101

Every job has its ups and downs, but sometimes it just isn't worth it to stick around. I'm currently in one of the "down" points with my current job and debating whether or not to start testing the waters for something else.

What are your experiences? How did you know it was time to leave? Do you ultimately feel like it was the right decision?

126

In no particular order:

  1. If you are not being challenged anymore, or feel you have nothing more to contribute to the company.
  2. If there is an unresolvable personnel conflict that is affecting your day to day happiness and/or productivity at work
  3. If you don't really care about the success/failure of the company you are working for.
  4. If you really dread going to work in the morning more often than not.
  5. If work is taking over your personal life and is the only thing on your mind most of the time.
  6. If you're asking yourself if it is time to leave!
94

I knew it was time to leave when Dilbert started to seem more like a documentary than a cartoon.

50

I knew it was time to leave when I dreaded going to work every morning. I found myself wasting time all day to get to 5pm and leaving as soon as I could. I had lost my passion for the job... which is actually something I noticed when I got really involved in a non-work coding challenge and remembered how much I loved programming. It made me realize that I loved my career, but it was time for a new venue.

32

Time to leave when you are always on Internet instead of working ;)

30

Write yourself a list about things you'll miss.

If that list is shorter than the things that you won't, it's likely time to leave.

Best advice I've had, can't really take credit for the idea.

27

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/26763/when-do-you-decide-to-walk

If you wake up every morning and want to kill yourself rather than go to work, then you've waited too long. Seriously. I was in this position, and I was so happy after I bailed, and regretted that I hadn't done it much earlier. I think for many people, the inertia of having "security" is so high that they will stay in a bad place for much too long.

Other factors

  • a better opportunity comes along
  • your skillset is stagnating at the current job

Be cautious about taking an opportunity just because it's more money. In some cases it may be a good idea, but you may also find out that you're highly paid to do something that is soul crushing.

23

When I watched "Office Space," I laughed hard, then realized I was laughing at my own predicament.

When your job is parodied in a movie, it's time to move on.

23

Symptoms of a really bad situation i was in, in no particular order:

  • waking up at 3am in a cold sweat, every day, weekends included

  • screaming/getting angry at your loved ones for no particular reason

  • picking out what tree you are going to drive into on the way to work

  • finding that the weekly root canal session is the most relaxing part of the week, and the only part that you look forward to

  • you are in a position where you are forced to lie to your clients as to why their job is running over

  • considering stopping coding altogether, and stacking shelves in a supermarket looks good

  • you are the smartest person in the room (I'm not that smart, just a mort who tries)

  • start writing really bad code, you know it, and you just don't care

  • your doctor tells you that you will be dead in 5 years at this rate

  • you have no faith in management

  • you don't trust your own judgement or ability anymore

Since going freelance, and carefully choosing who I work for, I love coding again.
Don't wait until its too late, the edge is closer than you think.

16

If you ask the question - it's time to move.

15

The first thing to remember is that the grass is not always greener. A lot of times, you'll find the same issues/people can exist in other companies as well.

That said, you should know the reasons why you want to leave so you won't have to face those in your next position. Ask yourself: What do you want from your job? Can you current employer provide that for you? If not, what do you want from your next job?

This will help you figure out if you should stay or not. Good luck and most importantly, keep your confidence up.

13

A few reasons:

  • I had to drink a beer at lunch each day just to make it through the day.
  • I had a headache each day when coming into and leaving work.
  • I started going gray at 25... seriously.
  • I had an electrical engineer that was my manager that didn't understand why coding took such a long time.
  • Had daily 8 hour meetings to discuss processes that were then ignored by the other developers the next day.
  • Had 6 developers in my group that each had their own way of doing things, and would not explain or entertain that things could be done better differently.
  • My pre-ee boss got fired for telling us all to F* off in a meeting with other managers.
  • I was hired in February and didn't start coding on a project until the end of May(all the days in between were full of me doing documentation on a project I didn't understand and 8 hour meetings during the day about processes, which I addressed above)

Man what a nightmare.

It was the best idea for me to leave as now I'm in a wonderful company that takes time to explain what they're doing and why, they take new ideas under consideration and encourage us to all learn new technologies and try to apply them to our current jobs. I've stopped going gray and now I don't need to drink during lunch to make it through the day. I also work with some truly amazing people and I wouldn't leave it for the world.

13

When after the latest round of layoffs, you realize you wish you'd been one of the people laid off.

11

When you feel like you've stopped learning new things.

9

I once read that overtime was defined as "time over 40 hours when one is working and does not want to do so".

Similarly, I think it is time to seriously consider leaving if one does not want to work the first, base 40 hours over a period of 3-4 months. Anyone can have a bad week, and our enthusiasm often has an ebb and flow, but if the malaise sets in for an extended period, then it is time to ponder and prioritize. Life is short.

9

Hoi!

Something else to conribute:

Just look for another job, it won't stop you from keeping your current job! Have a look at the neighbor's meadows so to speak, talk with potential employers about your situation and that they should keep your applications confidential.

I bet you will be surprised about the boost of confidence you will get from hearing other bosses ask you to work for them! You are employed, not OWNED by the company. NO one owns you. You are free. The only one, who makes you stand up and go to work every morning is YOU. One thing I sometimes think about is this: Do I live to work, or do I work to live?

Inspired by http://positivesharing.com/ - check out the book, it's great! :)

Bye, Basty

9
// Stop commenting out my code - Mike
// Stop writing bad code - Joe
// I put it back in...again - Mike
// Stop uncommenting my comments - Joe
// You comment this out again, I'm coming over and punching you - Mike
// I'm going to comment it out every time I see it...IT DOESN'T WORK - Joe
// print("Mike, if you're seeing this message, I deleted your code. Sincerely, Joe"); // why would anyone do this? - Bill
7

It's time to leave when the job no longer offers the following attributes:

  • variety
  • appropriate and flexible challenges
  • clear goals
  • immediate feedback
  • a sense that one's skills are appropriate to cope with the challenges at hand
6

When I was told my job description had changed and I asked (repeatedly, with no response) what it had changed to I was told to "stop acting like the center of the f---ing universe." I started looking for work the next day. I loved that job, but it was absolutely the right decision to leave -- you never realize how abusive a situation really was until you're away from it.

6

Your boss insists on not only telling you what to do, but how to do it. When your job needs two descriptions. When it's obvious that your company doesn't care about its employees.

Examples:

  1. I had a boss one time who told me to write a script to test our new web app. When I suggested I write it in Python, a language with which I possess skill and experience, he told me that if I write it in a language only I understand, then if I leave no one can maintain it. Therefore, I should write it in C# - a language I had no experience in whatsoever - which would have increased the time to write the app by an order of magnitude (since I already had half of it written from another project).

  2. I worked for a record company as a system administrator - but I was also tasked with converting audio and video to put online, send to producers, send out to media, etc. There is no way to describe both of these with a single title or description, and the mission-critical work I was doing in the former position was constantly being interrupted by people in the latter.

  3. Management had asked the secretary in October to schedule a Christmas party, and so she booked us (~8 people and 'plus ones') into a bar/grill. Then management decided no 'plus ones' - just employees. Then they decided no going out, but the secretary should plan something for the office, and suggested 'beer and pizza'. Then when they asked her where she was getting the pizza and she told them Panago ($17 for a large), they said it was 'too expensive' and suggested a pizza place that was well known for making people sick as a 'better deal'. When the company isn't willing to spend as much per-person on your Christmas party as people usually spent on themselves for lunch every day, it's time to book.

Generally, if you feel bored, ignored, disrespected, unchallenged, misused, or unwelcome, it's time to leave. I'd go so far as to say if you don't love your job and get along well with your coworkers, it's not the right place. You're not in the right place unless there's no question you're in the right place.

5

When you see the boat is headed for the iceberg, warn them about this and they are too busy fiddling with their MS Project file...

When they give you a cheap pleather portfolio for Christmas and the boss who did nothing gets a cash bonus and a pat on the back....

When they stick matrix managers (who have no domain knowledge) in your requirements review so that there are enough reviewers to meet the required minimum number of people...

When you argue with a dimwit 'Software Manager' for 30 minutes because they've got a "3 space indent" rule that is their pet issue but they don't care that stuff doesn't compile on any box but the original developer's...

it's time.

(All these things happened to me.)

5

Simple rule: Love it, change it or leave it. If I find, that despite my very best efforts I cannot (re-)shape my job into one I enjoy, I consider changing jobs.

4

At this point in time with the industry being as flooded as it is there is no excuse not to LOVE your job. If you're unhappy get out!

I got outsourced (India, but I'm not hating) in January, I was devestated but I learned a lot about myself. I found a temp position consulting and learned I HATE large companies.... so now I'm in the perfect little start up with smart people and open minds.

Don't leave unless you find something.... do you know what your ideal environment is?

4

Its time to leave when at the end of the day you drive home:

1) having been waiting for the end of the day

2) feeling disappointed because you know you hadn't given your best or learned anything new that day

3) dreading going back the next day

3

I knew when they sat me down and said "Bill, we're outsourcing your job function to Ireland".

Seriously, you need to make sure that it's the job and not the career. I once worked in a non-development position for almost three years. I hated the job so much I quit and moved to a different company doing something similar. After hating that job for two years, I realized that I needed to do something else. Honestly, my worst day as a developer is better than my best day as an actuary.

Do what you love!

(I'll get off my soapbox now :o)

3

A couple jobs ago: When they ran out of money to pay my salary.

3

I left because I felt unappreciated and underpaid. I was also getting really crappy projects to work on, and the whole bureaucratic system was pretty much broken, as the programmers were the only people who were expected to follow the SDLC. Most of my co-workers from that time have since left the company.

3

I knew it was time to leave when I asked to write code in a proprietary scripting language my company had developed. There was no market for this skill so staying in that position would only limit my career. (You should always be trying to expand your career via either breadth or depth, whichever works best for you.)

3

When the users keep a 'secret' list of what developer goes with what app, so they can skip the helpdesk and call you direct.

When the majority of your daily job is maintaining a 'mission critical' VBA Access '97 app, while the rest of office suite is 2000/2003.

When you get into the office in the morning, look at your inbox, and want to bang your head against the wall. Bonus point: Series of emails from user after regular working hours wondering why you're not responding to the help request they put in.

When given an existing application to maintain, and nobody is sure how it works, the original designer no longer works with the company, there is no documentation, no code comments, and you've got a two week deadline to make some upgrades.

Eventually, these factors drove me to find greener pastures. And I found one!

3

Quitting is much like taking an AIDS test: if you think you might need to, you had better find a damn good reason for not doing.

2

When you hate going to work for more then a week - you need to ask yourself if there someplace else you rather work at.

2

I used to have a telecommuting job. I had been working for almost a year, when thoughts about leaving began growing on me. The work was to maintain a badly-written MFC application. Eventually I left, and what?s interesting, on the employer?s initiative. They said the project was no longer as profitable as it used to. I still wonder whether that was the true reason, but I switched to freelancing and it has been quite interesting and challenging ever since. The former employers afterwards invited me to rejoin them but I declined.

Get yourself an account on a freelance site and try it out.

2

When after a year of 16+ hour days, 7 days a week working my ass off to try and make the project that was my baby a success despite crap pay and terrible commitment from the company, the boss bumped into me in the hall and said something like:

"Yeah, I understand you've been doing a few extra hours."

From that moment on, I decided to work for myself and have never looked back!

2

In almost all cases, I left jobs because I was bored. Hi-tech stress I can handle, boredom I cannot.

Oh, and working with jerks. That's another good reason to quit.

Or working for jerks.

2

Once I left a job without having another job offer. That was a bad idea.

Look around, apply for jobs that sound interesting, if nothing comes up, you might realize your current situation isn't that bad. What's more likely is that you'll be able, eventually, to find something that suits you better, and possibly even get paid more. If you do get another job offer, might as well ask your current employer for whatever you need to stay ( a big raise, better benefits, better tools, a better chair, etc.) If they give it to you, great, if not, then maybe they'll think about treating the next developer at least a little better.

2

When the CEO lies to your face, constantly misunderstands your motivations, and then proceeds to act incredibly unethically.

I'm a graduate student, and my employment was contingent on being able to publish the academically interesting aspects of my work. The CEO had agreed to that (in writing!), but when it came time to sign the copyright release notice, he balked, and stated that it was his company's IP and he wouldn't release it or patent it or basically allow it to be seen by the world.

So, I quit. He didn't understand my motivations for working there-- it certainly wasn't the money, it was the desire to graduate, and he set me back by about a year. I think he did it just for the sake of doing it.

2

It is basically a balancing game to determine whether you should leave your job or not.

How I decided to leave my last job was I listed out all the positive and negatives, and then gave each a score between 1 to 5 because some were more important than others and deserved a higher score. Then I added up each column and then subtracted the negative calculation from the positive. I actually had a positive value of a 3, but decided that because it was so low there was just not enough positives outweighing the negatives.

Really though it just comes down to trusting your gut and knowing when to leave. I would highly suggest though that you wait until you have something else to take the place of your current job.

2
  • What are your experiences?

I left my first job out of college in 1995. I left because "I wanted to work at an Internet company." True story. I also left because my project at that job was transitioning, and it felt like the right time.

I left my second job in 2001 (yes, at an Internet company) because the company was contracting (i.e. massive layoffs). I was promoted into management, then had to let go people. I then volunteered to be laid off (i.e. I took the "package"). It took me a month to find another position in that job climate. When I got back into the job scene, I was no longer a manager, but an "individual contributor."

I left my third job in 2004 because the position was one that I had already done before (technical support). Also, the company's products were a mixture of hardware and software, but the software was very low-level (C, low-level math libraries, etc.). I wasn't very happy with these technologies (even though my first job was largely C programming, and I loved it then). I frankly wanted to be doing "more modern" technology (i.e. Java. .NET, XML).

I haven't left my fourth job yet.

  • How did you know it was time to leave?

The common thread to a lot of the above is "desiring to learn more." I think as long as I'm learning and feeling challenged by the problems, and as long as I'm enjoying the challenge, then it's not time to leave yet.

  • Do you ultimately feel like it was the right decision?

After each departure, it totally felt like the right decision. I'm grateful for this question giving me the opportunity to think back on those past choices. They were good decisions.

2

I knew it was time to leave my last full-time job when, after several discussions about telecommuting, my boss told me "I'm fine with you working from home, but upper management says that, if you're their employee, they want you working in their building. So what do you think about becoming an outside vendor instead of an employee? Would $X/hour be OK?" where $X was roughly five times my then-current hourly wage.

I knew it was time to leave the one before that when they had a meeting on the 9th of the month to tell everyone that they wouldn't be able to pay us on time on the 15th, then called everyone at home a week later to say that they'd decided to reduce the company's size from 20-some employees to 7 and they were looking for volunteers to be laid off.

Three jobs ago, we finally get to one that I basically decided to leave on my own. They were bought out by a multinational holding company and the corporate culture shifted considerably over the 2-3 months following the acquisition. I stayed long enough to be sure that I truly didn't like what the company was turning into (as opposed to simply being prejudiced against larger organizations) and then I turned in my notice.

2

It is time to leave if you feel like you've peaked where you are. That instead of growing and improving yourself, you are just going through the motions. Then it is time to seriously start looking for another job. If your co-workers are looking for a job and the people you liked at the company initially have left, it can be time to move on.

I do think there is something to be said for knowing what you want in the new workplace, what warning signs do you have that a position at company ABC wouldn't work for you. For example, do you like having lots of autonomy and the ability to be off in your little world? If so, then an agile place doing SCRUM is likely not a good fit. What kinds of technology would you like to use? What kinds of work with that technology do you like? For example, C# can be used for back-end, middleware or front-end pieces and what strengths you bring is something to note as well as what interest you'd have to help the company do better.

If the company is losing money so badly that it has sold off all its assets and the company buying them, doesn't offer you employment, this is a sign to move on. Some of us in the dot-com days may remember when companies were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each quarter.

2

You know it's time to leave your job when you're beginning to ask questions like that ... ;)

Seriously, if you wonder about whether or not you're "done" with your current job then you're probably just making excuses for sticking out due to fear of change...!

2

I knew it was time to leave my last job when we got several angry emails about our site popping up on peoples' computers.

I noticed a spike in 0 second, 100% bounce visits in Google Analytics to a page with ads on it on our site. The server logs showed that all of these hits were from people with infected UA-strings.

Translation: the advertising department was inflating our 3rd party ad impressions by feeding a page with ads to people who had adware on their computer.

2

When I added up how my time was spent during a usual week, divided into two columns; time spent doing my job, and time spent calling, emailing, visiting, and yelling at other people to do their jobs. It came out 20% - 80%. I quit the next month.

1

I left all my previous jobs when the rate at which I was learning stuff slowed down. Apart from my first job where I got out as soon as possible, because it was terrible.

I spent 1 year at my first job, 2 years at the second, and 5 years at the third. I'm now running my own company, and learning a LOT.

1

When you find your job too easy to be done, challenges too trivial and your boss irritates you cause you make your job so well you can browse stackoverflow :)

1

Well, when I left my first job is was when I woke up and realized I was making minimum wage writing legacy applications when I could learn more, put my skills to better use outside the company and make more money doing it. We didn't have source control, and our development systems were consistently down or our favourite editor wasn't able to run on them.

When I left my first, real, salaried position it was more of a location question. Where I was, there were no other technology companies. Zilch, nada, none. I knew that to stay competitive I had to move, and it helped that my wife wanted to move. ;) To add to that though, I was out growing the team. I needed to learn more, and that just wasn't in the companies' budget or on its radar. With production servers grinding to a halt and version control getting messy it was time to move on.

Both of those companies I highly respect, and strongly believe they will do very well in the years to come. Growing pains come with the small company lifestyle, but so do good relationships.

Disclaimer: I no longer work for a small company, and the last time I wrote my own freelance work was at least a year ago. I'm quite content at the moment learning everything I can from .NET to Oracle and it looks like I'll be sticking around for quite awhile, despite that urge to create my own start up and live like Kevin Rose.


As far as making the right decision goes, I would have to say that I definitely missed the fast paced 'do or die' environment for awhile. I also quit just before the first company I mentioned sold their start up to Yahoo which hurt a little. Still, in the end it was the best thing I could do for my schooling and career at the time.

The second time around, well, I wouldn't be where I am without that company but I also wouldn't be here if I hadn't left. I learned a ton working with them, and that really helped when I moved to where I am now. Was it the best decision? When I find out, I'll let you know. :)

1

When the boss is emptying all of the wastebaskets out instead of the cleaning people.

1
  • When you have a gut feeling that tells you that you don't fit in this job.
  • When the thought of getting ready to office nags you.
  • When you spend lot of time on the internet stumbling than working. It is time to call it quits.
1

When you drive to work, your favourite song is playing on the radio and you are not singing/humming/whistling.

1

When the company sends an email with a subject 'Transformation Plans'... That's when you start positioning yourself for a new job :) If you feel you are not learning anything new in your current position then I think it is time to jump to a new position. Because in IT industry you have to learn something new every day otherwise you are behind the game.

1

If, like me once, you are in the dentist's chair, nobody in the room with you, and you think, "I just don't get enough time like this," you might consider looking for another job.

1

When they called from the parent company in California one Friday and said, "Tell everybody they don't need to come to work on Monday. We're closing the doors."

1

you added the entire IT department to your spam filter along with the word URGENT 6 months ago and have not regretted it.

0

When you no longer want to go into work then it is time to look. Why stay somewhere you do not enjoy?

0

My first job was at a consulting company as a hired-out worker. The contract for hiring me has been renewed from time to time. But then the end of the project was in sight. From that time on, I asked my boss, what will come up next for me. Because he wasn't able to give me an answer within three months, I decided to leave this job and look for something else.

My opinion is, that it's always better to quit a job by yourself than to wait for being fired.

0

I have never willfully left a job. Strange, I know - but my first employer went bankrupt, and my second employer didn't receive enough funding from the gov't to keep me on as a contractor. Now I am with quite a large organization so hopefully things will stay solid.

0

I think it is a combination of where the the company is going, where you are going within the company, what learning and otherwise getting from being employed. The last company I worked for I was at for 8 years, and when I left it was because I did not see the company going anywhere (revenue was down 25% on the last quarter I was there), others were leaving so I did not see any management opportunity and helping lay-off people is not a lot of a fun, and while I was still early on the learning curve in the group that I had joined it did not feel like enough of a draw for me.

I hope that helps.

/Allan

0

When you have been administrating computers for more than three months instead of coding software, it's definitely time for leaving the job!!!

0

When I realized it wasn't going to get any better (crazy hours, lack of people, low pay) despite trying to work within the system, and that even the small steps taken to placate me somehow were supposed to make me phenomenally grateful.

0

When the experience you're gaining at the current job isn't helping you to get the next job or helping you to start your own business.

0

It may be time to leave when over 50% of the workforce has been laid off in the past year and a half and everytime you hear something from your boss he only mentions more budget cuts. When other workers who are already probably looking for other jobs are getting annual pay raises and you don't. When you find yourself stuck with monotonous boring projects that rot your brain. When you have to work with a codebase/application that isn't fit to be used by a dead man and aren't rewarded or appreciated for it.When you are micromanaged instead of trusted to do your job then yeah it may be time.

0

When you just dont enjoy it anymore and it seems to have become a chore. A job is one thing, but a chore isnt enjoyable. A job can be enjoyable. When its a chore, a real effort, then its time to consider the options.

0

When I realized there was no way to change the politics and that management would never let me do the job they hired me for: develop reliable, well thought out systems.

0

It may be time to leave when you realize that you have been asking yourself the question: "Is it time to leave?" for a while AND you are in a position to make the move.

There are times when leaving just is not a good option for any number of reasons.

Your resume should always to ready to hand out and you should take any opportunity to be interviewed. Both are good practices whether you are enjoying our position or not, which helps to keep your current position in perspective.

0

If you're doing it for the money, you'll always be underpaid. In other words, if the only reason you are doing if is for the paycheck, it's time to polish the resume.

0

If you feel like asking that question you are probably getting bored of your actual job or you just feel you are not going to be productive for that company anymore, I'll say that'll be time to leave.

When you start to loose motivation and do it for the paycheck, no passion and you wont be productive anymore.

0

When I found myself bone-tired every day for weeks on end, even though I had been getting enough sleep. And I knew I made the right move because as soon as I moved to my new gig, I was back at 100 energy levels.

0

Long before I actually did. :-(

0

As a bit of background, I play wargames with miniatures (small models of soldiers, tanks, ships, whatever).

I started having a recurrent dream where I would finish painting up an armored division for the Command Decision rules set, and it would come rescue me from the office. I have a vivid image in my mind of a scale 105mm shell fired from a 1/285-scale M7 Priest self-propelled howitzer hitting a cubicle wall.

After I had that dream a couple of times, I decided to (a) look hard for another job, and (b) get enough dump trucks to finish up the engineering battalion.

There was another contract-to-hire position where, aside from the manager, there was one person who'd been there longer than three months. and he made sure to tell me he wouldn't have set things up the way they were if he'd been in charge. I finished up the contract and decided I didn't want the "to-hire" part.

0

When you work for the lowest pay and living in the second most expensive city and you basically have to save money for six months or take a credit just to be able to rent an apartment...

-1

I think as simple as I can put it would be:

When a better opportunity arises.

-3

When my boss stopped paying me and started to pack heat.