6 Important Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Nightmare Job

That's the third laptop this week... | iStockphoto.com ( RomoloTavani)

That's the third laptop this week... | iStockphoto.com (RomoloTavani)


We spend more than a third of our lives at work. What do you do if that portion of your life feels like a living hell?

Here are some nightmare scenarios you may be encountering:

Toxic Work Environment. The company sold you a bill of goods on the interview. Morale is bad, your coworkers are worse, and expectations are shifting and unrealistic. A 40-hour workweek is a pipe dream compared to the 70+ hours you’re currently logging.

Your skills no longer meet the company’s needs. Sometimes a major internal shift occurs that makes you vulnerable. For example, maybe you’re an IT manager who’s been working on 20-year-old technology that’s being sunsetted at the end of the year, and there’s no plans or budget to train you up on the new platform. This kind of thing can also happen with soft skills, too – maybe the CEO is rolling out a new service model and it’s clear you’re having difficulty adapting.

Your boss has it in for you. Perhaps you and your manager have different philosophies. Maybe he wants to replace you with somebody he worked with at his last company. Or, maybe, he’s just evil. Either way, you have a bulls-eye on your back, and when things go south you will be blamed.

You’ve burned out. Sometimes it feels like you have nothing left to offer – no passion, no interest, no energy, and no motivation.

Or, maybe, your situation is a combination of all the above. In any event, you have a knot in your stomach just thinking about work, and you’re popping Rolaids like candy in order to battle back chronic acid reflux.

A thought crosses your mind: “This job is horrible, I should just quit. I can find another job.”

Acting on this is another matter. We depend on our job in order to eat and to put a roof over our head. Here are six important questions to ask yourself before deciding to quit your nightmare job.

  1. Is the situation temporary? Let’s say your manager is the primary source of your aggravation ­– is he filling in as the boss while the company has a vacancy, or is he settled into the role for the long term? If he’s an equity partner, then he’s clearly not going to move on anytime soon.
  2. Can you fix the situation? It’s not always possible for the boss to know everything that’s going on in the organization. If a process is broken, sometimes your manager has the power to remedy it, and by telling her she can address it. If the issue is skills related, perhaps you can take a class on your own time. And if you’re having a major personality clash with a coworker that’s causing your pain, sometimes a direct conversation can resolve it. But, sometimes not.
  3. Can you afford a break in employment? True, you’ll have time available to interview for jobs, but finding a new job takes time, and you won’t be collecting a paycheck while you’re on the hunt. Incidentally, if you quit you won’t qualify for unemployment pay.
  4. Will my employer pay me to leave? Many senior executives negotiate a severance package prior to accepting a job – if you’re lucky enough to fall into this category, you’ll have an idea of what your financial safety net will look like. But even if you’re not a member of the executive suite, there may still be the potential of a severance package. Some companies are image conscious, and may be willing to discuss some sort of severance in order to maintain their image and provide you with a soft landing – but don’t count on this, as it’s usually the exception, rather than the rule. Severance packages tend to be offered when it’s the company’s decision to part ways, not yours.
  5. Will my reputation take a hit? As a general rule, candidates who are currently employed tend to be more desirable, whereas candidates who are unemployed tend to generate questions and doubts by potential employers. Trust me, they’ll dig at this during the interview to see if they can uncover your flaws that contributed to your unemployment – fairly or unfairly. Also, you will damage your position during salary negotiations; instead of negotiating a package from a position of strength where the company needs to put together an attractive compensation package to entice you to leave your current opportunity, you’re in the less desirable position of negotiating with minimal leverage.
  6. Are my skills in demand? Take a serious look at your job market. If your skills are in high demand, employers may be more ready and willing to take a chance on you. If the market for your line of work is flooded with unemployed professionals, prepare for a slow, painful ride.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.