Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

20 Signs You Should Quit Your Job

Getty Images
Getty Images

Most people, including career experts, will advise that if you’re looking for signs to quit your job, you probably should. After all, that feeling usually stems from somewhere—be it a string of unhealthy interactions, a lack of work-life balance, or an inciting incident that keeps nagging at you, and making you think, “Is it time for me to get the heck out of here?”

But for those in search of clearer cut signals or a voice of permission that says “Yes, that’s a reason to leave,” here is a list of signs it's time to quit your job.

1. Your intuition is screaming at you to leave

Tangible signs that you should quit (like many of the ones listed below) are the easiest to identify and act on. But the itch to leave your job can come from a gut feeling too, and that’s usually not something to ignore.

“I personally operate off of intuition,” says Erin McGoff, founder of AdviceWithErin. “So I believe that people should always go with their gut. If you’re consistently considering leaving your job, i.e. you’ve been thinking about it for weeks or more, that’s a pretty strong signal.”

2. You aren’t learning and growing

Another telltale sign of your imminent departure should be when you’ve stopped learning and growing in your current position.

“I see this all the time, and it’s usually when people are comfortable. They think, 'Why would I leave? Nothing’s happening, but I’m comfortable here,'” says career coach Christian Lovell, founder of Careers By Chris. “That’s a good sign to move on. If you’re not being challenged or learning new skills, the job market is going to fly past you. Other people will continue growing, and when you look for a new job in the future, it’s going to be more difficult.”

3. Your job is unstable

Maybe you aren’t learning or growing a ton in your current role, but your job is stable. That can be a good reason to stay—and on the flip side, instability can be a smart reason to leave.

“Some people aren’t craving growth in their job, they crave stability,” says Sam DeMase, a career coach and founder of A Power Mood. “And that’s perfectly acceptable. We work to live, we don’t live to work.” That said, if you prioritize a sense of security and aren't feeling it in your current job, it might be time to make moves.

4. You know you could be earning more

Money isn’t the only factor in keeping or leaving a job, but if you aren’t making at least the going market rate for your role or level of expertise, you may want to look for greener pastures.

“There’s a saying: You’re either learning or you’re earning, and ideally you have both,” McGoff says. “If you’re not learning anything but you’re earning a bunch of money, that’s OK! You just want to be paid what you’re worth.”

Read more: Get the Salary You Deserve: 4 Steps to Figuring Out What You're Really Worth

5. You found a better opportunity

One of the clearest signs that it's time to quit your job is finding (and securing) a better opportunity. Any guilt you feel for leaving—which is all in your head, by the way—shouldn’t stand in the way of pursuing a new job. Whether or not your manager or coworkers share the same excitement for your new gig is irrelevant. As McGoff says, “anytime there’s a better opportunity, take it!”

6. It’s destroying your mental health

“When your mental health starts to be impacted, and all your therapy sessions are about work, those are huge signs to quit your job,” says DeMase. McGoff and Lovell echo this sentiment—no job is worth sacrificing your mental health, plain and simple.

Read more: Dealing With Anxiety: What's Normal and What's Not

7. It’s destroying your physical health

On a similar note, if your physical health is worsening because of your job, it’s time to go. A healthy, normal job with a reasonable schedule means you should have time for adequate sleep, exercise, and time off. “You don’t want to sacrifice your health or your well-being for a company that’s going to replace you when you’re gone,” Lovell says.

8. You’ve repeatedly asked for something, and are being ignored

“If you’ve asked for something over and over again, whether it’s something minor like a change to your workflow, or something more significant like a raise or title promotion, but you haven’t received it, that’s a time to cut the cord,” McGoff says.

Assuming you’ve approached your requests with clear communication and open conversation, and you’re doing your job well, they should be treated with respect. A good employer would give you a path to get where you want to be, not shut you down.

9. You are constantly met with “nos”

Can I take these days off? No. Can I be considered for a raise? No. Can I work on this other project? No. Can I leave a little early today for a doctor’s appointment? No.

When you are consistently being met with rejection at work, and it feels like your manager is determined to shut down every single question and request you have…you can do better elsewhere.

10. You don’t have a good reason to stay

Spending years at one company can lead to a feeling of inertia. We think it’s easier to keep moving with the current than to stop, stand up, and consider swimming upstream. But if that’s your only reason to stay, you might want to reassess and poke around the job boards.

“I’ve always heard that you should have at least one of the following three reasons to stay at a job: the money is good, you’re learning, or there’s someone worth staying for,” says Jerry Lee, COO of Wonsulting. “If you have one, you have an OK job. If you have two, you have a great job, if you have all three, it’s a near-perfect job. If you don't have any, you can do better somewhere else.”

11. You have an abusive boss or snarky coworkers

One of the most obvious signs on this list—an unsustainable relationship with your boss, coworkers, or work environment. Maybe the company culture is gossipy or cliquey, or maybe there’s clear sexism, racism, or nepotism at play. Whatever the situation, it’s best to bid adieu.

Read more: 9 Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment—and What to Do About It

12. Your boss doesn’t respond to feedback

Not everyone is meant to be a manager, but at some companies, the only way to move up is to manage others. This can lead to lackluster bosses who don’t take feedback well and harbor resentment. “If you have tried to communicate with your boss about challenges you’re having with their leadership style, and they are not receptive to that, you should leave,” DeMase says.

13. You can’t stand the work environment

For people who need calm, quiet environments to be productive, an open floor plan can be a nightmare. And for people whose work thrives in a collaborative, chatty environment, being siloed in the office may be miserable. Unless you’re a founder, you probably didn’t have a say about the design workplace layout, but if there’s nowhere in the office that appeals to you and you can’t work from home, that’s reason enough to leave.

14. You don’t have set work hours

For all intents and purposes, a job is a transaction. You get paid to do work for a certain number of hours. In other words, you should not be getting messages outside of these times. You should not be going home and continuing to work late into the night. You should not be answering phone calls early in the morning from your boss, or working while you are on a vacation.

If your responsibilities extend beyond the hours you’re getting paid for, you should hear sirens going off in your head. Get out.

15. The negatives of the job follow you outside of work

Jobs can be stressful and provoke anxiety—but if that follows you home and keeps you up at night, that’s a problem. “When you find yourself being agitated outside of work, about work, you should leave,” McGoff says. “If you’re at a soccer game with your kid on a Saturday and you’re thinking about something that happened at work, or you have work anxiety that’s seeping over into your personal life…time to go.”

16. Your life revolves around your job

Jobs that require you to bend your entire life into circles and squares are not worth having. That said, it’s important to be realistic, and realize that every job has its flaws.

“You have to decide what you’re willing to deal with,” says Lee. “Every job has moments when it’s bad, and every job will have parts that suck—it happens at the C-suite level all the way down to the interns. Having that level of understanding is important because then you can say ‘I’m okay with this amount of my job being unpleasant,’ and if it exceeds that threshold, that can be a sign to leave.”

Ask yourself, as McGoff puts it, “Are you really happy with your life?”

17. You’ve lost interest in your hobbies

We all have limited energy and capacity, and your job is probably not the place you want to expend all of it. Losing interest in your hobbies and other activities that bring you joy is an obvious sign that your mental health needs attention. Work should not rob you of happiness from other areas of your life.

Read more: 50 Fun and Fulfilling Things to Do After Work

18. You’re burned out

Burnout is real, and it can last a long, long time. Being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated takes a toll, and if this job keeps extracting without giving back, it’s no wonder why you’re drained.

“I’ve been in a place where I had a difficult time even drafting emails because I was so stressed out and burnt out,” Lovell says. “Burning the candle at both ends is a sign you should look for something else.”

19. You have ethical issues with your company’s views

For many people, having work that aligns with their values and ethics is non-negotiable.

“Anytime you have an ethical, moral, or value-based issue with your company or the work you’re doing, that’s a huge red flag,” adds Lovell.

Making any of these sorts of compromises for your job is a sign to get out, as you should never be made to feel uncomfortable or put in an awkward position at work.

20. Your job doesn’t support your greater life goals

There will always be other opportunities for you out there, and if your current role doesn’t support your larger life and career goals, you can leave. “It all depends on what you want,” says McGoff. “It’s existential, but I tell people to go back to their ‘why.’ Why am I alive? What do I want to do with my life? What actually makes me happy? How can my job fit into my lifestyle? You want to find your deal breakers. Once you answer those questions, lean into those answers. I really think that people can find jobs that are their dream jobs.”

“Anytime that you find something that better supports your greater goals in life, you should go for it,” Lovell concurs. “If you’re currently going to the office but you find another job that’s remote and you would prefer that, take it. You want to find a job that works for you.”

Bottom line

So long as there's another job lined up (or a thriving business that can support you financially), quitting your job doesn't have many downsides. You can stay in touch with your manager or coworkers, and maybe even expand your relationship with them now that the professional ties have changed.

But if the fear of regret or mistake is holding you back, remember that the rewards of moving on will outweigh the penalties. There are no advantages to staying when you could be happier somewhere else.