Even though the U.S. unemployment rate sits near record lows and a number of industries have a high demand for workers, it's never a good idea to quit your job without making a plan.
In some cases, examining why you want to quit will help you realize that it's not the right move to make. That may not be the decision you expected to reach, but it's better to stick it out in a less-than-perfect situation than to find yourself unemployed with no prospects.
Certain issues, however, are always bad reasons to quit. Dodging these traps might mean a little short-term misery, but you'll be trading it for longer-term success.
You didn't get a promotion
Getting passed over for a promotion -- especially one you believe you deserve -- can hurt. And in many cases, losing out can lead to the emotional response of, "Well, you don't want me, so I'm out of here."
That's a huge mistake if you like the company, see yourself as having a future there, and your employer holds you in high regard. When you get passed over, it's instead important to sit down with your boss, not to complain, but to learn what you need to do in order to get where you want to go.
In the early 2000s, I worked for a newspaper company, and did not get a promotion I had hoped for. Part of the reason was that my boss wanted to keep me where I was, which was a compliment, but a career hindrance.
Instead of quitting, I talked with him about what my career goals were, and he agreed to support my candidacy when appropriate openings came up. He did that, and I was eventually offered my desired promotion.
You don't get along with a coworker
Sometimes you are forced to work with someone you just don't like. Maybe the person is lazy. Maybe he or she is a jerk, or maybe your personalities simply don't mesh.
At a very small company, there may be no way to avoid working with the person. At a larger business, it may be possible to get transferred to a different shift, a new team, or some other situation that takes you away from the offensive person.
No matter where you work, the best move is to speak with your boss and explain your feelings. That could lead to one of the above solutions or even an effort to talk things out with the person you don't get along with. There's no guarantee of a positive solution, but it's worth trying before putting in your notice to escape the problem.
You don't like your boss
Not liking a co-worker is one thing, but disliking your boss can make work extremely unpleasant. Again, at a small company your choices may be limited, but at a larger one, you may have options.
Sit down with human resources (HR) or your boss's boss if appropriate. Explain professionally what your issues are and what remedies you would like. That may mean asking to be moved to a new boss or requesting a transfer to a different location.
If it's not just a work style or personality thing, but a case where your boss is doing something wrong, of course, HR should take action. Again, nothing gets solved without talking, even if you have to be somewhat discreet in bringing up the issue.
You're miserable but can't easily get a new job
Many years ago, when I worked in newspapers, I did not particularly like the now-defunct company I worked for. They cut corners, slashed budgets, and had little regard for the communities they served. They also had an unofficial policy where job openings weren't filled for very long periods of time. That meant I rarely got a day off and sometimes had to work very long hours.
I wanted to quit, but at the time could not move due to my wife's job, and there were very few jobs in media in the area we lived in. This was before telecommuting positions became common in the editorial space, and simply quitting almost certainly meant changing fields.
Ultimately that's what happened, but instead of quitting due to how miserable I was, I quit when I had another position that I actually wanted. Had I let emotion win and quit right away, I likely would have had to take a job in a different field that was much less appealing than the one I eventually landed.