It happens at least once a week, you’ve been sat staring at a computer screen since 9am. Janet won’t stop harping on about Slimming World. You have at least three redundant meetings in your calendar and your workload doesn’t seem to be getting smaller no matter how many tasks you tick off. It’s only Tuesday. The ‘is this really my life?’ questions filter into the back of your brain, the age old ‘should I just pack it all in and go travelling?’ returns and you google ‘how to become an influencer’.
It’s a scenario most of us are familiar with, and when I say most, I really mean it. According to a new study from the Association of Accounting Technicians, the average woman thinks about quitting her job 17 times a year. That’s once every three weeks. Even further, we think about changing careers completely at least 10 times a year.
While only 34% of the women sampled apparently took the plunge and retrained, at least one in five were thinking about it. But why do we all want to quit? Well apparently, we have at least 671 workplace arguments, five office romances (only five? We’re not doing well enough here ladies), and travel 82,802 miles commuting before we retire. Essentially, we’re traveling to far, arguing too much and not having enough office fun.
Of course, thinking about quitting your job and actually doing it are two very different things. Should you just outright do it and hope you find a new job, or continue the torture and wait for a new opportunity? Most career advisers would say to wait until you have something to move on to, but if you're sick and tired of hanging around, these are the questions to ask yourself before handing your notice in...
1. Is it me or Is it the job?
‘When I was in my first private sector job, I quit because I hated being on the sales floor,’ says Michaela, 54, who worked in the public then private sector before quitting to start an IT firm, ‘I ended up being unemployed for three years, it was a mistake in hindsight because I wasn’t unhappy in my job necessarily, more so that I didn’t like being out of my comfort zone every single day. Now I know you’re out of your comfort zone in any job, and being unemployed is much more stressful, I should’ve just pushed myself and I could’ve really succeeded there.’
2. What else can I do with my qualifications and would I need to retrain?
'Fewer graduate employers request that you have studied specific subjects these days,' says Clare Tregaskis from graduate career expert Prospects, 'so think about where else your qualification can take you. For example, if you have a geography degree, could you look at marketing roles?'
3. Am I prepared to take a big risk to do what I love?
‘When I started my own business, I was completely out of my comfort zone,’ says Michaela, ‘you finish work when the work is done, not at 5pm every day, and the lack of security is terrifying. I like being my own boss enough to continue, but I’ve had friends go self-employed and hate it within weeks because the insecurity is too much.’
5. How long have I wanted to quit?
Sometimes, it’s just the Wednesday slump. You hear you’re alarm go off and you’re like ‘nope, not happening today’ and lay there for 10 minutes before realizing you have rent to pay and a stomach to feed and not turning up to work could potentially stop that from happening. However, if you’ve been periodically thinking about quitting your job for months, then maybe your problems go deeper than wanting an extra hour in bed.
‘Think about your most common conversations,’ says Alison Doyle, job search expert for The Balance Careers, ‘Are you constantly complaining about coworkers, about your workplace, about your job itself? A job should bring more positive than negative into your life.’
4. Do I have a pet to obsess over when your new job search means days without human contact?
‘Staying in every day looking for jobs or training courses was soul destroying,’ says Abi, 24, who quit her hospitality job in order to pursue her dream career as a beautician, ‘the only saving grace was my dog, who became my entire Instagram feed for about three weeks. I think I would’ve gone mad from lack of real life contact if I didn’t have an excuse to walk or play with him every day.’
6. Am I mentally prepared for the instability of being unemployed?
‘After I got back from travelling I felt horrific,’ says Lucy, 28, who quit her job to go travelling, ‘It was the best experience of my life but when I got back I just felt like employers would think I’m an idiot for quitting a job for an extended holiday. I couldn’t afford to do anything or book anything to look forward too, and staying at home all day was so boring. I’d try to apply for five jobs a day and would hear back from one or two, I started getting headaches from the stress of not having a job because it’s all I could think about.’
7. Do I have enough savings in case I can’t find a new job?
Susan Hirshman, financial planner and author of Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?, advises people to have at least nine months of expenses in savings before quitting their job. She warns that you should have all of your essential expenses saved alongside ‘what if’ costs, such as if you’re boiler stops working or car breaks down.
‘When I quit my job, I had six grand saved towards my mortgage, which I spent entirely on three months travelling,’ says Lucy, ‘at the time I loved it but sitting there looking at my bank balance when I was home, I regretted even going. Now that I have a job I don’t regret it at all, but during those low times of being unemployed it was really hard. I had to rely on my parents to make ends meet and that only made me feel worse.’
8. Am I growing in this job?
‘Don’t waste time in a position that doesn’t offer opportunities for growth,’ says Alison, ‘Committing your time and energy to a company that won’t support the progress of your career, or grow with you, will end up hindering the development of your career in the long run.’ Of course, Alison advises looking for new opportunities before actually quitting.
9. Are you ready to divorce your work wife?
If there's one universally shit thing about leaving a job, it's leaving friends behind. Whether you hate your role or not, usually, there's at least one person that's your saving grace from the relentless torture. If you're friendship is based solely around work, are you ready to leave that person behind?
'All of the people at my old work were much older than me, and that made it quite a boring environment for me to be honest,' says Lucy, 'but actually when I left i ended up missing a lot of them, I used to call one of them my work mum and I still message her now sometimes to get advice.'
10. How will this look good on my CV?
‘I tell my daughters this all the time,’ says Michaela, ‘my oldest has had four jobs within two years because whenever she is unhappy, she leaves. Sometimes you have to find a way to make your current job a better place to be, whether that’s going for a promotion or moving to a different role, because quitting outright doesn’t always look good to future employers.