The average person changes job about 12 times during his or her career. That counts promotions or internal transfers as well as someone deciding to move from one company to another.
Still, even though that number suggests that the idea of joining one company and staying there until retirement has long-since passed, many people worry about the stigma associated with "job hopping." Leaving jobs quickly often may make a company think twice about hiring you. Quitting one job for a good reason, however, almost certainly won't.
If your resume includes multiple long stints (think two-plus years) at a single company, then one aberration may get asked about during an interview, but it probably won't keep you from getting hired. If you have less stability than that in your past, then you may want to make sure you stick it out in your current position for at least a year.
Even people with stable resumes, however, sometimes stay at a bad job too long. Sometimes it's simply inertia or an aversion to change, and in other cases, it's simply laziness. If you're thinking about moving on, these are situations where in most cases, that's the right move.
1. You have no room for growth
There are times when you like your job, your co-workers, and even your boss, but you still have to quit. One situation where that's true is if you work for a smaller company where there's clearly no room for growth for you.
That can happen when the company itself is no longer expanding or moving in new directions. The boss or the owner may be very happy to keep doing the same thing and many employees may be content with that as well.
If that means, however, that you're not learning new skills and have no hope at growth or advancement, then it may be time to move on. That's especially difficult when everything else about the job is a positive, but if you hope for more, then staying someplace where that's not likely is a mistake.
2. Hours get longer, wages stay the same
Sometimes, at nearly any job, you're expected to work more without getting a raise. Maybe there's an open position being filled or perhaps a co-worker has an extended absence for unplanned reasons.
When that happens for a few days or even a few weeks, it's not a big problem. If, however, you spend months working extended hours and your boss ignores any request for either relief or compensation, then it's time to move on.
3. You have a bad boss
Sometimes the person you work for is the problem. Your boss may be mean, lazy, or any other number of terrible things. If that happens it can make an otherwise pleasant and rewarding job miserable. If you find yourself in that position and you can't rectify it with an internal move or through talking with human resources, then it may be time to move on.
4. You're not pursuing your dreams
When my now 13-year-old was about four, I spent two years running a giant toy store. It was a dream job. I was paid well and worked for a supportive owner. It was a fun setting with happy, devoted customers and few people would have walked away.
The problem was that I wanted to be a writer. I had left journalism because my previous career as a newspaper editor was incompatible with having a young child. I had taken the toy store job in part because I thought I would pursue writing on the side.
In reality, retail hours left me little energy for creative pursuits. I liked the work and was living what would be a dream for many people, it just wasn't my dream.
Walking away from financial security and an owner I still call a close friend was not easy. It actually took me more than a year to go from piecing together a living to some sort of stability, but in the end, I've landed in an even better place.
Don't quit your job because you had a bad day or even a bad week. If, however, you're not happy and know that things won't get better, it's OK -- even admirable -- to move on. Quitting isn't failure or something to be ashamed of. It can be a path toward growth and a happier tomorrow if you leave your job for the right reason.