In 2016, the average job tenure for a person in the United States was 4.2 years. It’s clear we no longer live in a society where you spend your entire career with the same company.
And that’s actually pretty great.
None of us will be happy in our careers every day of every year. If that’s what you’re looking for, good luck. But you should find satisfaction in the work you do regularly.
Because as nice as it is to talk about work/life balance, it’s also important to remember just how much of your life is actually spent at work (Spoiler alert: You’ll spend roughly 35% of your waking hours working). Shouldn’t you find contentment during that time?
Here are nine signs it might be time for a new job. They’re not hard-and-fast rules, but they are signals it’s time to consider a new position. Check the pulse on the rest of your life and explore how a new job might make that pulse stronger or weaker.
9 Signs You Should Quit Your Job
1) You’ve Been There More Than 5 Years (And Still Aren't Happy)
If you’ve been at your job for more than five years and are still totally happy, don’t panic. Instead, ask yourself if you’re still building skills, feeling challenged, and being rewarded accordingly. Getting comfortable at a job is one thing, getting complacent is another.
Powerhouse companies like Netflix actually believe job hopping is a good thing. Patty McCord, the former chief talent officer for Netflix, has said, “You build skills faster when changing companies because of the learning curve.”
According to entrepreneur and author Penelope Trunk, the learning curve flattens after about three years. Trunk believes that job hoppers learn faster, make better first impressions, and improve the bottom line quickly because they know they’ll be moving on within a matter of years.
Regardless of whether you’re pounding the pavement for a new job every five years, it’s important to routinely assess whether you’ve reached a growth ceiling in your current role.
2) You’ve Been There Less Than 5 Months
Starting a new job always comes with unique challenges. Maybe you’re not getting along with your boss as well as you thought you would. Or perhaps the daily tasks associated with your role are actually very different from what you discussed during your interview.
Before quitting a job you just started. Ask yourself three things:
Is there anything I can do to make this better?
Try talking to your boss about shifting your job responsibilities to be more in line with your expectations. Or take your boss to coffee and get to know them better.
How will I explain this short tenure to future employers?
Before you quit or start looking for a new job, decide how you’ll explain your short stint at X company to potential employers. Simply saying, “I didn’t like what I was doing” or “I didn’t get along well with my boss” might cause interviewers to pause.
Can and should you give the position more time?
Are you really sure that things won’t get better? Can you make it to the one-year mark so that you avoid some raised eyebrows on your resume in the future? Ask yourself if the challenges of leaving after a short time are worth the benefits of getting out of a negative work environment ASAP.
3) Your Job is Affecting Your Mood Outside of Work
A recent study found that about three quarters of “the weekend effect” (the increase of your happiness on the weekends) comes from the quality of your workplace.
How happy you are at your job is directly correlated to whether or not you view your boss as a partner and whether you believe you work in a trusting environment, according to the research. If you answer positively to both of those questions, your mid-week mood will more closely match your mood on the weekends.
This is another great area to regularly check in with friends and family about. Ask them if they notice you talking about work with increasing negativity, or if you’re coming home in a frustrated mood more weeks than not. Everyone has bad days, and even bad months, but if the majority of your days are ending under a cloud, it’s time to take control of your life and either adjust your attitude or your job.
4) You’re Not Learning
If you’re not learning from the people around you or solving new problems in your job, it may be time to look for something new.
In today’s fast-moving and competitive job market, it’s important to continually expand your skillset to advance in your career. If you’ve been solving the same problems for a few years, you’re likely not growing too much.
Share your frustrations with your manager and ask if there are ways you can take on more or different responsibilities within your team. Can you grow the headcount you manage or take over the new video initiative your team has been on the verge of implementing for years? If that answer is no or a vague “we’ll see in a few months,” it’s probably time to move on.
5) You’re Not Earning
In 2014, the average raise an employee could expect was 3% of their overall salary, and the actual raise they received was less than 1%. The average raise an employee received when taking a new job, however, was between 10% and 20%.
It’s important to track the monetary growth potential you have at your current company. Sure, you’re likely not going to receive a 20% raise every year you stay at your job. But if you’re not going to receive a similar raise over the course of three to four years, it might be time to look for something new or talk to your boss.
Talking about a raise can be awkward, so do your homework ahead of time to build confidence and a strong case for your argument. Research median salaries in your field on sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, or Salary.com, and adjust numbers for cost of living in your city and state, and for inflation.
6) You Don’t Align with Team or Company Culture
It happens. Maybe your company was acquired or you have a manager you don’t see eye to eye with. Regardless of the cause of the shift, it’s important that you align with the new direction. If you don’t, it can be easy to lose faith in your boss and your company, making it much harder to excel at your job.
If your new manager’s strategy includes buying email lists and spamming them like there’s no tomorrow, it may be time to look for a new position. Talk to your boss and tell them you’re having a difficult time understanding the reasons behind this new direction.
7) Your Company is Change Averse
Is your company tracking MQLs like it’s 1999? Are they unwilling to implement any fresh marketing strategies you suggest? It’s tough, but it might be time to hit the job boards.
A company that isn’t changing with or leading the industry is one that is likely to stunt your career development and maybe even your professional reputation. If you’re working for a team that refuses to evolve, it’s easy to fall behind on industry trends your peers (and future job competition) are becoming well versed in.
8) You’re Daydreaming About Your Side Hustle
Ah, the side hustle. Maybe you teach a couple of night classes at the local community college. Maybe you offer consulting advice to young entrepreneurs. Or perhaps you make soap out of wood bark in your backyard.
Whatever your side gig, it can be a great way to develop professionally and personally. But what happens when you can’t think about anything but your side hustle? What happens when your day job isn’t satisfying you enough?
This is another time to get really honest with yourself. Poll your close advisors, family, and friends, and get to the bottom of why you’re devoting so much brainpower to your hustle right now. Whether it’s a phase, a funk, or a change you need to make, it’s important that you have enough motivation to bring the best to your day job.
9) It’s Affecting Your Physical Health
Did you develop an ulcer from last year’s Black Friday marketing campaign? Have high blood pressure at 25? If work is so stressful that it’s having a physical manifestation in you, it’s definitely time to reevaluate whether your job -- or even a career in marketing -- is right for you.
No job is worth taking a long-term toll on your body. Start by talking to your boss about the cause of this stress. Ask about lightening your workload, vacation, or even shifting to a less taxing role on the team. If none of that’s possible, it might be time to look for a job that’s less demanding. Acknowledge what your body needs. Own it. And never be ashamed of it.
Leaving your job is a big deal. Make sure that it’s the right choice. Never act too quickly, and be honest with yourself about the motivation behind the move. But whenever possible, choose to work for a place the empowers, challenges, and supports you. That’s a job you’ll never regret taking.