So you’ve been thinking about leaving your job. You’re running out the door the moment the clock hits home time. You’ve set your LinkedIn so you’re discoverable by recruiters. You’re gathering reasons for and against leaving. So how do you know when to actually leave?
The real question isn’t “should I leave my job”, the real question is “am I good at my job”?
If you’re not very good at your job and you leave, no one will miss you. You won’t leave people wanting more, you won’t be thought of when opportunities come up in the future, and you’ll probably burn bridges you should have kept in tact. It’s a small world. People talk. You never know when you might need something.
It’s easy to think that you’d be good at your job given a different, more suitable set of circumstances. If only I had fewer clients, if only I had different clients, if only I was busier, if only I wasn’t so busy. If only [insert name of colleague] wasn’t there, if I only had [insert name of colleague]’s job, and so on.
In reality, if you are blaming a set of external circumstances for the reason that you’re not achieving, you’re probably going to end up feeling exactly the same about your next job. And the one after that. And the one after that. Suddenly, the common denominator in all your unsuccessful career moves is you. It’s time to get serious about your own ability and take charge of your own career.
In a previous post I wrote about the importance of just being exceptional. Leave your job when you have outgrown it. Leave your job when you are better than it. Leave your job when you are absolutely smashing it. Leave your job when you could not put any more effort in it. Leave when you are loved by co-workers, clients and everyone around you. Ideally, get a promotion and leave it for a step up in the same company. If that’s not possible, leave it for a step up in a new company. Moving on to be on the same level, or even to take a step backwards, citing that the fault was someone else’s, is completely transparent. You’re only fooling yourself. Why would it be any different there?
Yes, your employer could be to blame. Perhaps you’ve had insufficient training. Perhaps the environment you’re in doesn’t suit. Perhaps they hired you into the wrong position. These things happen. But be proactive about remedying them.
There are those who complain and there are those who do something about their complaints. Hanging around, punching numbers into a computer for 8 hours and doing a rubbish job? You might as well not be there. You’re wasting your life and you’re giving the worst possible impression of yourself. Complaining and not doing anything about it is one of the least desirable qualities of any candidate, especially when making changes and improvements is in your remit.
So what’s the cost of being bad at your job? There’s the cost of leaving an employer on bad terms, which is potentially huge given that they will be asked for references for every other job you apply for. There’s the cost of your reputation, given that in most industries many people know many others operating within it. When you leave, suddenly things will be done better. Your colleagues, whom you once regarded as friends, will realise you left work for them to deal with. They will realise you weren’t giving your all, which can damage your reputation further.