How to quit a job you hate

1. How do you know when it’s time to quit a job that you hate?

In any job you will have some days that are better than others, and tasks or job responsibilities that you enjoy completing more than others. However, if you start feeling like every day you spend at work is a chore, you are doing the minimum workload just to get by, you find yourself counting down the minutes until five o’clock, and feel grumpy and/or depressed and this is spilling over into your personal life, then these are pretty strong signals you should start looking for another role. I always suggest to my clients to think about whether it is the work environment or the work that they dislike, as the last thing you want to do is keep doing the same work for different companies if, really, you are in the wrong profession to begin with!

2. Should you find another job before you quit that one?

The short answer is, ideally yes. It is always easier to find a new role when you are currently employed. If you can stick it out and job-hunt while you are still working, this is preferable. If you simply cannot stand to be in your current employment another day, and you just need to get out of there, provided you have the financial means to support yourself during your job transition time, that’s fine too. Bear in mind though, depending on how “niche” or specialist your job is, your salary expectations and your level of seniority, it can take months to secure a new position. From a resume perspective, a small gap between employment dates is okay.

3. What kind of safety net should you have in place before you give notice?

It all depends on your personal financial situation. If you have a family to support, hefty mortgage or rent payments, car payments and private school fees, the safety net needs to be much bigger than someone who is single. It is always a good idea to estimate how much you spend each month and then times that by at least three, to get a rough estimate of how much money you might need if you leave your job without another one to go to.

4. What’s the most graceful way to exit a job that you truly hate?

Always be gracious and professional, thank your employer for the opportunity, however advise them that this was not the right fit for you. You could explain that the nature of the work was not challenging enough, the cultural fit was not right for you, you received another offer which you are really excited about as it represents a promotion/change of department/broader role – or there may be another reason. Professionalism is important, as you do not want to burn bridges. This employer may be called upon to act as a referee down the track, so leaving on good terms is essential.

5. How honest should you be when your next employer asks you why you left the previous job?

It is always important remain professional at a job interview, and remain objective and diplomatic. If you left your previous company because you didn’t get along with your colleagues, you thought your Manager was a fool and the company was not run well, don’t share! A great response to this question is that you decided it was “time for a new challenge.” You could also say that while you learned a lot from your previous role and appreciated the opportunity to work there, you are now looking for a fresh perspective.

Bear in mind though, you don’t want to change jobs too frequently, as you can start to look like you “job-hop” and it will progressively become harder to explain why you have left previous employers, and why this time (in the new role) will be any different from the last.

Remember too that the interview process is very much a two way street. I often see clients who are unemployed and become desperate to find “any” job, and in doing so they forget that they need to be happy in the role just as much as the prospective employer needs to be happy with them. Ask questions, be discerning, and find out what your day-to-day job responsibilities will really be like to avoid getting into a job that “just wasn’t what you thought it would be”. It’s also important to meet the person you will be directly reporting to, and get a sense of their working style, to make sure you are going to work well with them.