How do I know when it is time to leave my job?

Question: “How do I know when it is time to leave my job?”

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

In all honesty, only you can answer this question. That said, of course, I have some suggestions for how you can decide.

Most importantly, if your work is affecting your health, then you need to seriously consider finding a new job. The mental stress from working at a job that you strongly dislike (or with people or a boss you dislike) can have its effects on your health. That’s partly why unhappy workers call in sick so often — it’s not just not wanting to go into work as much as you generally are sicker.

If you find yourself living for Fridays and dreading Sunday nights, then that is another sign that it is time to find a new job. While we all love the weekend (and all our days off), we should not be living just for those few days when we are not at work. While our job will always be “work,” it should also be something we enjoy doing. If you dread work, then it’s time for a new job.

Another common situation is reaching a plateau at your current job and not seeing any chance of promotion within your current employer. While doing the same job for years is comforting — because you are an expert at performing it — it is also a waste of your talents, especially if you have ambitions to do more with your life or in your career. If you want to grow more in your career, then if you are in a job that is going nowhere, it probably is time to seek out a new job.

A situation I am surprisingly finding with baby boomers is finding yourself in a job you no longer really enjoy because you have been promoted out of your original field. Perhaps you were a scientist and loved the aspects of being in the lab but through the years you have been promoted into management and never really get to be in the lab anymore. You do not really hate your job or employer, but you just get very little satisfaction from it anymore. If this is the case for you, it might be time to refocus your career path and find a job that goes back to your career interests.

Finally, of course, if you sense the writing on the wall that management plans to make changes — that you might be fired or downsized in the near future — then it is most certainly time to look for a new job. It’s much better to be proactive and start your job-search while you have some leverage (and a job) than after you have gotten the pink slip or been downsized.

Some resources that might assist you in more depth about whether to leave your job — and how to do it:

This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.

See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.

Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage. Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

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