You’ve already identified that something is off in your current role or current job. There may be a very obvious reason you’re unhappy, such as catty colleagues, or you may just have outgrown your role and are feeling stuck and want a new job. Or perhaps you actually like your current job but don't get along with your boss. Before making a snap decision to quit, take a bit of time to reflect on why you’re feeling bored, uninspired or depressed. While it's important to listen to your emotions, making a decision that's as large as deciding to quit and leave for a new job is something to take seriously.
We understand that it can be hard to figure out how to deal with your situation when you're telling yourself "I have my job," but here are a few things to consider. These are things you can think over quietly to yourself, or simply jot down a few notes in a journal to help you process everything and determine whether there are opportunities to improve your work situation or if it’s time to start looking for a better fit.
This may have been your dream job two years ago, but that initial exhilaration has long worn off and maybe your motivation levels are low. Tasks that originally seemed tough are now routine, and the job is starting to feel a bit monotonous.
Is there a promotion you can go after that would be not only a change in title but also a change in responsibilities? Is there an exciting project you can volunteer for within your existing structure? Can you redirect some strengths towards mentoring a more junior employee? Is there anything greater you can do or take on to make the job extra challenging and to engage you further?
Sometimes you can have a supportive manager or colleague in whom you may confide these feelings. Be cautious in how you communicate — and be prepared to suggest proactive solutions—not just raise the problem and dump it on his / her lap. The fact that you have ambitions and want to take on more responsibility can be viewed very positively but you must be careful to frame the topic with some amount of tact.
Even if your gut is telling you to start applying someplace else for new jobs, consider what additional skills you can pick up before you go, or who else on your team you can help grow into your position.
If the thing making you despise work is a poisonous environment, such as gossiping colleagues or a micromanaging boss, the situation may be much harder to remedy. Are you able to move your desk to somewhere else in the office or request a switch to a different team? Can you proactively attend a few more happy hours or ask teammates to lunch to build better social rapport? Have you had a sincere conversation with your manager about how you are feeling to see if there are ways to improve the situation?
If you hate your boss and like your work, consider the fact that many women in the Fairygodboss community often report higher job satisfaction levels in the same role across different employers and even different jobs. You can look proactively for jobs in another department, asking for the help of the HR team if you need to suggest internal roles quietly. You may need to have a high level of trust in whom you talk to at the workplace, especially if your manager or boss is territorial or you believe this information may be used against you in some way during your performance reviews or requests for greater pay.
Interpersonal dynamics can be some of the toughest things to navigate at an office, mainly when things are going poorly. On occasion, you will simply not click with a team as well as you hoped, and it’s okay to start thinking about making a change. However, consider how you can leave on the best terms possible or if there’s another team within your organization that may be a healthier fit without completely jumping ship. After all, you never know whether your new job will come with similar issues and collegial problems.
You may nonetheless love the hours and level of responsibility for your position, but a career in a completely different field intrigues you. Alternately, you may nonetheless love your field but can no longer keep up with the travel, pressure or requirements of your role. The next step? Start exploring other alternatives by learning from other specialists in your dream jobs.
Begin with your existing network. Reach out to people with titles and roles that intrigue you, and ask if they are willing to share more about their day-to-day over coffee. Ask questions such as what they love and don’t love about their position, and pay attention if these roles would be a good fit for you to work towards. They may even know of a few open roles or companies that are hiring!
If you can’t locate humans in your existing network, try Shapr, a completely free app for meeting nearby professionals who share your interests. Just set your interests to those that you hope to lean into, and start making valuable connections to learn from others in the field you’re exploring.
Occasionally, it's our expectations about how we should feel about our jobs that cause us to suffer more than we need to. After all, while some lucky humans truly love their roles, most of us simply do our work so we can bring home a paycheck and support ourselves and our families' basic needs. Fulfillment is something that we should absolutely aspire to in our everyday work, but sometimes it is not always meant to be in every single moment of every single job. Be clear on whether your expectations are reasonable, especially if you are early in your career.
Even if you are more senior in your career, ask yourself how your life and work intersect. Some of us work to live, and others live to work, while many of us fall somewhere in the middle. If you talk to any career coach, you may hear that it's a Platonic ideal to love your work, but it is also quite frankly, probably a luxury that not all of us can expect in every job we hold in our careers.
Maybe it is a promotion, more pay, or a workplace relocation that you're after. Maybe you want more job flexibility. Ensure that you don't just expect that these items will never be given to you. You may have to face up to having a tough conversation but, from time to time, those tough salary negotiations can actually lead to a raise or some changes. If you've already decided you may want to move on to another job, there is certainly no downside in asking for what you want, even if the request makes you uncomfortable.
Be sure to arm yourself with information about how best to have some of these conversations and assume that you can be successful in order to give yourself the best odds of having the most alternatives. No person wants to be painted into a corner and feel like they are being forced to quit, after all. It's always better to have multiple choices.
Some of us can quit without another job lined up, especially if we have savings or another family member's earnings to rely on. However, many of us with real financial constraints and demands on our budget that will require some time to change. Whether that's changing where you live or cutting back on extras, you may have to consider whether money allows you to change jobs. Golden handcuffs are real and they can prevent people from finding a job with greater job satisfaction.
Furthermore, depending on what kind of job and career change you're contemplating, many a career coach would tell you that while money doesn't bring you happiness and deep fulfillment, many of us also have our self-worth tied up in jobs considered to have status or that bring a lot of monetary rewards.
If matters aren’t dire or you're not dealing with a legally or morally unacceptable situation, you may want to consider the timing of any job change. Do you want to leave your bonus on the table? Do you want to switch jobs right before the holidays? Are you feeling like you hate the job because you've just come back from maternity leave and don't want to be anywhere but with your baby? What if you've just started a new job and you already hate it? Certain situations call for a bit more patience even if you feel very strongly that something is wrong. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here—just guidelines but it is good to consider whether you are making a decision prematurely or greater information could come to light before then.
Regardless of the reason why you are hoping to make a change, discover the main reasons you are unhappy before you start a job search. They will help you to find a better long-term fit and help you gain clarity about what you really want.
Mandy Menaker is the Head of PR and Brand Development at Shapr, a free networking app for meeting likeminded professionals near you. When not writing about networking, fitness, and travel (three very awesome things) she can be found cycling through Manhattan with her 6 lb Maltipoo catching a ride.