Quit when you've had enough
Story time. After reading Financial Samurai's new post about his 5 years of unemployment, I started thinking maybe stories are cool and I need to share a good one.
Basically, I have been full-time 40 hours a week since mid 2008, the week after I graduated college. Before that I worked part time to support my college habit and a crappy room in a house full of drug dealers. Don't laugh - I am dead serious. Going to college without a silver spoon means you have to make some lifestyle choices that are borderline dangerous.
During my stint of ~10 years as a mechanical engineer I have been through 4 companies. Every one of them paid more than the last, and I never regretted leaving a place to get paid more. Even if the working conditions are horrible, you can always tough it out while submitting resumes and likely get hired somewhere else with a pay bump when you feel like it. This strategy only works if you are a go-getter. If you like to be complacent and sit around, I suggest getting a government job or big company gig so you can just sit around and climb the ladder. However, if you need that money and you are willing to take career risks to get it, you are going to make some choices that a normal person may cringe at. Like leaving a perfectly fine job with killer benefits because it is boring and stupid.
So here I am: working the defense industry in the Silicon Valley in early 2010 during the market crash. We experienced a reduction in force (RIF, mass layoff) of about 60% of our people within a year timeframe, and there were more layoffs on the horizon.
Me, being the ass-kicker that I was, (especially in my 20's,) was not going to be layed off involuntarily. It was likely they wanted to keep me because I was the only person on the site of roughly 2,000 mouth breathers who actually delivered/completed a project for the customer in the 3 years I worked there. I am quite serious. Anybody who has ever worked on a government contract knows they rarely are completed, usually they are just billed until the money stops coming and then they shut them down. Also most of the processes put in place are solely there to give lazy bossy people a desk to sit at while they collect, and they will do absolutely everything in their power to stop you from doing your job. Ah, the government contractor.
Let's not get hung up on how little most people did there. Suffice to say that the place was highly political and obviously not very result oriented. They had killer benefits, a pension, and structured career advances. Literally all you had to do to advance was sit around. Bad environment, very toxic place. Anyway they were having RIF's bi-monthly or so and I had a few people looking out for me so I didn't have to worry too much. I was very worried earlier that year in 2010 because I was buying a house, and at that time if I would have lost my job, I would have lost my credit and missed a great opportunity to buy a place at the very bottom of the market.
So anyways, one day I just decided that I had had enough. Too much politics and useless position jockeying and no work pushed my interest out the door. I had a safety net of about 6 months in place, and I knew I could work side hustles to keep the bread coming for a few years if I needed to. In fact, most of my pre-college work was a side hustle now that I think of it and it payed the bills for sure. And it sure beat the heck out of sitting behind a desk with a bunch of useless lazy ticks in the defense industry!
The company had a standing offer for anybody who left voluntarily. As I waited the offer kept getting better and better, and finally I took it. From what I recall, this is what it entailed:
- ~2 months of full pay after you left
- ~20% of your yearly salary as a severance package
- They liquidated your pension and payed it to you (after 4 years this turned out to be roughly ~30% of my yearly take home)
So I walked into the biggest bosses office I could find. I sat there and told him quite plainly, all full of 20-something-year-old bravado, that:
"This is the worst job that I have ever had"
And of course I was no longer interested in working for this company. He proceeded to initiate the paperwork for my departure and shook my hand and that was that.
And the funny thing was, I had an interview the very next day. I interviewed well, I got the job. AND it was a 20% increase in base salary to boot. I proceeded to take my 2 weeks off while still getting paid from the defense contractor. They were arguably the best 2 weeks of my life.
Now I manage the place after a couple solid promotions. Also I have learned more in the last few years than I would have at school or anywhere else for that matter. I am a highly desirable candidate for almost any position.
In short: you have an internal mechanism that will tell you when you have had enough. Listen to it.