I’m thinking about leaving my job, but it’s a big decision. What factors should I take into account?

Leaving a job inevitably involves some level of emotional, social and financial social upheaval and isn’t something to be taken lightly.

There could be many valid reasons – positive and negative – pushing you towards the exit: perhaps a change of personal circumstances, an unmissable career opportunity, or a burning desire to try something different. These can all be powerful motivations to move on.

So too can a nightmare boss, a lack of promotional prospects, stress and demotivation. These aren’t necessarily bad reasons to resign. The question is whether you’re just having a bad week or these are symptoms of a more chronic problem.

The last thing you want to do is make a rash decision to quit in the heat of the moment, so make your decision part of a positive game plan, not a knee-jerk reaction. Here are a few useful questions to ask yourself before handing in your letter of resignation:

  • Why do I want to leave? Make sure it’s a positive statement about the future (e.g. to seek a new challenge; earn more money; work for myself; have more time to do what I love; etc.) instead of a negative comment on the present (‘I hate my manager’).
  • Is there any scope to get nearer to my goal in my current job? Unless you plan to change career tack completely, it could be worth having a conversation with your manager to see how your role could develop in the direction you want.
  • Can any problems be fixed if I stick it out? Are you unhappy because of a personality clash with someone, at odds with the workplace culture, or dislike aspects of your job? Can the issues be addressed by talking to the people concerned? Are others in the same boat as you? If there's a union where you work, can you address it through that or by getting organised with colleagues?
  • What will I gain – and lose – by quitting? Carefully weigh up the pros and cons of leaving in terms of the time, money and opportunities you will subsequently have to pursue your career ambitions.
  • When is the best time for me to leave? For example, do you need to save up some money first? Is there a training course offered by your employer that you want to take advantage of while you have the chance? Or is there a project to complete first that will look good on your CV?

As well as helping you to stress-test your true motivations for leaving, this process of questioning can also make your plans more ‘real’ and stop you making a different kind of (bad) choice – i.e. endlessly procrastinating and never changing jobs!

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.