Dig deeper into the first reason that pops into your head by asking why… Then follow up with a couple more whys.

Here’s an example:

  • I want to quit because it sucks.
  • Why does it suck? Because I’m bored.
  • Why am I bored? Because I often have downtime or my tasks are monotonous.
  • Why does this upset me? Because I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to progress in my career if I don’t feel challenged.

Notice how my reasoning went from wanting to leave “because it sucks” to “I can’t grow”? This is a reasonable and relatable explanation for wanting to leave.

Pro tip: There are two ways to know if you’ve gotten to the root cause.
1. You can talk to someone about it without getting angry or worked up.
2. If a prospective employer asked you why you want to leave your current job, you wouldn’t be ashamed to share your reasoning.

Once you’ve defined the root cause of wanting to quit your job, it’s time to ask yourself…

2. If I quit this job, how will my problem be solved?

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Knowing what it will take to address your root cause will give you a clearer picture of what to look for in a new company.

For example, maybe you are quitting because you don’t get along with a coworker or two. So yes, maybe by quitting you won’t have to deal with person X or Y, but there will probably be another person like X and Y at another company. You’ll want to take it a step further by discovering what it would take for you to be happy.

Now that you know how your problem can be solved, you can ask yourself…

3. Can my problem be solved if I stay?

There’s a good chance the issue you are facing also exists at other companies. Attempt to fix the issue you are currently facing to lessen the chance of facing this same issue at a different company.

For example, many times employees want to leave because of the manager they have. Here’s the thing…managers can change! If you like the company you work for, who your coworkers are, and the tasks that you have, consider staying. Your manager may not always be your manager. You could change teams, get a promotion, your manager could change teams or get a promotion, or there could be a complete reorganization of your department.

Whether or not your reason for leaving has to do with the people, the culture, or your daily tasks, here’s one more question to ask.

4. Can I learn more from staying at this company in this role?

When you leave a company, there are two options – a lateral move or a promotion. If you are okay with a lateral move, this may be a sign that there is more to learn in your position. But, if you are looking for a promotion, take a look at job descriptions to learn if there are more skills you need to work on before applying.

If what you could learn is valuable to your next career move, it might be worthwhile to stay. For example, if you dislike your manager, but you are working on skills that will help you take the next step in your career, consider staying to get those skills under your belt.

However, if you feel that that you aren’t in a challenging enough role, consider looking at job descriptions for aspiring roles. Is your current position a place where you can learn the skills to qualify that role? Or do you feel confident in taking that next step? If so make like Nike and just do it.

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If after answering these questions, you still feel strongly that it is the best decision to quit, here are a couple of next steps:

  • Resignation checklist. There’s a proper way to leave a job and this checklist will help you do just that.
  • You’ll need to map out your career path. This free workbook will help you do just that.
  • Before you go to any interviews, read this blog post on how to form interview questions that will help you find the right company and role for you.
  • Stay tuned for next month’s Career blog post on the one thing you need to do to set yourself up for success at your new role.
    • Use the “Subscribe” form below if you’d like to be notified!

If you’ve decided you can still work to stay in your current role, check out this blog post on workplace communication.

Looking back on things, I have no doubt in my mind that it was a good decision to leave that first job. But all of this research helped me in my transitions between other roles. I hope they help you too! If you’ve thought of other questions to ask or have anything you’d like me to address, comment below or contact me here.


1 Comment

  1. Renee

    September 3, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Great article, I really enjoy your blog!
    I agree and think it is very important to do a lot of self reflection when it comes to career goals and work place unhappiness. You don’t want to be jumping from job to job a lot, but you also don’t want to be stuck somewhere if you are unhappy.

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