Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) Stay at a Job You Hate

Staying at a job you hate can be brutal. Whether you hate your boss, your co-workers, your job duties, or something else, staying at your job may cause stress and extra exhaustion. However, don’t draft your resignation letter just yet. Although sticking it out can be difficult, there are also plenty of reasons to not quit. You have to think about your future in addition to your immediate bills.
If you’re not careful, you may quit your job in frustration and then be unable to pay your bills; you also might hurt your career. You also need to be careful to take the right next job if you leave, because taking the wrong one can hurt you. So how should you figure out what to do? There are several questions to consider when determining whether to stay at a job you hate; here are the main ones.

1. What are your reasons?

Office space
How much do you want (or need) to quit your job? | 20th Century Fox

Many people dislike their jobs. According to a Gallup report, 70% of American workers are not engaged at work, and if you are not engaged, it’s easy to begin to resent and even hate coming to work. However, if you are simply bored or disinterested, you probably don’t need to quit until you have something better lined up. If you hate your boss and he or she is literally making you cry or shake with anger, then you might want to consider quitting sooner than later. If you are experiencing workplace discrimination then your best bet is to find out as much about the legal implications of discrimination at work; you may need to quit sooner than later or file a claim if necessary.
Before quitting your job, you need to consider your reasons. If your reasons are more superficial (you’re bored or you dislike your co-workers talking) then you should stick it out for a while. If your reasons are more detrimental to your health or well-being, you may need to quit sooner.

2. What is your financial situation like?

Money Stuffed in the Mattresses
Money stuffed under a mattress | iStock.com

If you have an abundance of money, and you can afford to continue your way of life for several months (or even years) without being seriously affected, then you may be able to quit your job right now. On the other hand, if you have significant debt (the average debt for U.S. resident adults is $3,766 and $7,494 per card that usually carries a balance), or you can’t afford your bills for very long without a job, then you may need to wait to quit until you have another job.
You should also consider your emergency fund: If you have several months’ worth of expenses saved, then you are in a better place to quit your job than you would be with only enough money to pay for a few weeks.

3. How will quitting your job affect your career?

people at job fair
Job seekers at a career fair | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like all that matters is your current situation: If you are truly miserable at your job, then you might want to quit immediately. However, you have to think about your career as well. Even if you have enough money to survive, quitting your job now may affect your ability to reach your career goals. You may be set back by having less experience, or you may find that it’s difficult to explain to interviewers why you quit your job. One advantage of looking for a job while you are still employed is that you look employable (because you already are), and because you can explain that you are looking to move forward, that you want to learn new skills, or that you are ready to have a new job title.
If you quit now, you also may risk harming your position in your field, especially if you leave quickly or angrily, and your boss has many connections and won’t have anything kind to say about you.

4. Are you going to be fired soon?

fired from job
Quitting before you’re fired can be a smart decision | iStock.com

If you know that your work hasn’t been the best it could be, if you’re constantly late to meetings and you frequently miss work, or your boss has actually hinted that you are going to be fired, then you might want to quit first. Of course, you still need to think about how you will pay your bills and how your career will be affected.
If you are wondering if you are going to get fired, then now might be a good time to have a frank conversation with your boss about how you are doing and how you can improve. You should also consider whether the signs indicate that you will be fired (it isn’t a good sign if your responsibilities are shrinking and your performance reviews are poor).

5. How does quitting affect your family?

family on a couch
In many cases, changing jobs will affect your family to some degree | iStock.com

If you’re married, in a committed relationship, have children, or have people who depend on you financially, then you need to think about how quitting your job will affect them. Will you be able to afford everything you could before? Will the stress of being jobless affect your relationship?
On the other hand, your job may be negatively affecting your relationships already. If you are constantly stressed or upset because you hate your job, your partner or kids might be feeling the stress as well. A long commute or extreme hours also may affect your family negatively. If your marriage or relationship is in trouble, you may decide to quit rather than lose an important relationship.
The decision of whether to quit your job is a big one. Staying at a job you hate can be miserable, but quitting can cause many issues, so it’s important to consider both sides.