When Is It Time To Leave Your Job

By: Sean Caruthers

Years ago I worked as a computer technician for a large shipping company. Basically, I drove to client sites and installed or upgraded computer hardware and software. I liked the job. During March of 2000, gas prices started to rise in the U.S. The federal mileage reimbursement wasn't really compensating for the cost of gas. The majority of the technicians in the office wanted our employer to help us make up the difference in the cost of gas. Our supervisors were sympathetic. However, the general manager was not sympathetic at all. He said, that the cost of fuel was affecting everyone especially the company. He said the company had to fuel hundreds of trucks and planes. And customers did not expect the cost of shipping to increase due to an up tick in gas prices. Of course, everyone grumbled about what he said.

Over the next three months, the price of gas rose .27. Now the grumbling had turned into complaining. Our supervisors attempted to shorten our routes as to save miles. It worked as long as a technician did not have to drive to multiple client sites.

Normally we had to return to the office to clock out. Sometimes a client site would be near a technician's home or after work destination but he would have to drive back to the office to clock out. The trip could cost an additional fill up per week.

By July, the complaining had reached the general manager. He called a meeting described as resolving our gas issues. Every technician in the group attended the meeting. There were rumors that we would receive gas cards, coupons for oil changes, or just be heard. The day of the meeting came. The general manager walked in and said, we would not receive anything but the federal gas mileage allowance. He also said "You vote with your feet". You vote with your feet. What did he mean by that? He explained that the company was not going to change its position on gasoline reimbursement. So, if we didn't like it then we should do something about it. Oh, I got it. Since the company would not change then I would have to change. I decided to find another job that didn't require me to use my personal vehicle.

By September the price of regular unleaded had rose to $1.79. But that didn't affect me for long because I got a new job by the end of the month.

During my last two weeks on that job in early October, our department held its monthly meeting. During this meeting, my supervisor announced that I would be leaving the company to pursue another opportunity. My colleagues were shocked and even gasped out loud. After the meeting, several of my coworkers approached me to get the scoop on my departure. And what follows is what I told them. Do you remember that meeting with the general manager last summer? Yes, they replied. Do you recall what he said? Well, he said a lot of things. Yes, he did. Well I distinctly recall him saying, "You vote with your feet". And that is what I did. And it feels good. Needless to say, one of my colleagues said I am sure that's not what he meant. No, that is what he meant.

Anyway, I spent the next three years taking public transportation to work. And I sold my car because I drove it only twice in 16 months, escaping the cost of gas for three years.

So how do you know when its time to leave your job? Or vote with your feet? You have to take an inventory of yourself and work conditions. You may have to inventory yourself and work conditions because things change constantly. Let's examine these factors in depth.

Your employer hired you to do a job. What are the duties of that job? Are you fulfilling your job duties? Don't just answer off the top of your head. Think about it. Are you fulfilling your job duties? Your last performance review should help you answer this question from your employer's perspective.

Based on your last review, how has your employer characterized your performance? Did you receive any praise? Are there areas for improvement? Is it balanced, fair and objective?

Your annual review is a snap shot of your performance over the last year. Everyone enjoys approval and acceptance. However, your areas for improvement may hold the key to advancement, greater opportunities and professional growth. In rare instances, your performance review may indicate areas for personal growth.

In the past, two annual performance reviews noted my allowing things to fall through the cracks and not following through. And I admit that following through has been a challenge for me at times. And I have experienced the consequences of failing to follow through in my personal life. That is why I attempt to resolve issues the first time around.

You can learn from your accomplishment too. Does your review praise your skill, knowledge, motivation, and or abilities? If so then maybe you're ready for new challenges that another employer can offer.

Is your review balanced, fair and objective? How can you tell? During the review, ask who contributed to your appraisal. You may be surprised by the answer. In the past, I have been surprised by who has contributed to my reviews. And I have been surprised by who was not a contributor to my review.

If your review is on the mark for better or worse then there are other ways to know when its time to vote with your feet.

Things are constantly changing in the workplace. Has the working conditions changed? In my case, the cost of gasoline and the employer's decision not to intervene changed the working conditions. Anything and everything can change the working conditions.

Do you have a new boss? Has your work load increased due to attrition? Do you have to retool to do your job? Are you still personally comfortable in the workplace? Are you being under utilized? Do want new challenges? Do you want a higher salary? Anyone one of these reasons can cause you to vote with your feet. In the past, I have left two jobs because they would not pay me what we agreed upon.

You have to take into account your industry when making a decision based on working conditions. For instance, if your career requires you to work outside then leaving your current employer may be of ill effect. You may have to change careers to escape working outside. The same applies to working shifts, weekends, and holidays. If you don't want those work conditions then avoid them from the beginning. Working conditions vary from employer to employer, so find out about the work conditions before you accept the position. You will be happy that you did.

Deciding to leave your job is never to be taken lightly. Your job impacts your relationships, lifestyle and overall health. You have to be selective about the employer you hire. Yes, the employer you hire. The phrase denotes you're selecting employers based on meeting your personal needs. There is nothing wrong with this type of thinking. People do this all the time. You want the employer of your choice to meet your salary, scheduling, benefits, and commuting needs.

Finally, you vote with your feet. When is it time to leave your job? Ultimately, you have to decide. Take an inventory. You may be surprised by what you discover.

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