I left my first full-time job shortly before reaching the 1-year mark, and it was the best decision I ever made. The company ended up downsizing and getting rid of almost half of its employees less than a year after I left, staff were not paid, and even worse, outsiders knew about the General Manager being fired before she was informed.

I remember when I was sitting in the room with my bosses after having handed them my resignation. They coaxed me to stay, citing reasons such as "You're a fresh grad. You should stay for at least 1 year if not it will look bad on you" and "You have so much potential here. No other company will value and train you the way we have."

But I decided to leave anyway. And I don't regret it. My friend who came in with me stayed...and recently was among those who lost their jobs when the CEO decided to downsize. 

When is a good time to leave? 

7 Reasons to Leave Your Job

1. Your skills are under-utilized, or not even put to use at all.

Sometimes the job you're in may not be the best fit for you. If you are not growing in your area of expertise, nor are you learning anything new, perhaps it is time to consider leaving. If you're consistently being passed over for the challenging projects, especially if you've voiced this out to your supervisor, it could be a clear sign that management simply doesn't trust that you are capable enough to do the job. You could either stay and hope for one day that they will finally see the light, but I usually give it about half a year before I leave, because impressions are pretty hard to change. 

You are not a photocopier, nor a coffee boy. Know the job that you were hired for, and make sure you're getting the due opportunities you deserve.

2. Competitors know that you're good, but your bosses are ignoring this fact

Now, I'm not advocating that you quit today and join the competitor tomorrow. Sometimes loyalty and ethics have to be considered as well.

A lot of HR directors look out for talents they can snatch over from their competition, and trust me, if you are good, your name will go around. Word spreads even faster in niche industries. Back then, I was being contacted by both clients and competitors with job offers even though there was no mention of my name anywhere on the company's web page (but my General Manager's was). When I asked them how they knew of me, they said industry insiders had told them about my good results. 

But when I raised the question of a promotion with my bosses, they said I had yet to meet their expectations.

3. You can't trust your boss

Many agreements are negotiated verbally in a company between employer and employee, and operate based on trust. When you find that you cannot trust your boss, that is an obvious flashing danger signal there. My boss initially said I would be promoted within 6 months if I met certain requirements, which would be reviewed and set periodically over this period. But because none of it was on paper, they claimed that I did not meet the criteria (even though I did). I could prove my results since it was all recorded, but because management didn't record their own "expectations", I had nothing to prove that my results indeed met expectations, thus I was deemed as not having done well enough. 

It was bullshit and I knew it. Even my colleagues knew it.

4. Your ethics conflict with your company's

My second job was great, in fact, I have nothing bad to say about the management. I was paid fairly, received good training, and pushed well beyond my comfort zone in terms of work. At times it felt overwhelming, but in retrospect, the whole experience was good for me. My direct supervisor was not only excellent at her work, she was also good in managing me and we had a very open communication policy whenever any one in the company had issues with someone else. My boss looked out for me, and was always willing to advise whenever I ran into difficulties on my projects. 

But the company was too profits-orientated, and the quality of their product was deteriorating. Their performance review mainly looked at measurable profits, rather than year-on-year improvement or clients feedback. My personal mantra is that quality has to come with profits, rather than at the expense of it. My supervisor agreed with me, but her boss didn't quite see eye to eye on this point, so I decided to leave for a place which had a better balance between quality and profits.

5. My job felt like a job - there was no fulfilment at all

Fulfilment is a subjective thing. It means different things to everyone, but can essentially be summarized into emotional rewards, professional fulfilment, or something even bigger.

After I realized all these problems in the management, it felt like I was just getting up every day to go to work for the paycheck. That didn't make me feel very good, nor useful to society on the whole. I felt more like I was deceiving our clients, with the substandard product we were giving them, rather than feel like I was truly giving them something of real value.

To make things worse, the initial motivation I had for wanting to achieve results had now disappeared, after knowing that the management's words simply could not be trusted. No matter how well I did, they would always create some sort of invisible higher standard, thus deeming me as not good enough. I felt I deserved better than that.

6. You are not being respected

There is no such thing as a lesser human being. Even the cleaning auntie who wipes the tables at a hawker centre deserves our respect, and if your bosses are not giving you that, then it is unlikely for you to go far in the company. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is deserving of at least basic respect and courtesy.

My CEO once scolded me for something which I still think I did not do wrong on, publicly humiliating me in front of all my colleagues. He yelled at me loudly and accused me of things I did not do, including not being a team player and hogging clients which I was supposed to share with my colleague due to different project responsibilities. This was again, pure bullshit. I knew it, and the colleague in question knew it. It was not only humiliating, but also extremely demeaning. 

I later found out that I was not the first employee he did this to - a former employee told me he once yelled at a pregnant woman and caused her miscarriage. Whether this is true or not, I cannot verify, but it does not matter. That incident only confirmed my suspicions of his questionable character after all the rumours I was hearing, and I decided I no longer wanted to work in a company which was his. I mulled over it for over two months, and handed in my resignation later after careful consideration and making sure it was my logic ruling my decision rather than just my riled up emotions alone.

7. The boss is bad

Today, this is the biggest consideration I take into account before accepting a job. During the interview, I ask about who my direct boss or supervisor will be, and request to meet with them as well if they're not already on the interviewing panel. I ask questions to find out their management style, how they handle their staff, and how they empower their teammates in their daily work. These are intrinsic factors that contribute to the overall work experience, and by far the most valuable aspect of the job to me. 

The first company I joined had a terrible CEO who was hated by former staff and suppliers, had a bad name for himself, and was known to bring in emotions into his work. It was so bad that I even once received a threatening email from a supplier, and I wasn't even involved in that part of the project! And yes, this is the same guy in question in my above paragraphs. 

The older generation will always advise us to stay loyal and not switch jobs so quickly. I agree, but you have to first make sure your loyalties are not misplaced. Times have changed, and we in Gen Y seem to have been labelled job-hoppers.

Yes, I will gladly admit that I'm a job-hopping Gen Y and I'm proud of it. But it is not the switching of jobs that makes me proud; rather, it is the fact that I know my value and am not afraid to leave when people don't recognize this.

As Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." My current job pays me less than my previous one, but I feel more rewarded doing the work that I do. I don't dread getting out of bed for work, nor do I complain about sending emails at 1am, because it brings me emotional and psychological fulfilment. And I know it is helping me grow as a better person, a better worker.

Life is too short to waste it on a bad job.

What were some of YOUR reasons for leaving a job? Share with me in the comments below!


  1. I would just like to say that everything you've written resonates with me. I had a bad experience with management that brought their emotions and personal vendettas into work as well. Good on you, and hope you continue to be happy in the job you love right now :)

  2. Tks very much for your post.

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