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Should you stay or should you go ?

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

It is a brave person to move somewhere new right now - but it is a braver one to stay in a role that doesn't want you.

Updated Disclaimer: the date is April 2021. The year of Coronavirus. Our Annus horribilis*. This last year we have seen untold turbulence in the job market, we have seen mass redundancies as COVID19 cut its sharp teeth on the public, and furlough always promised to end. We have almost seen before our eyes, the wanton destruction of the late night economy, and hospitality... so It is a brave person still employed in those sectors, that moves somewhere new right now, very brave indeed. Though, It is a braver one that stays in a role that doesn't want them.

*Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning "horrible year". It is complementary to annus mirabilis, which means "wonderful year".

At some point in our working lives, we must all have asked ourselves: How do I know when it’s time to quit my job? or Should I quit my job if it makes me unhappy? The biggest questions on many a professional's lips now are; "is the time right?" or "should i just be grateful to have a job at all?"

I've had an array of jobs ranging from in-between jobs whilst in school to full-time positions I truly thought would make me happy, but ultimately didn't. One of the best things I have learned from my career journey is recognising the signs of when is the right time to move on to another job. Like me and thousands of others, you too may have felt at some point (or you may be feeling now) unhappy in your job, and you may be too comfortable or too afraid to act. If you notice yourself constantly saying negative things about your job though, you might have already justified to yourself the reasons to make the leap of faith — or at the very least, take a good look at what you're doing and if it's really worth it.

Having said that, It's important to firmly decide what you want out of your career before making any drastic moves. There's always the chance you may not mind tolerating a job you dislike, as long as you can reap the financial rewards. We all need to gain that honest perspective before we make any big decisions.

Let me take you back to a time, when I realised my job was negatively affecting my mental health, I had to make a change. I would arrive home every night feeling exhausted from my commute. It wasn't a long commute, certainly no longer than I had done before - but it was dull - it was dull because the job had lost all interest for me - the thinking that kept me going through a commute seemed to have changed from proactive planning to impatience and irritation. I was losing between 2 to 3 hours of time every day just going to and coming from work. The job itself had become quite stressful as the company structure changed - the chinos and open necks that sat behind head office desks didn't care, only about balancing the bottom line - through this the business had become draconian, removing any need for management skills. The hours had become longer, and more boring, as experience was overlooked for a centrally driven dictat. I found myself losing sleep owing to staying up late in an attempt to claim back my free time that had been lost to over work. It was a mess. I faced down the barrel of 2 choices, go sick and pretend like there is something wrong with me other than I didn't like my job anymore - or leave, and fix the issue roots up. I looked in the whites of my own eyes and decided to apply for other roles. In those days, my skill set and age was heavily in demand, it didn't take long to bag myself a new role. Of course, I had the obligatory counter offer, which naturally I turned down - more on this later.

So you see, the answer to the “Should I leave my job?” question. It isn’t always so black and white. and, knowing when to quit your job is about learning the warning signs and acting on them. I tell you something else, as a leader I have never minded a member of my team telling me they are looking for a new role. Why ? Because enthusiastic, talented people want the best - they are desperate to engage their brain, and in return get paid fairly for the job they do. If I can't give them that long term, who am I to hold them back ? I am just happy to hold on to them whilst I can.

Back to you now:

Here are 6 unmistakable warning signs that you should be having that word in that mirror.

1 | You Dread Going To Work When your alarm goes off in a morning, do you roll over and snooze a few times ? Do you consciously set half a dozen alarms, knowing that you will turn them all off... are you awake before your alarm , yet still manage to get up late ? If your heart races when you step out of the door, or fear overtakes your body when the boss calls, If going on your lunch break feels like you’ve just been let out of jail, if going home is a welcome relief from watching the clock all day... any of these things - then you’re definitely in need of a change. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly normal to have stress related to the job itself. Don't we all. But you shouldn’t always dread going to or being at work that is unhealthy - and can be for a number of reasons. Heres the top 3; a. Do you have the boss from hell? Just as a precursor to anything I write here - all names of people or company are changed to protect innocence.

The old saying goes: people don’t quit a job, they quit a boss. Your boss’ demeanor doesn’t just affect your time at work; it rolls over into other areas of your life. You have to be really careful when you choose to leave your boss, because as the old saying goes 'the grass is not always greener'... also, you may feel that your affinity with your boss can be overcome by more money or a flash title. I learned (again, the hard way) that it cannot. I chose to leave a great boss called Mark - a fabulous leader of people, to end up with a man called Tony. Who for the life of me, I will never understand how a man that can't zip up his trousers could ever be taken seriously. One of my first mentors, a lovely man called Frank once said to me, "Just because you’re a manager doesn’t mean you know how to manage people". How true those words of Frank have appeared in front of me over the years, in the guise of a weak boss.

Want to know how bad a boss can get ? Then CLICK HERE and read this blog by yours truly on bad bosses... b. Is the company culture a good fit for you? For example, the culture may be disorganised with no clear job duties or responsibilities. You might prefer a more structured culture. Or your job requires irregular shifts but you prefer a steady schedule. Maybe even the culture you work in doesn't respect individuals, preferring to manage from the centre and push out instruction.

No matter what your situation is, one thing is true, and that is, if the company culture isn’t a good fit, you’ll never be totally content. You’ll never find yourself reaching your productivity potential. You’ll never be satisfied. You will always be frustrated. So search for a company that has values and goals that align well with yours. That way, you and your company can grow together. c. Does the stress make you vent about your job? Think about your most typical conversations. Do your conversations fall back to venting about coworkers, your boss, or about the job itself? This not only affects you, but it affects the people around you who have to hear about your workplace woes.

2 |  Your Friends and Family Comment on The Fact That You Hate Your Job Knowing when to quit your job comes down to this. Instead of wondering to yourself, “Should I leave my job?” – take it from the people who know you best. The people we spend time with are more perceptive to our emotional and mental well-being than we think.

While we may think we just happen to be in a not-so-great mood today because the printer wasn’t working, our friends and loved ones will pick up on the fact that we’ve been venting about our job every time we see them. So first things first – don’t get defensive if they bring it up. Most likely, they’re not complaining about the fact that you’ve been venting. Instead, they’re concerned about you investing all your time into a job you dislike, and worried it is making you unhappy disproportionally.

I have heard the phrase "tell them to shove it up their arse, its not worth it" so many times over the years. So if you’re complaining about your job, make sure you’re actively trying to do something about it.

3 | You’ve not had a pay rise in years

Here we sit at appraisal time, you are absolutely confident that this time is the time for that pay rise.

  1. You’ve taken on extra responsibilities since a coworker left

  2. You pick up extra shifts working long days

  3. You consistently get positive feedback from customers and peers

With valid reasons like these, you’re confident that you’ve got it in the bag. But as the meeting comes to an end, you’re only left with a thank you, and a pat on the back. Sometimes not even a thank you. Ignorant twats.

What the f**k is going on?

You know it’s absolutely possible to get a payrise, because some of your coworkers have had one. You heard all the arguments about how well paid you already are, and how your multi billion pound employer cannot afford to give you an extra 5 grand a year... you have bought that for some time now, and the pill is getting bigger and more bitter to swallow. Its funny isnt it, that the people who really deserve the recognition, are always miles away from thought when the purse opens up. But whether it’s this scenario or something similar, you need to start planning your next step. Knowing when to quit your job comes down to knowing what direction you want your career to take. People who are unsure of their next step often get taken advantage of. They need the job more than the job needs them, and they don’t have a clear career plan in place. Here’s what I mean: At some jobs, you’re asked to work more without getting a payrise. Hours increase, but wages stay the same. When this happens for a couple of days or even a few weeks, then that is ok. When that becomes indefinite... It becomes a problem.

You will find something more suitable, you will hand in your notice, and then by some miracle you will see that payrise appear as a counter offer. This has happened twice to me, and on both occasions my response has been to leave. I'm sorry, but if you cannot be bothered to value me whilst I am here, you absolutely don't deserve my loyalty now.

4 | You’re Overqualified And There’s Little Room For Growth There are times when we take substandard jobs to get by. But, you shouldn’t feel stuck at a job that you’re overqualified for. At work it's sometimes hard to find a great moment to show everyone what you're made of; you might keep getting pipped to the post or you might be continually looked over and never be given an opportunity to truly shine. On the other hand you might be working yourself into the ground with not so much as a, "Please" or "Thank you" like Andrea from The Devil Wears Prada.

You may also be doing way too much work and hold more responsibility than is required for your position and you could be due that pay rise, as recognition for your effort. The leader in me would say, that instead of complaining about being undervalued at work it's best to collect hard evidence to prove that you are. Then, hopefully you will receive the credit you deserve. If your efforts fail, it may be time to find a job where you're appreciated. Have you’ve looked for opportunities to advance at your company and realised you can’t? If the answer is yes, then you should start your job search. After all, why would you waste your time at a company that won’t encourage the advancement of your career? If you aren’t careful, staying at this job will foil your career development in the long-run.

5 | You’re Getting Contacted About Other Opportunities What’s the most intimidating part of starting a new job search? I think, It’s not knowing if you’ll find one. The fear of the unknown. Putting yourself out there can be time-consuming and scary, and it’s all too simple to persuade yourself that you’re stuck where you’re at, but invest some time to figure out your current situation. Are there currently plenty of open jobs in your desired industry and career field? Even better, have you been getting contacted by hiring managers and recruiters? If you answered yes to those questions, then you owe it to yourself to see what’s out there. If you answered no, yet you still want to leave, then it may be time to re-evaluate the sector you operate in.

Cross pollenation of skill is entirely possible, hence how I have forged a great career in high street retail - out of town retail - public houses - late night entertainment - hospitality - contract catering... the list is long and distinguished, who knows if it ends there 🤷‍♂️

6 | The Company You Work For Is In Trouble

In the past I worked for a company for about two months when all of the newbies, myself included, were informed that we were under consultation to be made redundant. I had the choice of leaving voluntarily and receiving a payout or carrying on in the hopes that I would be one of the lucky ones who wasn't laid off.

We appealed so that us new guys weren't discriminated against and the redundancy process went company wide. After making it through the process, my job role changed and I wasn't doing the job which I was initially recruited for. I eventually left because I thought that not everyone had been treated fairly throughout the process and I wasn't working in the job I applied for anymore. The moral of the story is: When I saw those red flags waving, I should have jumped ship.

So, how ?

Well, as a starting point, I always recommend creating a LinkedIn page - here's mine if you fancy a look. My Linkedin profile Recruiters and headhunters scan this site like crazy, and chances are you’ll be surprised when you realise how many people are looking for your skills and qualifications. Plus, it never hurts to discuss new opportunities with potential employers... ever.

Never knowingly turn down a conversation

Once you realize there’s more out there to offer you, it’ll make your decision to leave a little bit easier. Besides, even if you don’t dislike your job, it never hurts to look for better opportunities.

Finally, it is important to recognise the cold, hard facts. As a manager, I have learned that the best employees always leave first. It is never the nob head that plays the game, flitting between long term sick and the grievance procedure - it is never the pain in the arse working persons hero, that spend their life complaining about their break times. No. It is always the bright, hard working superstars. Do you know Why? Because they can. They find better opportunities and they go after them. They don’t leave things up to chance, and don't hang around to be treated badly..

So let that be you - when the time us right.

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