I've chosen to leave 5 jobs during my career — here's how I knew it was time

  • 71% of Americans were thinking about or actively looking for a new job, according to a 2017 survey.
  • There are many reasons people quit their jobs – lack of upward mobility, a bad boss, and low pay are some of the most common.
  • Author Jessica Thiefels details here how she knew it was time to leave five of the jobs she’s had in the last seven years.

I’ve had six jobs in the last seven years – all of which led me to where I am now:Running my own business.

Of those six jobs, I chose to leave five, and I’m not alone in my decision to move on relatively frequently. In fact, in a 2017 survey, 71% of Americans surveyed said they were thinking about or actively looking for a new job.

If you’re thinking about switching jobs, but aren’t sure if you should, here are some of the signs that told me it was time to move on.


I was ready to move up — and I couldn’t do it in my current role

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A recent Glassdoor report examined 5,000 resumes of transitioning employees to find out why employees left their previous roles. One common reason was “job title stagnation.” This led to more employee turnover than issues with work-life balance, leadership, or a company’s compensation and benefits policies, the study found.

In almost every position, I left for this exact reason as well. I knew I was ready to take a larger role but couldn’t do it with the current company. Promotions were put off, raises were off the table, and it was clear that the business was at a stand-still – along with my career arc.

You can see the effort I was making to always move up from one job to the next when you look at my job trajectory. I started out with a marketing copywriter job, which led to several editor positions and managerial jobs. Today, I own my own business.

While there were plenty of other reasons why I left each job, my desire to do more and get better was at the center of it all.


I wasn’t getting support when I needed it most

I remember sitting in meetings at my very first job and thinking, “How am I ever going to contribute to these conversations?” I felt like the idiot in the room, with no big ideas, feedback or suggestions. Worse, I wasn’t getting any support. Tasks were put on my plate, and I was expected to read between the lines or understand something that was never explained.

I was as green as they come. It was my first professional job as a writer, so I had a lot of learning to do – but no one to teach me. When that company let my entire team go except for me, I ended up with a job in social media, something I’d never managed before. But because of that opportunity, I started down the digital marketing path, and I’m now a social media coach.

At the time, however, it was both fun and frustrating. It was fun to dictate my own rules for testing, posting, and planning. It was frustrating, however, when I needed the support of my boss, who would simply not show up for a meeting or send a one-sentence response to a long, in-depth email.


I had a string of bad bosses

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Unsurprisingly, a 2017 survey from BambooHR found that 44% of employees left a job because of a bad boss at some point during their careers.

I’m no stranger to this challenge, and it was one of the most significant reasons for leaving my first job, where I had not one but three bad bosses. One boss was too busy, another didn’t know how to manage people, and another had no interest in what our team was doing or in making sure we were successful.

When I get asked the question, “What was your favourite job in the past and why?” in a job interview, my answer reflects the value of good bosses. My answer, for many years, was McDonalds, which is where I worked in high school. This always earns an interesting facial expression from the interviewer, followed by, “Why?”

My response is simple: I had great bosses. It made the job more fun and interesting and I felt supported and valued.


I was stuck in a one-dimensional position

aslysun/Shutterstock

When I got a job as an associate copy editor job, I was beyond thrilled. It was a huge move for me, and I was going to be working for what I thought was my dream company.

But I quickly learned, within the first day, that I was just a number and that my job was to churn out as much content as possible. I went from a position where I was managing contributors, editing content, managing social media strategy, and mentoring interns, to a job that felt one-dimensional and less meaningful. To say I was unhappy is an understatement.

I had also moved from a 70-person company to one with 3,500 employees worldwide, which meant I went from being a medium-sized fish in a small pond to the smallest fish in a very large pond.

In the end, while I was beyond happy to leave after one and a half years, I learned a lot about efficiency and editing at that time in my life. I still refer back to editing advice I received from senior editors when I worked there.

While I left every job for one reason or another, I learned something in every position I held. Now, as I run my own business, I refer back to all my job experiences as a playbook of what to do and what not to do. I know I’ll continue adding to it for the rest of my career.

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