Knowing when it's the right time to quit your job

One can tell when they no longer add value to the company and exit. [iStockpoto]

When Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, bought Twitter, he fired the firm’s top executives in a move that many observers may have anticipated.

Among the first casualities were Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal and Chief Finance Officer Ned Segal. 

But what might have caught many by surprise was an announcement that up to 3,700 Twitter employees were at risk of losing their jobs in a mass restructuring aimed at cutting the costs at the social media giant. 

Unless they have options, most Twitter’s fired will add to a growing pile of the world’s unemployed.

It is unlikely many saw this coming and had thus secured jobs elsewhere. There is every chance they had sat cosily at Twitter and never expected threats on their jobs to materialise.

Since the pandemic, the world has faced turbulent economic times including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and here home a general election and drought have only worsened matters. 

This has seen many companies cut their workforce in a fight for survival.  

Yet as it were, experts say, every employee should gauge what their input to their employer is and also, where possible anticipate when their time at a firm is over and search for a new challenge.  

To be caught unprepared when the company needs to slash down its labour force and be a casualty could be catastrophic for one’s well-being.

Faith Kosilbet, a counselling psychologist, says that one can tell when they no longer add value to the company and that could be the ideal time to show themselves the door.

“You could find that you are making suggestions which are not being implemented or even taken seriously. This could be a shift from a situation where the company was always eager to hear from you and to take your suggestions,” she says.

It could also be that one has been reduced to doing duties that could be done by those with way less experience, which clearly indicates that the employer no longer has confidence in such an employee.

“This could also mean that you are no longer growing. When you feel this is not happening, perhaps it is time to find an environment in which you will develop and be more trusted by, and valuable to, the company,” she says.

Clear path

This is, however, dependent on someone’s ambitions. For people whose goals require a lot of effort to achieve and who have thus drawn out a clear path, it is easy to note when things are not working as they should. A shift in trajectory is easy to observe.

A comparison with the fortunes of colleagues, Ms Kosilbet says, should tell one if they are growing or if it is indeed time to exit and seek growth elsewhere. “You could have been at a company for so many years and realise that you have stagnated. Others are doing well and rising up the ranks while you remain at the same level or not many rungs above the one you were at when you joined,” she points out.

One of the most detrimental things that an employee could do is be too contented with their jobs to a point of being complacent, and failing to find ways for self-improvement.

This basically means that when the industry seeks other levels of skill sets, one is unable to fit in. One should also ensure they establish good professional networks that can give their careers a chance to blossom.

People in these networks can be used to inform when there’s a new job opening in the market. According to Ms Kosilbet, in the case that one is eventually laid off, they should not go home and sit waiting for another big job.

“Do not get caught at home doing nothing. You could seek entry-level jobs if you have no alternative. Try out things here and there. Once you have been in the cold too long, organisations will not want to hire you. They will prefer someone who has been in employment, someone greener,” she says.

When work starts feeling like a chore and does not bring one excitement, it could also be an indicator of burnout and one may need to shift.

“It may be time to quit your job when you’re no longer motivated to complete your daily tasks, feel overworked or burnt out, or want to move beyond your current position into a more advanced one. These are a few signs that it may be time to quit your job and get a better one that more effectively meets your needs,” says Coursera, a US-based massive open online course provider.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) also says that repeated activity, to the point it becomes mundane, should trigger one to consider moving on.

“At some point, everything we do too consistently ceases to be a source of growth. When you notice a source of purpose is no longer helping you grow, look to reinvention or some other change,” advises HBR in an article. 

HBR says that one may also reach the pinnacle of their career and lack something else to aim for.

This should inspire the search for a more taxing assignment.  “Sometimes, you may lack growth in your current position because there’s nothing left to aspire to. Sometimes we simply accomplish what we set out to achieve and are ready to move on to new challenges.” 

A job that constantly makes one abandon their core values is also a red flag and should be shunned at all costs, adds HBR. “When something you look to for purpose begins pulling you further from it and from your values, you need to let it go. Never let a professional environment change you for the worse — particularly on matters of character.”

General dislike

An article by Forbes says that once a person feels a general dislike for people they work with, it is a clear indicator they are tired and should exit.

It also says that when someone can no longer share the company ethos and is not motivated to work to help the company achieve its goals, it is probably the twilight of a career in that environment. “Whatever the issue, you’re morally misaligned with your employer, and it’s an uncomfortable workplace setting,” says the Forbes article. 

Disability to maintain a good work-life balance should also tell an employee to quit. “When you find that you’re spending less time with your family because of work, or cannot commit the necessary time to your job, you should consider looking elsewhere,” it says.

Knowing when to leave, and leaving, is a key aspect of anyone’s career.

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