4 Signs It’s a Bad Idea to Quit Your Job
And what to do when you have to stay.
Edwarden, a developer and StackExchange user, wanted advice.
His boss yelled at him for requesting a promotion in the future. Or more specifically, asking for advice on the best process for receiving a promotion. Edwarden exceeded his manager’s expectations. Other managers were also very happy with his performance as well.
His manager also knew what Edwarden wanted to discuss ahead of time.
It didn’t matter.
His manager exploded. He began yelling, shouting and stomping his feet. “You’ve only been here… how many months?! Seven?! And now you’re asking for a promotion!” His manager threw a tantrum and continued to interrupt him until he agreed that he had no “additional concerns.”
Here’s the Advice He Received from Other Users
You should quit your job.
- You should look for a new job, I don’t think your boss is going to promote you
- How many red flags do you need to see before you look for a new job?
- Do yourself a favor and get out
- This shows you why the turnover rate is high and why you should try to get out as soon as possible
Is it a bad idea for him to quit his job?
How do you know?
It’s not something we’re taught in school. We graduate, get a job and then we’re just supposed to figure this out on our own. While some of us do, many of us don’t.
That’s the question.
What are the signs that indicate it’s a bad idea to quit your job? First, let’s take a look at some of the more common/obvious answers.
- You don’t have another job lined up
- You don’t have any savings to carry you through the transition from old to new
- You need the money or you aren’t sure you’ll get as much somewhere else
We’re all familiar with the usual reasons given when people suggest that you should stay at a job you obviously would prefer to leave. And you know what? This is solid advice. What about the uncommon and obscure reasons that are more important?
Let’s take a look.
1. You’ll Be Branded as a Job Hopper If You Leave Now
Mark Suster is a well-known entrepreneur and successful venture capitalist. He offers businesses some essential, yet wildly unpopular advice.
Never hire job hoppers.
In his post, Never Hire Job Hoppers. Never. They Make Terrible Employees, he defines a job hopper and explains why it’s so detrimental for companies to hire them. Here’s his subjective definition.
“It’s kind of like that famous saying about art, “you know it when you see it.” If you’re 30 and have had 6 jobs since college you’re 98% likely to be a job hopper. You’re probably disloyal. You don’t have staying power. You’re in it more for yourself than your company. OR… You make bad decisions about which companies you join.
Are you 25 and have worked for 3 companies, each for 18 months? You’re on the borderline. If they are Google, Facebook and then a startup — you’re fine. That’s less than 1%. If you’re 42 and the longest you’ve EVER worked at a company is 3 years — TOAST. That means you’ve likely had 7 short-term jobs since college.”
He basically describes job hoppers as disloyal mercenaries. This kinda, sorta implies that he views these employees as selfish and untrustworthy. This is bad news if you’re looking to quit your job.
Is it true though?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. Most employers agree with him. Research from Indeed shows 76 percent of employers don’t want to hire job hoppers. Most employers won’t admit that if you ask because, legalities. Research from the Department of Labor validates the frequency of job-hopping.
Here’s some pushback.
A quick Google search shows there are plenty of articles suggesting that attitudes on job-hopping have changed. That it’s the new normal. Many of the people reading these articles feel good. Are you one of those people who feel it’s not as much of an issue as it used to be?
Either way, it’s a complete disaster (for you).
If you’re right, employers have become mercenaries as well. This means employee disloyalty has increased employer disloyalty. It’s easier for them to mistreat their people. If you’re wrong, you’re not going to get the job. Either way, you lose.
Quit prematurely and you may hurt your career in the long term.
2. You May Be Blacklisted
It’s a hotly debated topic.
Do HR blacklists exist? Some HR professionals say they don’t and are insulted by the suggestion that they do. Other professionals (and developers) say they do. Which side is right?
First, the argument for blacklists.
“At a networking event last August in Bellevue, Wash., a recruiter pointed to a software developer across the room. He’s qualified, but “very bad in his presentation skills,” he told career coach Paul Anderson and a human resources official for a big technology concern. “What’s that guy’s name?” Mr. Anderson remembers the HR official asking, and then scribbling the name in her notebook. “I want to add him to our blacklist.”
It gets worse.
“The developer then walked over to the trio to inquire whether the recruiter had found relevant openings for him. The recruiter replied he was still looking. But once the job seeker left, the recruiter “told us he would never submit him to any clients,” Mr. Anderson recalls.”
Next, the arguments against blacklists.
“Candidates do have a record when they apply to a large company, but each opportunity is on its own merit and we do not use data from other jobs or a “Black List” to disqualify anyone. All recruiters have bias like any other human, and hiring managers do tend to remember bad candidates, but nothing like a Black or Hit List that I have ever witnessed in my 15 years as a recruiter.”
Other HR professionals agree.
“Most companies find its (sic) own ways to make sure that they “remember” why an employee left to avoid rehiring of employees who left on negative terms but there is no shared resource where companies share information about employees. The strongest “weapon” is the reference call.”
What if both sides are right?
A formal blacklist or database that’s shared across several organizations would be an illegal and very risky move. An internal (and informal) “do not hire” list would be more appealing. As we saw earlier, it would be easier to discuss this with recruiters and other HR professionals in a casual setting.
Do you work for an organization that blacklists? Here are a few strategies you can use to detect blacklisting.
- Talk to former employees before you quit. You’re looking for a specific scenario. A series of circumstances where new employers were on the verge of hiring these former employees, then suddenly lose interest.
- Look for rehires. Does your organization have a large pool of employees who previously left the organization only to be rehired at a later date? This is a very good sign. It’s an indication that revenge isn’t a core value.
- Ask former employees how long it took to find a new position. If a large portion of former employees struggle to land a new position, proceed with caution. Have a large number of these employees lost positions they were on the verge of winning? Secure a new position before leaving your current job.
If there’s any chance that you’ll need a reference from your current job in the future these strategies are important to-dos. They’re important even if you’re planning on a career change.
3. You Don’t Have a Replacement Plan
Isn’t this another way of saying you don’t have another job lined up?
A replacement plan means you have a plan to find a new position at your ideal company. This plan achieves very specific goals and objectives and is focused on one thing. Hold and carry.
What does that mean?
You’re maintaining and/or improving on your current circumstances. This means you have a plan to…
- Establish a mutually beneficial relationship with allies, mentors, influencers, and connectors
- Identify and cultivate relationships with ideal companies
- Curate a list of sources that feed you a consistent stream of information
- Maintain and/or improve on your current salary and benefits package
- Protect yourself from negative circumstances in the future (terrible boss, layoffs, firing, etc.)
- Identify pathways to promotion, leadership and performance positions ahead of time
- Minimize interruptions and downtime due to transition
Use theseposts to create a detailed plan of attack before you leave your current job or avoid the unexpected firing. If you don’t have a plan with these details and you decide to quit, you’re rolling the dice.
4. Leaving Means You Hurt Your Co-Workers
This could be a co-worker, manager or friend you’re on good terms with. There are certain situations where leaving makes things worse for the co-workers you leave behind.
Here’s a scenario.
There are three dev teams at your company. All three teams are completely siloed from each other. For some bizarre reason, you’re the only dev who can provide all three teams with the data they need to finish a large project.
But your boss is the worst.
In fact, he’s the reason why you want to quit. He’s made work an unbearable disaster. You’re expected to put out a never-ending series of dumpster fires every day at work. Your boss is responsible for many of them.
Here’s why it may be a bad idea to leave.
If you want to get another job you’re probably going to need a reference, or at the very least, a way to explain the gap in your resume if you decide to omit your current position. Remember the mutually beneficial relationships I mentioned in step three? Your co-workers are part of that list.
An article from Monster outlines the five types of co-workers you need in your inner circle to get ahead in your career (e.g. a friend, HR confidant, mentor with clout, gatekeeper, and competitor). Leaving prematurely (or in a way that hurts your co-workers) destroys these relationships.
Have to leave anyway?
Do your very best to tie up loose ends before you go. Work to make things as easy as you can for your co-workers. Focus on leaving your current company on the very best of terms, even if you hate your current manager.
What should you do if you have to stay at your job?
Staying is an opportunity in disguise. If you’re desperate to leave it certainly won’t feel that way. It’ll probably feel terrible. Many people would recommend that you keep your head down, that you do your best to make it through until you find something better.
There’s a good chance you have other (better) cards to play.
Here’s what I mean.
Search for Dysfunctional Patterns and Problems
The greater the dysfunction and problems at your current company the bigger the opportunity to add significant value. Look for work-related issues you can fix. You’re looking for opportunities that go above and beyond your normal workload. Why on earth would you go to the trouble of working harder for your current company?
Your accomplishment portfolio.
If you’re able to score several big wins at your current organization you have the leverage you need to negotiate a large salary increase at your next position. The more value you add in your current position, the more value you’ll receive (with negotiation) in your next position.
Here’s how your accomplishments factor in.
Anytime you achieve anything of value, no matter how small, you open your notes and you jot it down.
- Received a compliment from a manager in another department? Write it down.
- Fixed three times as many bugs as the next developer in your company? Write it down.
- Have you created libraries and tools for other developers at your company? Write it down.
Don’t Judge, Just Write
Make a list of anything and everything good you’ve done for your company. Make a list of the names, dates and times. You’re looking to create a sizeable list of accomplishments. If you’re looking to turbocharge the effectiveness of your accomplishments, ask your managers or co-workers for feedback.
Keep doing this.
You now have a list of amazing stories you can share on your cover letter, in your resume, and in job interviews. Even better, you have specific names, dates and times which makes your stories powerful and incredibly compelling.
Take Future Co-Workers to Lunch
Remember those mutually beneficial relationships I mentioned in step three? You’re going to go through their LinkedIn contacts list. Reach out to co-workers who have second-degree connections at companies you’re interested in. If you’ve taken the time to serve them, you’re in a good position to request a favor.
It doesn’t matter if these companies are hiring.
Ask your co-workers to make an introduction via LinkedIn or, if you’re concerned about privacy, send these second-degree connections an InMail to introduce yourself. Here’s a template you can customize — just substitute the bold elements.
Hi First Name,
I’m friends with mutual contact. I’d love your advice on …. Can I take you to lunch this week?
Let me know what works best for you.
First + Last Name
You’ll want to identify the five types of co-workers you would need in your inner circle if you received a position at their company. Then, when you’re ready, take them to lunch. Ask them about the things you need to do to earn a job at their company. While you’re chatting, look for ways you can add value.
Rinse and repeat.
If it’s a fit, work to build a genuine relationship with each of these contacts. Invite them out after work. Include them in parties and get-togethers. Why does this work? Research shows employers prefer to hire friends, people they want to hang out with. It’s a straightforward way to earn a position at the organization of your choice.
Sometimes It’s a Bad Idea to Quit Your Job
It’s not something we’re taught in school. When we graduate, we’re told to get a job. Then we’re just supposed to figure these details out on our own. When things go south with our jobs, many of us aren’t sure how to handle it. Sometimes the signs indicate it’s a bad idea to quit your job.
When you have to stay, there are benefits.
We’re all familiar with the usual reasons given when others tell us to stay at a job we want to leave. The usual advice is good advice. But we’re not told how to make the most of a bad situation.
Elite, A player developers know-how.
Now you do too. With the right strategy and tactics, you’ll have the strategies you need to convert a difficult situation into an incredible opportunity.