People First HR Services

You know it’s time to leave when…

Colleen Coates

If you wake up feeling grumpy just at the thought of going to work, chances are it’s time to move on. Your work life can make up the better part of how you spend your waking hours, and if that time is spent doing something you don’t enjoy, or actually despise, that’s a whole lot of wasted time in your life.

Sometimes people will say they can’t leave a job for one reason or another. I would suggest they probably can leave; they may just have to make some sacrifices to accomplish a change in employment. It could be a matter of your good health and happiness that ultimately forces you to change jobs — better to do it before you retire, miserable you didn’t do it sooner. More so, make the change before the stress of an undesirable job takes its toll on your positive mental health.

Review this list of signs and symptoms, and if you can relate to one or more of these points, then you may want to begin your new job search today. Just make sure you have your new job lined up before you hand in your resignation.

  1. No room for advancement or to build new skills. Some people are perfectly fine with doing the same job and the same tasks every day, and that’s OK. If you’re eager to grow and learn and can’t find that where you are, time to search the classifieds.
  2. Significantly underpaid for your skills relative to the market. If you are not paid your market worth, and the organization won’t budge on salary, perhaps it’s time to find some place that values your talents.
  3. Random ailments or continual illness becomes the norm. Do you find yourself getting sick at the beginning of the work week and miraculously feeling better as the weekend approaches? Listen to your body and start your job search.
  4. Days are spent complaining. If your conversations at work and outside of work revolve around complaints about your job, do everyone a favour and figure out where your next move will be.
  5. Every workday is started by counting down how many days until you have time off. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing for a living, then start networking to find a new workplace. Do you really want to spend an average of 40 hours a week or more loathing your work?
  6. Your boss is a jerk. Everyone deserves to be treated respectfully. If you can’t seem to ever please your boss and you get treated like garbage, then get out of there fast.
  7. Feelings of resentment are starting to appear. If you get to work and have feelings of regret and bitterness, time to seek out some career counselling before those feelings manifest themselves into anger or despair.
  8. Threatening to quit has become your mantra. Have you told your boss or colleagues you’re going to quit if things don’t change? Have you written your resignation speech and are just waiting for the right time? Do people roll their eyes at you when you state you are going to quit, again? If you are starting to sound like a broken record, then it’s time to brush off your resumĀ©.
  9. Your talents are not recognized nor utilized. If you find your professional strengths are not being put to use or no one seems to appreciate your contributions to the organization, it’s time to move on.
  10. Good benefits are the only reason you stay. While this certainly is an important attraction tool for employers, it’s not a good enough reason to stay. Good benefits need to be supported by good leadership, a supportive working environment, competitive pay practices and so on in order for a person to perform at their best and truly feel satisfied.
  11. The job pays really well. Now this may sound like a peculiar reason to leave a job; however, if you’re only staying because the pay is exceptional, sooner or later you will start to feel trapped. Being overpaid for your skill set makes it tough to leave.
  12. The voices in your head won’t stop. If you have that nagging sense you should be making a move, you may want to listen to that inner voice of reason.

If you’re not happy at work, it will show by your actions, behaviours, words and so on. If your boss is paying attention, they will pick up on this and may start a conversation with you. If that happens, hopefully you can have an honest discussion about what’s making you unhappy. Perhaps there is a solution such as an internal transfer to another department. If you are a skilled employee with a good work record, your employer will want to keep you. Of course there are some things your employer can’t change, or may not want to.

If you continue to work in a job where you are not happy, it can impact you negatively both on the job and at home. Your quality of work may suffer which can impact references or even result in termination by your employer before you are ready to leave. Your personal life may suffer too when you carry that resentment home with you.

Life really is short. You need to work to pay the bills, so why not spend work time where you enjoy what you do and really feel you’ve made a contribution.

Colleen Coates, CHRP, CCP, is a practice leader with People First HR Services Ltd. She can be contacted at


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 H2