Should you quit your job?

In today's post, I suggest some reasons an engineer might consider quitting their job and offer some food for thought before you hand in your notice.

Should you quit your job?

This is something that I think most engineers wonder about in their careers. And for good reason. Sometimes, it’s important to make the decision to move on from your current employer and on to the next one.

The real question is: when?

This has been on my mind after a Twitter conversation I had with someone who had read an article I wrote on mechanical engineering salaries from around the world. I gather that he didn’t feel like he was earning enough…

It got me thinking about whether salary was reason enough to quit a job, and what other things might be signs that you should be hitting the dusty trail.

In today’s post, I suggest some reasons you might consider quitting and offer some food for thought before you hand in your notice.

Why you might consider quitting

There are lot of reasons why you should think seriously about quitting your job. Most people only consider salary, which I think is a big mistake. There are other, more important reasons you should consider bailing on your current employer and start looking for a new one.

Your job doesn’t make use of your skills and interests. If your job doesn’t give you the opportunity to put your skills to use, there are two big problems. For one, you’ll get rusty if you don’t keep practicing your skills. This will be a major problem for you later on in your career. Secondly, you likely won’t feel all that satisfied by the work you’re doing. This can have major negative consequences in the long term.

You have a toxic work environment. If you work in a negative, abusive environment, get out! No amount of money, accolades, titles, or any other perk is worth being mentally and emotionally beat up on a regular basis. 

You have a bad boss. It is often said that people quit their bosses, not their jobs. This makes a lot of sense to me. If your boss is only interested in their own success and has no time for the success of his or her team, there’s a problem. This can lead only to frustration and stunted professional growth. 

No opportunities for development or advancement. In my experience, people need to grow in order to be happy and productive. They need to take on new challenges over time and stretch themselves personally and professionally. If there is no opportunity for you to do this at your company, it may be time to start looking for a new one.

Poor compensation. Finally, of course you need to consider the compensation you get for the work you do. If you are seriously underpaid for the work you do, the region you live in, and your credentials, you should consider negotiating for better compensation or moving on.

What to consider before cutting the cord

So let’s say that some (hopefully not all!) of the above warning signs apply to you. Should you stop what you’re doing right this instant so you can hand in your notice? Not quite yet, my friend. There are a couple things you should think about first.

A job is more than it’s salary. Just because you have a bad salary doesn’t mean you should up and quit. Think about it: would you take a $100,000 salary to become a telemarketer? I know I wouldn’t. There should normally be other reasons beyond salary for you to decide to quit.

Have you been around long enough? It might be good to stick things out a little bit if you haven’t been at your job for very long. It could be that you’ve had a bad first impression and that things aren’t exactly as they seem. You also want to be careful not to be labelled as a “job hopper” by future employers.

Are you contributing to your own bad situation? Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to take a step back from your work situation to consider how you influence it. Do you have a bad attitude? Is your relationship with your boss and coworkers strained because you won’t meet them halfway? If you haven’t made a real effort to make your situation as good as possible, you should definitely try that first before cutting ties with your company.

Do you have a plan for your next job? While it may be that you should leave your current employer, unless you have a plan for how things are going to be different for the next job, you risk having all the same problems. You need to know exactly what needs to change  so the next time can be better. This should influence your job search in a big way. Don’t leave your current job until you have a plan for the next one (you DO like eating and paying the bills, don’t you?).


Have you ever quit? What was it like? Why did you quit? Did it work out for the best in the end? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

About Pat Sweet

Pat Sweet, P.Eng. is a product manager, speaker, writer, and entrepreneur working in Ontario, Canada. His Engineering and Leadership blog is the go-to resource for strategies and information on leadership, management, and productivity for engineers. Go to Pat’s blog now to sign up for his free 12-week Engineering Leadership course.