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Never quit a job you hate without first doing this

October 24, 2015, 6:00 PM UTC
Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs? is written by Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter.

It’s not a stretch to argue that most of the people reading these words right now are probably considering a job switch or have thought about one recently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says millennials are now job-hopping every three years, while just 12% of 30 to 34 year olds stay with the same job for at least 10 years. Whether or not this is a good idea is another matter entirely.

Changing jobs can help you climb the corporate ladder more quickly or increase your salary faster than annual raises. However, a resume full of short-term positions can work against you with wary would-be employers. Particularly when you’re first starting out, leaving a promising job can take a toll on your long-term career. Before you ditch your current position in favor of a new gig, take the three M’s test:

Are you miserable?
Life is too short for misery. Figure out if you’re having a random bad day or if you’re stuck in an endless string of them. (Here’s a simple rule: You shouldn’t dread going to work.) If you’re miserable, leave. But before you do, consider whether there’s anything you can do or ask for that would take the misery away.

I was only 23 years old when I was handed a team of 26 engineers to manage. I had no computer science training and no prior management experience. I was so far in over my head I couldn’t even fake it. My only management strategy was to ask the engineers what they needed each day, and otherwise stay out of their way. I felt like a poser. I was miserable. A couple of weeks in, I told the team I was sorry I didn’t know how to run an engineering team. They laughed and told me I was the best manager they’d ever had. Apparently it was because I listened. From then on, they went out of their way to coach me on how to be a better manager. If you like the company but don’t like the job, tell someone how you’re feeling. Better yet, bring a plan to your boss for how you would change your job. Be a part of your own solution.


Are you making enough money?
How much is enough? My cofounders at ZipRecruiter and I found ourselves in the unique situation of running a profitable bootstrapped business. Every month was a choice between keeping the profit or re-investing for growth. In a very specific way, we had to answer the question, “What is enough money?”

Rather than argue over numbers in a spreadsheet, we instead each listed the lifestyle we wanted. My list was simple: Eat dinner with my family every night, send my kids to good schools, work out three times a week, and if everything fell just right, fly business class. Clarifying success in terms of daily life vs. dollars made it easy to agree on how much was “enough.”

When your primary motivation is money, you tend to forget about things that are more important to your day-to-day satisfaction, such as challenging projects, collaborative colleagues and opportunities for professional growth. Think about what you truly need financially. If you’re under the line, then it’s time to go.

Are you getting mentored?
Do you have a supervisor or experienced colleague who has shown an interest in your professional development? Do you have a peer or mentor in your company you turn to when you have professional questions? These coaches aren’t easy to come by, and they shouldn’t be abandoned casually. A great mentor is more likely to clear the path toward higher compensation and job satisfaction than an impulsive job change.

If you can’t think of anyone at your current company who fits that description, it’s worth seeking out another opportunity.

Real all responses to the Leadership Insider question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs?

How long you should really stay at a job you hate by Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify.

When this happens, you know it’s time for a new job by Paul Sallomi, U.S. and global technology sector leader at Deloitte LLP.

3 signs your job is in serious danger by Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of Hired.

This is how long it should take to gain new opportunities at work by Adam Ochstein, founder and CEO of StratEx.

Here’s how to tell if your job is at risk by Chris Perry, chief digital officer at Weber Shandwick.

What a failed negotiation could mean for your career by Shadan Deleveaux, co-founder of Technology For Families in Need.

Why a low paycheck isn’t enough to leave a job by Mike Guerchon, chief people officer at Okta.

This is how long you should wait before quitting a job by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.

3 signs it’s time to switch jobs by Karen Appleton, SVP of industry at Box.