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Quitting your job

For most people, leaving student life is tough. After a degree, life should be a walk in the park, and your job a pleasant breeze that cheers and refreshes you. But how reasonable is this? And is it too soon to look forward to retirement?

If you're thinking of quitting, reflect on why?

You hate your boss. They're too fussy about your work, or ignore your contribution. They take credit for your efforts, are irrational or just incompetent. Worse still, they're in charge.

You hate your colleagues. They haven't invited you to the Friday drinks for the 19th week running. They're spreading rumours behind your back. You're convinced that for some reason, they want you out.

You hate the hours. You're being forced to work overtime. You barely have a social life any more, and your health is suffering.

You hate the work. You've found a job that suits you perfectly. Selling insurance over the phone is the ideal career for a shy, retiring ceramics graduate. Hand in glove, mate.

This isn't where you saw yourself. Maybe you've always wanted to open a sloth farm in Ecuador, do something exotic, but instead you've ended up living in Hull with your parents, and working at a meat factory.

You can't put your finger on it. You can't see the wood for the trees. When you draw upon your current situation in therapy, your psychoanalyst flees the room, screaming.

Have you really thought this through?

The grass is always greener: Irritating colleagues are everywhere, and most bosses have their difficulties. It would be hard to find any job that wasn't hard in some way, or anybody who didn't hate their job from time to time. Try keeping a diary, and monitor how you feel over a few weeks. If you're persistently unhappy and bored, or just prone to moaning, this will show it.

Debt: If you leave your job with nothing else to go to, you could well end up on the dole and in debt. Work out how much money you have to live off and then you'll know how long you've got to be jobless - if it's not long enough, sit tight until you find something new.

What sacrifices can you make? No work means no money, hence no holidays, no moving into a flat with your friends, no new clothes and no treats. Unless you're considering converting to Buddhism, this could be tough.

Talk it through: Before you do anything rash, talk things over with someone you trust. If you can't work out exactly why you're unhappy, then a friend or relative makes a better sounding board than your boss or colleagues. Hopefully they'll be able to help you put things into perspective.

Your CV: Unless you have a very good reason for leaving, most employers will think that less than eight months in a first job looks sketchy. A year is better. Would it be worth sticking it out? The experience you are gaining now might help you to get a job youll prefer in the future.

Talk it through for real: If you decide that you really are unhappy in your job, you owe it to yourself to raise it with your boss or colleagues. Ask for a one-to-one meeting with your line manager and set out clearly why you're unhappy. Beware that the whining graduate is a common stereotype you'll need to show a responsible attitude and a willingness to solve the problems you have set out. See it as an opportunity to put things right, rather than a last resort.

Employment law: If you're unhappy at work because of harassment or unsafe working conditions, then you are entitled to a better deal. If, after raising your grievance, your employer refuses to help, then you shouldn't have to resign. Seek the advice of an employment lawyer, or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Going for it
If you've decided to quit, it's a good idea to line something else up first. Reflect on your strengths and the kind of area you'd be happier working in, to avoid quitting your next job in the same circumstances. It's best to be discrete about your decision until you're out. You will need to write a formal resignation letter, and work a notice period. Whatever happens, leave nicely. It might be tempting to settle a few scores, but remember you'll need a reference.

Lastly, congratulate yourself. It's brave to walk away from a bad job, and it would be a waste of time to regret your decision. Make the most of your experience, throw a party, and move on.
(Written by Matt Davis)

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