Laters, Baby. When is the Right Time You Leave Your Job?

Last week, I received a message from Klout that said so-and-so needed my advice. Now, honestly, I usually glance over these sorts of emails and don’t pay them any mind. However, this particular day, I opened it and logged into my account. The question that was posed to me was this:

How long should I stay at a job if I know it’s not a good fit? That, my friend, is a very good question, indeed.


This was my response: My grandfather always advised me to give anything that I tried at least a year. However, I would say it also depends on the circumstances. Ultimately, my advice would be to line up another gig before your leave your job … if that’s at all possible. Good Luck!

Let’s break this down a little bit more …

My grandfather (actually, here in southeastern PA, we say “pop-pop”) taught biology at a Philadelphia area public school for 30 years. He lived in the same house for 50 years and served as a PFC in the USMC in WW2. He embodied everything good about the Greatest Generation. He worked hard, was loyal and humble, and gave a damn. I vividly recall him telling me to stick something out for at least a year before making a decision.

This is solid advice, unless, of course, the circumstances clearly prevent you from staying at your job. If, for example, your job or job-related stress is negatively affecting your health or causing issues in your marriage … sticking it out for a year may be way too long. When deciding how long to stay at your job, consider having a heart-to-heart with yourself and honestly answer the question, “Is this worth it?”

If a job is merely “not a good fit,” should you just up and quit? What makes it not a good fit? There are so many questions that one could ask. If you are in a similar situation, what would you do? If it were me, I would first start with looking back at why I initially accepted the offer.

  • What made me say yes in the first place?
  • What do I like about the job?
  • What do I not like?
  • What do I like or not like about the company?
  • Now, what’s changed?
If the company is large enough, could you possibly transfer departments? Do you like what the organization does or stands for? Should you engage HR in a conversation? What’s the real issue behind the job not being a good fit?


The last piece of my advice to this individual on Klout was to try to line something else up before leaving. In today’s job market, to just up and leave a company because “you don’t like it” seems rather drastic. There are probably one hundred other people that would love to be in your shoes. But if you feel that leaving is the best next step, consider carving out time to search and land a new gig. And, this time, try to get all of the information that you need to make the right decision for you.
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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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