When to Quit Your Job or Change Careers


I need to change the way I think about my career.  If the industry experts are correct, my approach to managing my career is now outdated.  I’ve only held two jobs since college and career advisors are now saying that the trend has moved towards an average of four years per position.  This is down from 8 years just 5 years ago. Research is showing a decrease in employer loyalty as a result of constant layoffs, pay freezes and an overall feeling of anxiety and dissatisfaction.  As a result, a 2010 Deloitte study concludes that as many as 30% of employees will actively seek new jobs once the economy improves.

Job changes tend to be vertical while career changes are often lateral (most likely due to the person having less experience in the newly chosen field). This data seems to holds true when I look at the job history of my college classmates as well as those in my professional network. Penelope Trunk offers interesting advice on how to manage your career in 2012.

“Sara Horowitz, of the Atlantic, suggests that the new jobs will be independent, short-term and maybe even coffee-shop based. Others, like Cathy Benko at Deloitte, suggest there will be a series of lateral moves that will somehow become respectable. Anya Kamenetz, of Fast Company, says this will look like continuous, back-to-back career change, so that job hopping begins to look tame and totally normal.

At any rate, you can’t get through the second part of your career doing the work you did in the first part. So there is not time to rest in a safe spot for your career.

The other reason you only get 15 years is that your salary tops out in your late 30s. (Actually, age 35 for women and 40 for men.) Statistically speaking, you are extremely unlikely to earn more than you are earning at that age.”


When we start to consider job changes, our minds usually wander towards possible career changes as well.  We wonder if the issue is our current job, our career choice, our work environment or simply the fact that our needs or interests have changed.  It’s difficult to separate these factors.  Penelope Trunk offers some valuable advice in this area:

“Since you know you are going to have multiple careers in your life, changing is not high stakes. Don’t make a huge deal about it and don’t spend five years searching your soul. Just start testing the waters — put a toe in the current to see how it feels. Then take a leap, and if you don’t like where you land, reframe your landing pad as just a stepping-stone. And start putting your foot in the water again.

But first, before you do any of this, make sure it’s time for you to change what you’re doing.

Here are some bad reasons to switch careers:

1. You hate your boss. (Switch jobs, not careers.)

2. You want more prestige. (Get a therapist — you’re having a confidence crisis, not a career crisis.)

3. You want to meet new people. (Try going to a bar, or Club Med. What you really want is to get a life. Pick up a hobby.)

Here are some good reasons to switch careers:

1. You want a role that is more creative, more analytic or more management-oriented.

2. You want to live in a location that does not accommodate your current career.

3. You want more flexibility or fewer hours.”


There’s another great article written by which lists the top ten reasons to quit your job from a human resources perspective.  These are the most severe of situations HR experts deem as the most difficult or even impossible to solve, and signs that you should move on to a new job:

1. Your company  is experiencing a downward spiral, losing customers, losing money, and rumors of possible closure, bankruptcy and failure prevail.

2. Your relationship with your manager is damaged beyond repair.

3. Your life situation has changed. Perhaps you have married or had a baby, and the salary and benefits no longer support your life needs.

4. Your values are at odds with the corporate culture.

5. You’ve stopped having fun and enjoying your job.

6. Your company is ethically challenged.

7. For whatever reason, you have behaved in ways that are considered improper at work.

8. You’ve burned your bridges with your co-workers.

9. Your stress level is so high at work that it is affecting your physical or mental health and your relationships with your friends and family.

10. And the top ten reason for leaving your current miserable job – you are unchallenged, need more responsibility, and seek opportunities that just don’t exist for you in your current organization.



Categories: Professional Development

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