Sick of your job? Even sicker of the excuses that keep you chained to your desk week after week after week?
Then do something about it.
Taking the plunge isn’t for everyone, of course — before you do it, you need to take a major gut check and confirm that it’s the right move. Once that’s done, you need to actually follow through. Cold feet is a common problem for fence-sitters: professionals unhappy in their jobs at the moment, but even more worried about what may come.
If you truly believe that the grass is greener, you may well be right. Experts enthuse that this is the best time to quit a job in years. While every situation is different and you shouldn’t confuse macro statistics with your micro situation, that has to be encouraging news.
Here’s a look at some of the most compelling arguments in favor of taking the plunge this week, or at least this year. How many do you agree with?
- The Unemployment Rate Is Super Low
The U.S. unemployment rate flattened out close to 4% last year, the level commonly associated with “full employment.” But it’s forecast to move even lower, further tightening an already taut labor market. For newly liberated workers, that means more positions open and fewer bodies to fill them. The likely outcome: a seller’s market for labor.
- The Economy Continues to Grow
Low unemployment is just one storyline in a tale of steadily brightening economic horizons.
Following years of anemic recovery from the worst recession in two generations, the U.S. economy is finally hitting its stride. GDP growth could hit 3% in 2018, breaking through a ceiling long thought uncrackable in the post-recession milieu. Reading the economic tea leaves is a fool’s errand, but it seems likely that employers will continue to hire — and businesses to grow — for at least a few more quarters. If you’re ready to get out there, this is as good a time as any.
- Demand for Skilled Workers Has Never Been Higher
Okay, that might be a bit hyperbolic — these things are hard to measure, and the workforce has grown so much over the past few decades that greater demand doesn’t necessarily mean more acute demand.
But the fact that there’s a vast skills gap — a slew of unfilled positions in fields from high-tech manufacturing to boardroom leadership, exacerbated by creaky training and credentialing protocols — is great news for qualified free agents whose labor is worth more than ever. Whether you’re among the thousands of seasoned executives in transition or an experienced welder who knows how to build ‘em like they used to, there’s a role with your name on it out there — and you can just about name your price for it.
- Capital Costs Remain Low
Despite unmistakable signs of economic strength, capital costs remain fairly low. (If you’re in the market for a new home, for instance, you’ll notice that mortgage rates remain near historic lows — though they’re significantly higher than they were a year ago.) If you’re looking to jump ship and finally tackle the business idea you’ve been kicking around for a while, you can still borrow from the discount bin.
Creeping inflation seems poised to bring the party to a close sometime soon. File that in the “sense of urgency” folder.
- Lots of Other Folks Are Taking the Plunge
Hey, at least you’ll have company! By some metrics, the “quit rate” is the highest it’s been since the mid-2000s, well before the recession. By others, it’s higher than at any time since the boom times of the late 1990s.
Does this mean you’ll have to compete against lots of super-qualified candidates for open positions? Perhaps, but remember the low unemployment rate: most qualified candidates are happily employed, getting regular raises and bonuses to stay in place. And the fact that so many ambitious professionals are on the open market is great news for budding entrepreneurs seeking like-minded partners.
- The Networking Ecosystem Is Humming
Speaking of partner-hunting entrepreneurs …
Networking has never been easier. No matter where you live and do business, you’ll find a peer group that aligns with your personal, professional and demographic profiles. Young entrepreneurs? Human resources professionals? Master tradespeople? A world of networking awaits — as do the serendipitous connections that form the basis of any fruitful business endeavor.
- You’re Not Being Challenged
Well, are you?
If you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you can’t see how things can change in the near term, don’t wait around to find out for sure. Seeking out a new challenge could be your best career move yet.
- You’re Too Stressed to Perform at Peak
Being challenged at work shouldn’t mean dealing with impossible amounts of stress. If you’re doing the work of three full-time employees and your boss doesn’t seem to care, do what’s right for your mental health and cut bait. Employee-friendly employers do exist.
- You’re Not Seeing Eye to Eye With Your Team
Don’t agree with the direction your team is taking? Don’t have the power to change it, and don’t expect a promotion (or more feedback-receptive boss) to change that anytime soon?
Then stop banging your head against a wall. Find a work environment where you’re actually heard — or create your own.
- You’re Wading Through a Toxic Work Environment
Not being heard isn’t the worst thing that can happen in the workplace. If you feel disrespected or unsafe for any reason, there’s no reason to stick around a second longer — or even give notice that you’re bailing. Again, it’s all about looking out for number one.
Take the Plunge Before It’s Too Late
Though it’s less common than ever, plenty of professionals remain with the same employer for the bulk of their careers — moving from one organization to the next just a handful of times before hanging up their hats for good.
Not all of them plan their careers so. Many feel bound to their employers by inertia or uncertainty. They worry more about what awaits on the outside than whatever deficiencies they identify with their current employers.
The sad truth is: the longer you wait to take the plunge, the less likely it is that you’ll actually make it.
Why wait any longer? If the reasons above make a compelling case, your time may be at hand.