You work with bullies.
Nobody likes a meanie, especially at work. Colleagues and, worse, bosses who routinely put you down and make you feel inferior create a toxic environment that you would understandably want to vacate.
But first try talking to the offender, Hannon suggested. "When you talk to the person who is making your life miserable, you may find they are unaware and clueless about their behavior and its impact on you," she said.
You earn too little.
Even if you love what you do, working at a place that doesn't value you enough to offer you fair pay, along with expected raises, can be understandably discouraging.
Before you head for the exit, though, consider possibilities for why you didn't get a raise. Of course, don't be afraid to ask for one, too. "If a higher salary isn't an option, consider asking for other benefits," Haefner said.
"There are definitely ways to bump up take-home salary that go beyond pay." In lieu of a raise, she suggested requesting additional days off, the option to work from home, a new office, a stepped-up title or additional training.
You can't get a promotion.
Whether you're being overlooked or you simply have no room to grow, having no apparent way up is a good reason to see your way out.
Still, you should make sure it's not you who's holding you down. Hannon advised volunteering for new opportunities and showcasing your abilities to prove you are worthy of a step up. "Raise your hand and ask for new duties," she said. "Fear of failure can stop you, but the adrenaline from being a little scared can be magic."
You have no work friends.
Surrounded by the right people, you likely can make do anyplace. On the other hand, if you feel lost in a sea of strangers, you're bound to want to escape.
Before you leave an unfriendly work environment, consider putting yourself out there and trying to connect with your co-workers. Hannon suggested joining the company softball or kickball team, starting a walking group at lunch or volunteering together. "Find joy around the edges of your job," she said.
You don't fit in with company culture.
Let's say you're not a morning person, but your boss expects you to clock in every morning at 7. Odds are you're not going to do well on the job. Or if you're passionate about philanthropy but work for a so-called charitable organization that spends more on overhead costs than supporting the cause, you surely won't be happy.
Ideally, you'd figure out during the interview process whether the job and company are a good match for you. Otherwise, an ill-fitting corporate culture is much like a bad boyfriend — you can't expect the other party to change.
Your only options are to alter yourself to suit the company or leave, said Haefner. "Office culture can be as important as workload and duties," she said. "Ultimately, you have to be comfortable in the place you spend the majority of your waking hours."
Comfort can be highly desirable, but feeling challenged on the job can propel your career — while the opposite is also true. "When people are unhappy at work, they might not realize this, but it's often because they're bored," Hannon said. "They get really comfy where they are, but then they're bored."
To shake things up, she recommended taking opportunities to perform new duties and learn new skills. Simply de-cluttering your office might even be enough to refresh your spirits at work, she suggested. It gives you the opportunity to make "decisions about your life — what you value and don't value."
Also, consider helping yourself by helping out a young or new colleague. "Mentoring someone can reinvigorate you," Hannon said. "You get to see your job through new eyes."
You're financially ready.
Having enough money saved up to leave your job is typically called retirement rather than quitting. But if you're not quite ready to fully retire, financially or otherwise, you still have to be sure you can afford to quit before you give up your paycheck.
Have enough money in your emergency fund to cover at least a year's worth of expenses before you quit, Hannon recommended. Also, work hard to pay down your debts lest they drain your emergency fund before you find a new job. "Debts are a dream killer," she said.
Also be sure to plot out a plan for your health coverage and retirement savings, said Nicole Mayer, a financial advisor and life transition specialist based in Riverwoods, Ill.
If you're married and your spouse is covered by an employer's health plan, you can switch to that policy. Otherwise, you can go with your company's COBRA coverage or find an individual plan.
As for a retirement plan, unless you have less than $5,000 in your account, you can typically let any savings in your 401(k) plans or similar employer-sponsored retirement account sit. "Just take a breather," she said. "You have a lot of changes going on. Understand your whole picture. Get a financial plan set before you start making moves with your retirement dollars."
You have a new opportunity.
The best reason to leave your job is because you've been offered a better one. Congratulations!
However, if you're opting to switch gears and enter a new field or pursue a passion, be sure you're serious and ready before you quit your day job. "The people who have been most successful at switching careers did their homework," said Hannon, noting that it can take three to five years of preparation to make such a big life change.
"First, try moonlighting or volunteering to make sure your next career is really what you want to be doing."