Is It Time to Leave Your Job? Career Experts Give the Scoop

If the memes circulating on Instagram are any indication, people really, really, really hate Mondays. Maybe you don’t want to say adios to the fun and laziness of the weekend. Or perhaps you dread having to deal with your nosy coworker and overflowing Outlook inbox. But if you find yourself week after week getting the Sunday Scaries, it could be indicative of a larger issue: that it’s time to hand in your resignation letter. Before you go in to talk to your boss, however, you should be absolutely sure that you’re not just dealing with run of the mill work boredom. (Who hasn’t been there?) Here’s what you need to know about the key signs that it’s time to quit your job.

Your ‘happiness formula’ is out of whack

Before you start planning your goodbye happy hour, you need to take stock of your true feelings about your job. Brandon M. Smith, The Workplace Therapist and founder and principal of The Worksmiths LLC, says that can help you determine your happiness formula at work, which will make your decision clearer. In an ideal situation, you’d have the right job, the right culture, and the right boss, Smith says. “If you have zero out of three, that’s not awesome at all,” he says. “By using that formula, you can determine what’s the itch that’s bothering you.”

Out of the three, Smith says having the right boss is the most important. If you have a great boss, but one aspect of the trio is lacking, you can speak to your supervisor and say that you love the company culture, but you need to adjust your job responsibilities to better suit you. If the job is great, but the culture is not the best, then you can speak to your superior to see if you can work from home occasionally. If the boss is the problem, then network with other supervisors or the human resources department to see if you can get a transfer.

You don’t have good work-life balance

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it could be because you don’t have an ideal balance between your work and personal life, Smith says. “It’s a common pattern when people are taking on too much and not carving out enough time for [themselves],” he says. In our current work culture there “are no natural boundaries,” so it’s absolutely key that you set ones you’re comfortable with your bosses and coworkers and “protect yourself and your time.” This could mean establishing a “no email on Saturdays” rule or sending calls to voicemail after hours.

You’re underappreciated

In a perfect world, our boss would shower us with compliments on the daily. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily always happen. That said, if you’re not getting proper compensation or recognition, then it’s time to say buh-bye. “If your boss doesn’t compensate you when you go far above the norm, or doesn’t give you promotions you’ve been promised, then you know you’re being abused,” Roy Cohen, career counselor and author of the Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, says.

Obviously, if your boss is verbally or physically abusive or doesn’t respect boundaries, it’s a red flag, Cohen says. But if you feel that you’re routinely being asked to do things that are outside the norm, that could also be a bad sign. “It might be a time for a reality check,” he says. “Ask colleagues and see if they’re feeling the same way. Or identify a mentor who can offer you some perspective.”

Sometimes we have to pay our dues, but it’s important to know if this is what everybody has to go through, or if something is a bit off. “It’s important to know what is considered standard operating procedure,” Cohen says. Making copies for your boss? Acceptable. Having to run out of board meetings take her dog to the groomer regularly? Questionable.

You’re avoiding work on an extreme level

A little bit of procrastination happens from time to time. But if you’re dragging your feet and other people are noticing, then it could be indicative of your lack of job satisfaction. “The biggest signs you’re unhappy at work?” Cohen says. “If you dread Sunday nights and get mildly depressed, that’s a bad sign. Or if you’re late regularly or look for a reason to stretch out your breaks.” If your boredom is extreme, you spend far too much time on non-work related activities, or you’re putting off activities that need to get done to the point that your colleagues are noticing it, it’s a signal that all is not well.

You’re not growing professionally

If you can’t remember the last time you learned something new at work, there are some options for you to continue your professional growth without ditching your position. Smith recommends finding some additional professional development opportunities outside of work. (Your job may even reimburse you for your tuition for a continuing education course; look into it!) If you have an awesome supervisor, they may reward you for your initiative and tailor your job to give your more responsibility after a conversation. “Ultimately though, you may have to leave, to continue growing,” Smith says. Which leads us to our next point.

You have an exit strategy

If you have decided it’s time to move on, make sure that you have a game plan for what you’ll do next. “It’s always easier to find a job when you have a job,” Smith says. “So be really careful about doing something drastic.”

One exception for quitting with no idea what your next move is? If you’re 0-3 in Smith’s happiness formula. “If you have zero out of three, it is such an emotional drain and beat down, that you don’t have the energy to look for a job or you don’t come across as confident [in an interview] for another job,” Smith says.

Regardless of when you decide to head out, keep it classy. (That means no telling off your coworkers who you hate in the middle of the Wednesday afternoon meeting, flipping your desk over and leaving in a blaze of glory.) “Most industries are small and people talk,” Smith says,  adding that two to three weeks notice is standard. Make sure to sit down with your boss and ask how you can facilitate the transition, by either writing down your job description and leaving behind passwords for any work accounts that need to be accessed.

There’s no stopping you now!

Kelsey Butler is a reporter and editor living in New Jersey. She has written for health and lifestyle publications including Women's Health and Brides. A proud dog mom of one, you can find her skiing or on the bocce court in her spare time.