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What are signs that you should quit your job?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

I'm curious, do you have experience quitting a job? What was it that made you realize it was the right choice, and what might be something you're better off pushing through with?

I have no interest in quitting my current job, for the record. 😝

Discussion (44)

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jennifer profile image
Jennifer Konikowski

I have a ton of experience with this! Past signs that I should quit my job:

  • Lots of higher ups are leaving: If you see a lot of upper-level managers and VPs leave, there's probably something they know that you don't. You could weather whatever storm is coming but use your best judgment. If you are at the bottom, you'll probably be cut.
  • Unsupportive boss: if you are at a large company, move to another team. If there is only one boss you can have and they are negative and shoot you down, you'll probably be more successful elsewhere. I had a boss that bragged about "managing [me] out" even though my coworkers were happy with my work.
  • Toxic environment: you know it when you see it. Always different. Depending on how toxic, burn a bridge or two. Maybe not on your first gig, but if you have plenty of references and the environment is bad enough (I was crying almost every night), just leave.
  • Lack of growth: and sometimes it's nothing big, you just aren't growing the way you want to. Also, a valid reason to leave!
royallthefourth profile image
Royall Spence

When management starts overriding technical decisions made by the technical staff. It inevitably leads to bad software and shows a total disrespect for people who make software.

vedrantrebovic profile image
  • Being manipulated instead of being led: When your boss is manipulating you to get the job done, instead leading you, you're in the wrong place. Odd thing is that everyone want to hire smartest developers out there, but at the same time some of them try to manipulate these same smart developers like they are chimps. From my experience this includes withholding information about the project and long term goals, giving false deadlines to speed things up, meddling with personal relationships (turning developers against each other) and in general not being honest with you and your colleagues. One of the weirdest things I experienced is when they try to affect actual implementation (without any programming knowledge) with specs manipulation.
    Steve Jobs once said:
    It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.
    You shouldn't hire smart people to manipulate them. It's waste of time for everyone.

  • Blame culture: When bad things happen if your boss asks "Who's fault is this?" instead of "Who can fix this?", you should consider quitting. It's needless to say it's impossible to do anything creative or inspiring in these places.

  • Brown nose syndrome: If it makes it easier to get promoted or it makes your everyday at work easier by kissing your bosses ass, you're again in the wrong place. You will never reach your full potential there, and probably become very frustrated.

  • Inconclusive reward system (or not having one): For example promotions and bonuses are very different across teams, even though there are no obvious reasons for that. Either you're not being recognized, or not being valued enough. Also if your bonuses consist of praises and thank you it's time to move on.

  • Incompetent people evaluate your work: If your code is being evaluated in weird ways it's time to move on. My experience include: counting how many bugs each developer made and then reducing their salaries by some calculation based on number of bugs, using SCRUM backlog as time and attendance system.

cjm4189 profile image

1) if you are miserable going to work every day 2) the environment is a bad fit for you personally 3) toxic environments

fergek profile image
Fernando Gekdyszman

Pay attention on how frequently you get into LinkedIn. A good sign is when that rate goes up.

Losing the option of thinking and making decisions could be another sign.

Working in projects you either don't enjoy or you don't consider they add value to your career.

soundstruck profile image
Dina Gathe
  • apathy and mediocrity become accepted norms, things that should be flashing alarms aren't.
  • management frequently sabotages work/deadlines so that there can be no accountability (allowing apathy and low morale to set in)
  • talented people come and go, average/below-average people are the ones with longevity
  • management ignoring or downplaying bad signs (slow/no growth, customer complaints, etc.)
  • when you realize you're living in a Dilbert cartoon ;-P
lesingedotorg profile image
Dave Whyte

"talented people come and go, average/below-average people are the ones with longevity" - I've had that particular alarm go off a couple of times

soundstruck profile image
Dina Gathe

Yes, it's good to pay attention to what type of behavior actually gets rewarded (hint: it's often NOT what's stated in the official corporate values statement).

doug profile image

Yes, I used to have Dilbert comics printed by my desk. After I left I realise I was telling myself subliminally that I was working in an ongoing joke!
Best career decision ever.

theminshew profile image
Michael Minshew

Yeeeesssss dilbert cartoon environment == gtho!!!

rubynista profile image
Theresa Luu

My signs include:

  • growth plateauing

  • teams have stopped celebrating each their own wins and the wins of other teams (morale is tanking)

  • management suggestions of building skills in a particular area you have no interest in growing in

  • lack of respect for time. Meetings are routinely missed or canceled. Extra hours are expected while personal time is scoffed at.

By the time these indicators ring true, my frustration levels are on high alert. What is important when considering these things for me is to base my decisions on what I am moving towards and not what I'm moving away from. It's easy to get into an "I need to GTFO"-mode but I take my time so I am not rushing into a similar situation at my next gig.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

teams have stopped celebrating each their own wins and the wins of other teams

That seems like a great indicator! Definitely keeping this in mind as a leader.

antoinette0x53 profile image
Antoinette Maria

I also know I don't want to quit my current job, but I think you should quit when you begin to dread going into work. If it starts to feel like your job is more of a chore and a burden, then leave. If you start to notice that your mental and physical health are being negatively impacted as a direct result of on-the-job stress then leave. There are far to many companies out there that know how to treat their employees to just sit and endure toxic environments.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

When you've recognized you're in a toxic culture and you will be leaving. What's the game plan at that point? How do you set yourself up to make the current situation work best for your future?

antoinette0x53 profile image
Antoinette Maria

I tend to err on the side of burning as few bridges as possible, but it really depends on the situation and why it's toxic. In my particular case, I didn't quit my job, but moved to a different team within the same company. I think that was only possible because I continued to do good work and tuned out the trigger to the toxic situation (a person and their comments on gender and masculinity).

paulleclercq profile image
Paul Leclercq

I once quit because I didn't like where I would have gone (less and less technical stuffs) if I had continued doing it, even though the team was, in general, great. 2 years after I am really glad I made this choice as I really enjoy, more and more, learning about computer science fundamentals (thanks to the great articles published on!) to be able to understand how works (data-intensive AKA big data :p) frameworks under the hood.

Also, have you ever encountered the annoying "don't tell to anybody" policy when you talk to your manager about it? Especially in France, where we have almost all the time a 3-months notice for engineers.

rubynista profile image
Theresa Luu

You have to give a 3-month's notice to quit in France?

paulleclercq profile image
Paul Leclercq

It depends on your company policy, the most of the time is 3 months for engineers, sometimes is 1 month.

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rubynista profile image
Theresa Luu

That must be tough trying to keep productivity up if you know for sure you are going to leave for such a long duration.

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paulleclercq profile image
Paul Leclercq

The main idea is to respect your colleagues by getting sure that everything you know is written down in a documentation and train your substitute.

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rubynista profile image
Theresa Luu

ah, I'm impressed and am at awe at that gesture.

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agazaboklicka profile image
Aga Zaboklicka

I think 3-months notice is pretty common in Europe. The same goes for Germany. In Poland, where I leave we have 1-month notice unlesss we have more than 3 years experience. It's probably due to training of people who are going to move into your place or for the employer to find someone to take your place...

drigoalencar_41 profile image
Rodrigo Alencar

Some place at least here in Brazil ask 1 year without even work with same tec

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

Various reasons I've quit previous jobs/teams are

  1. Not being challenged enough

  2. Company morals became more and more corrupt, environment became cliquey and un-welcoming.

  3. Once a safety concern forced me to quickly find another team

  4. No manager support to grow and expand and reach my career goals

  5. Continually being lied to about being able to take time off/ WFH when I needed to / BENEFITS / PAYDAY. Once my paycheck was a week late. My loan payments were not happy.

I think that's all the big things. My first job I was on 4 teams in under 2 years, and my second job I only lasted a year. Not a good track record thus far. lol.

dev_anna profile image

Number 1) is hitting me hard at the moment. But I've only been there for 6 months! I'm not sure what to do about this situation at the moment, my CV would look bad.

kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett 

First thing would be to talk to your manager and see if there’s anything you can do or another team that would be a better fit.

aniketsmk profile image
Aniket Kadam

Verbal abuse (to anyone), Delaying an agreed upon thing to the point of not doing it.
Mismanagement, passing blame. Underpaying. Sexism.
Gaslighting. Yes, I'm amazed that I even had to add this here, but it's very common for businesses to behave like abusive spouses who should be in jail.

ajaykarwal profile image
Ajay Karwal

For me its all about Culture and Passion.

You work on average 40 hours per week so you want to spend that time doing something you're passionate about and be surrounded by a motivating culture.

As a front-end dev, I'm passionate about learning new skills, following industry news and making a difference in people's experiences. I couldn't work in a team where the people around me don't share the same enthusiasm about their chosen profession and treat their job as just a means to pay the bills.

For many people a job is just a job and come 5:30pm they don't give a damn about whether they've grown as a person that day or not, but for me, every day where I didn't take a step forward in my career I may as well have taken a step backwards.

Don't become a developer if you don't have a passion for developing.

vijayvaradan profile image
Vijay Varadan

I usually work at a place because of good technical leadership. Most places have enough interesting things to work on, but solid technical leadership is hard to find. I leave when good technical leaders and colleagues leave.

antero_nu profile image
Antero Karki

If I think about leaving and immediately feel better and calmer, that's a sign for me.

What I do then is try to figure out why I feel like that and see if it can't be fixed in another way.

I usually do that by thinking about my reasons for staying vs leaving, once I even did it on a sheet of paper where I drew 3 columns with the headlines Reasons for Staying, Concerns, and Reasons for Leaving (the order in which you write them can be an indicator too.) If I have nothing in Reasons for Leaving and a manageable number in Concerns I stay and try to work them out. If I have even one thing in Reasons for Leaving I start keeping my eyes open for new opportunities. If I have more I do it more urgently.

The reasons can be anything e.g. not liking coworkers (never had that but would be a reason for leaving for me), nice offices, bad code and we're not fixing it, stagnating as a developer, not enough resources to develop good software etc.

I think it's important also to think about why things turned out the way they did. Was there a reason why we didn't do things right? Why didn't I like the coworkers? Could I have communicated better or differently? What will I do differently on my next job? Also, what did I do well? What have I learned?

isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman

I once heard a quote that said, in effect:

Would you quit your job if you won the lottery? Then you should quit your job.

I can't figure out who said it (might've been Peter Thiel? My Google skills are failing me here) but for people who have options--and technical people usually do--it's a decent starting point for the long and difficult decision-making process around leaving a job.

lietux profile image
Janne "Lietu" Enberg

Many potential signs:

  • You find yourself finding excuses to not go to work, to take days off, or just overall don't like going to work.

  • If you constantly feel like the smartest guy in the room - i.e. you don't anymore learn from the others. Your own progress will be stunted if you allow yourself in a situation like that.

  • If you're talented enough to build applications from the ground up yourself, but the company doesn't reward you highly enough - you can potentially get a good amount of shares if you join an early stage startup

  • If you work on the same kind of problems all the time - being an expert on one subject might be fine for some, but I generally recommend against it as it also means that when that one technology expires you will be useless

  • If the company seems to be falling apart - leadership, core team members are leaving or being fired

  • Poor team morale for an extended period of time - if nobody cares to fix the morale issues that's not a healthy sign, find a more motivated team in another company

  • Culture of micromanagement - being told exactly how to spend every hour of every day, and tracking your work with Scrum poker velocity etc. useless junk intended only to make old fashioned managers feel better

  • Having little to no ability to impact your own work - if you can't give feedback, feature suggestions, etc. or nobody listens to your ideas

  • If you're being paid unfairly (other people make more without a good reason) or overall not compensated well enough (other companies pay much more)

Lots of things along that theme can be good triggers to decide to leave a company.

Anyway, never just quit - start looking for other jobs, interview for as long as it takes to find the perfect next step for you, and only after you've signed the contract to start at the new place do you quit.

nerfologist profile image
Marco Arduini

Possible points from my experience:

  • Lack of confidence in boss technical and management skills. Incompetent bosses will trust the most convincing people, not necessarily the best workers.
  • Lack of confidence in the boss human skills. I once saw my boss at the time requesting that a disabled coworker undergo a test to verify wether he was fit for the job. Needless to say this switched on a huge red light for me, and I ended up quitting the job shortly after.
  • Lack of cultural fit with coworkers and environment. The feeling that you wouldn't want to have a beer with any of your coworkers.
  • Boring, repetitive uninteresting work. Long and boring days waiting for something to happen (happened to me as I was working in a bank).
  • Lack of recognition. Project success routinely credited only to part of the team (usually analysis/design).
itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla) • Edited

You should always be operating at the edge of your competence. When that stops, move on in some way.

  • Work getting easy? Take on a side project or see if you want work in a different part of the stack of your current project.

  • Already know the whole stack? See if a new project is spinning up or another one could use your skills better and help you grow. Everyone's replaceable; your old project will be fine.

I'm still in my first post-college job, but I've never been bored for too long since I've moved around a lot. Now that I've been on a project for 2 years, I'm using tuition assistance to go to grad school. I'd rather not hop jobs if I don't have to, so I'm trying to make this work for me.

Always trying to get better one way or another.

rahulpr27 profile image
  1. When your boss thinks that you will keeping doing the great job with unnoticeable increment in salary. :P

  2. when work became boring for you in your current environment because of improper management.

  3. and you are spending more than 10 hours for your job everyday.

marthawilson710 profile image
Martha Wilson

Yes, I used to have Dilbert comics printed by my desk. After I left I realise I was telling myself subliminally that I was working in an ongoing joke!
survival games

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

I have a few personal examples
@ they are late with payments
@ the startup is going to shutdown soon
@ when you need to convince your peers the value of automatic testing

The rest of the reasons were already covered.

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez

1) When you feel you don't have anyone you can look up to or respect.
2) When the average employee lasts a few months or around 1 year.
3) When you feel you won't even be missed if you leave.
4) When you start having fights instead of meetings (or others yelling at each other over the phone).
5) When the HIPPOs have the last word.

HiPPO: Highest Paid Person Opinion

rapidnerd profile image
George Marr

I've left a couple, the signs I found were

1) Not being happy in the place that I worked
2) Colleagues not getting along
3) Achievements the company/team had made were just brushed off (even if it were large ones)
4) Management not listening to employees
5) Generally wanting to leave

After I saw these signs I just handed in my letter of resignation and left. I knew that leaving the company would be good for me because it was affecting my personal life. I wrote a bit more about it here

lisafehr profile image
Lisa Fehr

High stress, low rewards. Sometimes you don't realize it was a great idea until after you quit. It could still be a great team and company as a whole. I was in fight mode all the time and ignored my health.

amirbhs profile image
Amir Khan

Hey Ben,

Right now I am Serving Notice Period in my company and basically there are two reasons one of them is obvious hike % other is important from career point of view.

The Project is in Maintenance mode so there is hardly any work no challenges nothing so I am not learning anything neither coding much.

So I think if the same scenario is with you only then quit or else just continue because it seems you are enjoying.

doug profile image

That's such a shame. I hold out that maintenance should be a rich time for R&D, but if not then leaving is the right thing.

jpterracina profile image
John Terracina

Considering it since I am starting to get feedback that amounts to "you are really technically skilled so we expect you to perform miracles and we aren't seeing enough miracles".