Knowing When to Leave the Job

Okay- unpopular opinion here.  I was recently interviewed for a podcast and before that, a panel discussion on navigating obstacles the workplace.  When asked about my opinion on what people should know about work life, I said the following:

When the place where you work no longer values you, no longer aligns with your goals, and no longer serves a purpose in your life, it is okay to leave that place.

While I received some head nods and some applause, I realized that what I said was one of the hardest pieces of advice for people to act on. Some people are scared to leave a place of work for obvious reasons.  They are comfortable where they are.  They have a great work family (even if the company isn’t).  They make decent money.  They are used to the work schedule and have found a rhythm in work.

man wearing black headset
Photo by Ola Dapo on

These are all normal reasons to stay somewhere; however, there is a problem. If you are choosing to stay in a place that is causing you stress and discomfort for the reasons above, you’re not in a very good situation. You also might limit yourself, professionally. So, instead of thinking of reasons to stay, let’s look at what could happen if you leave.

  1. More money:  Yes- that’s right.  Often, employees gain in salary when they take a new position elsewhere.  While a wage increase does not happen in every industry, it does happen in many because the work experiences have increased. So consider reassessing your position and needs after two to five years on the job, and see if a switch to a new company is best for you.
  2. Confidence:  This may seem odd, but bear with me.  When you go back on the job market, you get to update your resume, which gives you the opportunity to see everything you have accomplished in the last 2-5 years. Snagged a major account?  Put it on the resume. Started a new program that saved a place money?  Put it on the resume. Brought in twelve million dollars in grants and fundraising?  Put it on the resume.  Often, preparing a resume is the only time we really see all that we’ve accomplished, which boosts confidence on the job market.
  3. Better responsibility (i.e. bigger title and $$): When you’ve been at a company for a while, sometimes supervisors and colleagues only see you for who you were when you were hired, not who you are.  This means that you might get passed over for great positions.  Going to a new company provides a chance to step into a better (sometimes bigger) role with more responsibility.
  4. Professional Development: Let’s admit it.  Some places have better development opportunities than others, and the only way to experience that is to move right along. Take stock of what you want in professional development and what another place might be able to offer. If you can get it at your current place, invest in yourself. If you can’t, consider looking into other places.
  5. Exposure to new places: Gotta love an opportunity that takes you to a new place, geographically. A new place could lead to new opportunities within work and communities. It could also lead to you making more friends and trying out things that you normally wouldn’t. I remember asking my father where he loved living. He said Portland, Oregon because it was the cleanest air he had ever breathed.  He also rode a bike down a hill with new friends (this was in the 1970s, and he was raised in Harlem, NY). He and my mother lived in the Midwest and West Coast before heading back to the East. Those experiences provided them with a different outlook on situations.
happy black woman laughing on street
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

If you feel as though you are in a rut or in a place where you have outgrown, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. Your current work friends know your number and you’ll create a new rhythm elsewhere. I promise.

Take care and keep leading,

Leave a Reply