Leaving a job — no matter how bad or stressful — is never an easy decision, said Vicky Oliver, career expert and author of “Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots.”
“Most workers know when things aren’t going well,” Oliver said. “There are clues. You’ve been passed over for a promotion or you aren’t getting the plumb assignments anymore.”
As Kenny Rogers once sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
That’s not just sage advice for the occasional poker player. It is also a dilemma most every person grapples with at some point in their career: when is it the right to time to walk, or run, away from a job.
Even worse is when you are clashing with your boss — hardly an uncommon experience as 40 percent of U.S. employees say they have worked for an abusive boss, according to a poll by the Employment Law Alliance.
Still, in most cases Oliver recommends staying put while slowly designing your exit strategy.
“Leaving a great-paying job for a nothing job because you can’t stand your boss will not pay off in the long run,” she said.
That is especially true if the reason you are leaving is due to a personality clash with a boss or co-workers.
“It’s better to fix what you can when it’s personality related because you could go to the next job and encounter someone worse,” she said.
An exception to that rule is what Oliver calls the “insatiable narcissist,” who is someone with a big but fragile ego who strikes back against anyone who dares offer an opposing view.
“With most personality types, I teach people how to work around them. With the narcissists, I tell them they should go.”
But even then, the answer isn’t to quit in a huff.
“See if you can make a lateral move away from that boss until you can find a better option,” Oliver said.
If you do decide to go, you need to be realistic about how long it will take to get a job and take all the necessary steps needed, such as hitting the networking circuit, updating your online profiles and even meeting with an executive recruiter.
Oliver said in spite of the uncertain process, job seekers need to remember they are in control.
“Each person is the mastermind of their own career,” she said.
Updated February 2020