This week, I wrote about when it makes financial sense to quit your job, which might sound like a ridiculous question. In this economy, does it ever make sense to leave a job? Well, yes, it turns out, and sometimes doing so can even be a smart financial move.
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As I was researching this story, my first big surprise was just how common it is to leave jobs voluntarily. Even now, in the midst of a sluggish economy, between 1.5 and 2 million people quit their jobs each month. That number has come down, though, and a useful paper from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of people quitting jobs appears to vary inversely with the economy. That makes sense: When people feel less secure, they hold onto the jobs they have. Still, the fact that the number of people quitting is still so high shows just how flexible the job market is. People—many people—leave jobs every day.
As for why people leave their jobs, the reasons are as varied as the types of jobs that exist. People leave to care for their children (or their parents), because they’re miserable, or just because they want to try something new. One of the people I interviewed for the article, Chrisanne Sternal, explained that she simply felt she could not juggle the demands of raising her 18-month-old son as well as her forty-hour a week job as a marketing consultant. Her son has some special needs which require extra doctors’ appointments. Every day, she says, she feels like she’s letting somebody down.
Other people’s stories were driven by the dream of replacing their job with something big. Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne, the founders of Georgetown Cupcake, who were recently profiled on Alpha Consumer, explained that they left their jobs in fashion and venture capital, respectively, because they had always wanted to launch their own bakery. They knew it was a risk, but they decided they were willing to take it—and now, of course, that risk has more than paid off.
Some of the career coaches and experts I interviewed for the story made the point that if a person is completely miserable in their job, then the money concerns can be secondary. If your job is making you depressed, for example, it can make it harder to move forward and look for new opportunities.
What do you think: Can it be financially responsible to quit your job, even in a down economy? What, if anything, would motivate you to quit?