How to Tell When It’s Time to Leave Your Accounting Job


It’s one of the toughest calls to make: how do you know when it’s time for you to stop complaining about your accounting or finance job, and to start looking for a new one? Here are some signs that you should be preparing your exit.

Do you hate your job? Can’t stand your bully of a supervisor? Aren’t earning the salary you expected when you interviewed for the position? In many professional situations, patience can prove to be a virtue. It can be in your best interests to play the waiting game, gritting your teeth and bearing whatever misfortunes you need to, in order to progress in your career. As often as not, persevering and paying your dues can deliver results in the long run, helping you to slowly scale the corporate ladder.

But that doesn’t mean you’re duty bound to stick it out at every job you commit to – especially when that accounting or finance job isn’t doing anything for your professional or personal growth. There’s a time for putting your head down and slogging through the less pleasant elements of a position, in order to emerge better off. But there’s also a time for cutting your losses and hightailing it out of the place (respectfully and gracefully, of course).

So how do you distinguish between a mediocre job you should hang onto, at least for a while, and one that you’d be wise to cut loose? Use the following set of criteria as your guide to determine whether or not you should quit.

There’s nothing left for you to learn

A key mark of a good job is the availability of fresh opportunities and challenges for learning and growth. Your work should force you to spread your wings as an individual and a professional. Ideally, it should help you learn new accounting and finance skills on a consistent basis, as well as broader professional and social skills, like managing a group or speaking in public. If it isn’t regularly giving you either the room or tools to build your repertoire and continue your professional development, you might need to start looking elsewhere.

When you become complacent – or worse, downright bored – in a job, and have the sense that you’re simply operating on autopilot, with nothing left to learn, it’s time to get out.

Your work should force you to spread your wings as an individual and a professional.

You’ve got mismatched values

Different companies have different corporate cultures, philosophical commitments, and office environments. For your own success as well as that of your employer’s, it’s critical that you both share the same values about how to do business, how to treat people, and so on – in other words, that you’re the right fit for their specific corporate culture. Maybe they expect everyone to work weekends, and that’s not something you’re capable of, or willing to commit to at this point. Or maybe your boss’ management style rubs you the wrong way (there’s a reason that they say employees quit their managers, not their jobs).

The longer you stick with a company that sees the world differently than you do, the more keenly you’ll feel that discrepancy. As an employee in an accounting or finance organization, you need to recognize that the values held by your company leadership will not change, no matter how hard you fight them on it. But that cuts both ways: as much as you might try to align yourself with values that aren’t your own, you can’t change who you are, either (or you can, but you’ll probably be unhappy about it). Spare yourself the potential strain and conflict, and find an organization you connect with. There are plenty of fish in the sea, after all; you just need to track down the right one.

The job market’s come a-calling
Even if you’re relatively content in your current position, you still might benefit from a change of scenery. For example, if you start noticing opportunities on the job market that you suspect would help accelerate your career and expose you to newer, more meaningful skills than your current position, it could be time for you to pull out. After all, everyone knows that the job market is not always booming, especially in recent years; there are many people who are struggling to find the right rebound job after having been laid off.

All the more reason, then, to strike while the iron’s hot. Rather than focusing on what you stand to lose by quitting, think about the opportunity costs of staying. Who knows? You might find yourself in the fortunate position of having to choose between offers.

You’re grossly underpaid

We’ve all heard it before: money can’t buy happiness. And indeed, the size of your salary probably won’t be the only factor – let alone the most important one – in determining how satisfied you are with your job.

There are plenty of fish in the sea, after all; you just need to track down the right one.

But if money isn’t everything, neither is it nothing. You might enjoy your job – you might even love it. But if you feel that you’re unfairly uncompensated, or you’re struggling to make ends meet, you should carefully consider your options. It’s entirely possible to be happy at work and be paid fairly; you just have to be willing to aim higher. 

The ship is sinking

A vital component of success is being part of an organization that is dynamic and moving forward – not struggling to keep an even keel or declining at a rapid clip. Ideally, you want to be where the action is, in a company and industry that are consistently growing and driving change.

This is why it’s important for you to stay abreast of industry trends, so that you can take a proper pulse of your company and its overall health. If you’re working for an organization whose profits, credibility, and morale are waning, now’s the time to cash in your chips.

While there’s certainly something to be said for giving every job a fair shake, as well as for understanding that your dream position won’t immediately fall into your lap, that doesn’t mean you should settle for working for a company that’s foundering, or in an environment that’s fundamentally unsatisfying, or for a paycheque that makes you feel unvalued. As a rule, you’re better off looking for a job from a position of strength, i.e., while you still have one in hand. But do yourself a favour, and start looking, while you still can. Because sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!