“It’s not you, it’s me. Ok actually it’s you too. We just aren’t a match. The spark is gone. It’s over, I’m sorry.” Ever had to say this… to your job?

Every job has its ups and downs. But there are times when a job has simply run its course, and it’s important to know when to try to rekindle the love you once had, and when it’s time to give it the old heave-ho.  

I know I talk about our jobs like they are relationships, and that’s because they are. By all estimates, we’ll spend 1/3 of our lives at work. Therefore, like an actual relationship, it’s important to set boundaries, continuously re-evaluate where things are for you, and know when it’s time to move on. And once you decide to move on, I suggest cranking up a little Ariana Grande and beginning a new job search.

Conventional (olden-timey) wisdom talks about the importance of sticking things out no matter what. Our parents stayed at jobs for decades… often one job and one company for their entire careers. And there IS something to be said about being “ride or die” for your job. But there’s also something to be said for knowing it’s over and getting the heck outta dodge. I would know, because I have quit my share of jobs. As my mother used to say, “can’t nobody quit a job like Kelley can.” She was right. Quitting is an art… one I will explore in another post.

Right now I wanna talk to you about four signs that it’s time to spruce up the ole resume and move on.

You can’t identify any further opportunities for growth

Stagnation is a spirit killer. If you’re going to stick with a job, you need opportunities to learn new skills and find or create new projects. When you start a job you’re excited, and everything is new and filled with possibility. If you have a job in the professional caregiving field you know that every new day brings a different challenge, because the people you work with keep it fresh.

But there are times you lose that excitement. Perhaps there are no more opportunities for a promotion, or your job has no career path. What usually makes people quit isn’t the money (though that’s hugely important); it’s that they can’t identify any projects at work that get them excited. If you can’t think of any opportunities to get a skill, go to a great conference, or start an engaging project at your current job… it may be time to move on.

You took the job for the “wrong” reasons

We’ve all been there before. In a perfect world, we would always take a job that fills our soul. But the reality is many times we take a job because we have bills to pay. Having said that, taking a job for money doesn’t always mean you got it wrong and have to quit. As I’ve discussed here you can still find meaning in a job that you initially took for the cash. However, if time passes and still the only reason you’re in it is for the money, it might be time to start job hunting. Here’s the truth when it comes to taking a job just for the money. If it’s the only reason you took the job, then good news: there will be other jobs that will pay (most of them, actually). And you should leverage your current situation to find jobs that spark your interest AND pay decently.

You have poor relationships with management

I can’t stress this enough: who leads your organization and who manages you play a huge role in your job satisfaction. Like I said at the outset of this post, we spend 1/3 of our lives at work. Your relationship with your boss will have a big impact on whether that 1/3 of your life is enjoyable or a total nightmare.

If things are tense between you and management, that doesn’t mean you have to quit (I’ll be talking about how to create a good relationship with your boss in a future post). However, at some point, we all know when things are just hopeless with our leadership. Maybe we have been passed over for promotion or maybe our organization has cut back on opportunities or we are unable to secure basic necessities to do our work. Another major deal breaker would be if your boss is verbally abusive or does properly protect you as a worker. I can tell you about many times where my breaking point was when bosses put me in client situations that were dangerous and irresponsible. If these things continue to happen, it’s definitely time to leave.

Having toxic dynamics with your bosses is like being in a relationship with an abusive partner. You can stick it out and hope things it gets better, but at some point, it’s time to just leave.

You are in a toxic work environment

This one is non-negotiable. If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, it is time to actively job search, and give your notice. A toxic work environment can usher in burnout quickly and can make it hard to recover from. Trust me, I’ve worked in a few places like this. They did damage that has taken me years to heal from. Ever seen someone properly hit burnout? It ain’t pretty.

So what is a toxic work environment? The fancy definition based a study by Harder et al. (2014) is, “an environment that negatively impacts the viability of an organization.” They specify, “It is reasonable to conclude that an organization can be considered toxic if it is ineffective as well as destructive to its employees.” But in non-science-y terms, it’s what happens when you go to work every day and are surrounded by coworkers and bosses that are mean-spirited, unethical, discriminatory, and basically make your organization worthless. If you recognize your organization in any of the above, there are agencies that can investigate your claims and even provide compensation. However, most people in a toxic work environment are too afraid or too exhausted to file complaints. I know I was. In cases like that, the best thing you can do is quit at your earliest opportunity and move on.

So there you have it. Just like not every relationship is salvageable, not every job is worth sticking out. So think about this list when deciding to give a job another chance or say “thank you, next.”

What about you? What are your job deal breakers? Let me know below in the comments.