Should You Quit Your Crappy Job Even Though You Have Student Loans?

i-hate-my-job

A recent Gallup poll found an astounding 70 percent of Americans either hate their jobs or are totally disengaged at work. The reasons vary, from overbearing bosses to unfulfilling work. Sound familiar?

So if your job totally sucks (i.e., you dread going to work every single day), you’re not alone. In fact, you’ve probably wondered a time or two if you should just quit.

Many people don’t like their jobs but stay because they have bills to pay — including student loan debt. So, the question you might be wondering is, can you quit your job despite having student loans?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” However, you have to be strategic about it. Here’s how:

Evaluate What You Don’t Like

Before you hand in your resignation, take some time to breathe and think. What is it that you don’t like about your job? What would you want to change moving forward?

This is an important exercise because you don’t want to hate your future job, too. Here are a few things to think about as you evaluate your next steps:

  • Culture: Do you like or dislike your company’s overall culture? Are they open minded? Do they value everyone’s opinions? Do you have to wear a suit every day or is it more casual? Does everyone work together or do people keep to themselves with their office doors closed?
  • Pay: Do you have an ability to make more money as time goes on, or is the company struggling and cutting back? Is there room for negotiation? Do they only give raises at certain times of the year? Have they laid people off recently?
  • Flexibility: Do you have to be at work from 9-5 or is there some wiggle room in your schedule? Are you allowed to work from home from time to time? Can you pick up your kids from school and then work later in the evening? Do they give you a hard time when you want to take time off?
  • Management: Is your time valued? Do they hold pointless meetings that seem to go on forever? Do they call and email you constantly or take a more hands-off approach?

Once you know the answers to these questions and can pinpoint what you like and don’t like, you then can search for a new job knowing exactly what you want.

Find a New Job Before Quitting Your Old One

When you have bills to pay, like student loans, you have to make sure you have a steady income. The best thing to do if you hate your job is work hard to get a new, better one.

I know it’s easier said than done, but now is the time if you’re miserable going to work every day. Here are some tips:

  • Research other companies in the area who employ people with similar skills as you. Keep them in an organized spreadsheet.
  • Search LinkedIn and connect with current employees of those companies — ask about potential job openings. Gone are the days where you can simply submit an application and wait to hear back. You have to be proactive if you want to get a new job.
  • Attend networking events and ask colleagues  in various industries out for coffee to pick their brains.

While you should be proactive, you should also be careful. Don’t post anything on social media about wanting to leave your job or the fact that you’re looking for new work. Instead, contact people you trust directly and let them know you’re looking.

Negotiate Your Pay

When you do finally secure that new job, negotiate your salary; employers often have some flexibility in their initial offer. Do your research ahead of time to find out what people in your position typically earn.

Ultimately, you can quit your job if you hate it, even if you have a large student loan payment. The important thing is to take your time with your decision. As much as you’d love to quit on the spot, you have to be strategic.

Identify what you don’t like about your work, do your research to find companies in the area who offer what you do want, and (quietly) network your way to a new position.

Once you find your new job, be armed with all the information you need to negotiate for higher pay. After all, the more money you can negotiate for yourself, the easier it will be to accelerate your student loan repayment.

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