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When Is the Time Right to Leave Your Job?

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how to know when the time is right to leave your job MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

In previous generations, many people graduated from high school or college, found a job and expected to keep it until retirement beckoned.

Loyalty to an employer not only was a matter of principle, it seemed a fair and dutiful obligation to a loyal employer. Stick with a company for 20 or 30 years and you’d reasonably expect steady pay raises, good benefits, plenty of vacation, and a fair retirement package.

In recent years, though, the culture surrounding work has shifted.

Loyalty has all but disappeared, with employees ready to jump ship at the first sign of a more rewarding opportunity, and employers reacting to a stagnant economy by seeking cheaper business practices and adopting do-more-with-less philosophies. In this us-versus-them environment, it’s important to regularly evaluate whether your job is right for you.

Here are five questions you should ask yourself before considering leaving your position:

What’s the job market like?

For many people, even a horrible job is better than no job. In a rough economy, there are no guarantees, but it’s worse in some fields than in others. Before you consider leaving your job, think realistically about the job market.

If you’re not sure what it’s like, try applying for some jobs and floating some résumés. It’s a bad idea to leave your job without something else lined up unless you’re flush with savings or your work environment is a serious health concern.

Do I like my job?

It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily stressors of work — your crazy boss, the office gossip, your cramped dungeon of a cubicle maze. But the most important question you need to ask yourself is whether you enjoy the work. If the answer is yes, but you’re still unhappy, it may worthwhile to try to affect some change in your work environment rather than fleeing.

Is this a healthy environment?

If you’re comparing two jobs or have another job offer, evaluate the work environment and positive aspects of your current job. Do you feel happy and safe, or are you constantly terrified of the next tantrum from a customer?

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