6 Powerful Signs It May Be Time to Leave Your Job

6 Powerful Signs It May Be Time to Leave Your Job
Design by Judy Moore in Canva
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As film freelancers, we can never get too comfortable where we are, and sometimes the best decision is to leave your job and move on.  If we want to succeed, we need goals and a long-term plan, and our current job may no longer fit that plan.

At a seminar early in my career, I remember asking a much more experienced a.d. what we should do if we get a better job offer.  Is it ever okay to leave the show we’re on?

He replied that of course, we should leave for a better job offer.  As freelancers, we’re responsible for our careers, and it’s up to us to seize the opportunities that arise.

I’ve gotten quite a few work offers while I’ve been on other jobs.  Some I took and some I didn’t.  It’s up to us to decide whether to stay or go on to the next job.

Here are six powerful signs it may be time to leave your job and move on:

  1. You’re working on a low-budget project and you get an offer that pays more.

Sometimes high-profile people in the industry work on low-budget passion projects. Such was the case on Rust.

However, working on someone else’s low-budget project usually won’t help your career.  You probably won’t get to work on their next big-budget project, so it may make sense to take another job offer for more money.

Working on one or two low-budget projects early in your career to build up your credits is fine, but if you’re receiving job offers for more money, it’s probably time to leave the low-budget work behind and start getting paid what you’re worth.

We’ve all got bills to pay.

2. There’s no opportunity to move up to the next level in your career on the show you’re working on.

It can be frustrating to feel stuck and not making progress in your career, especially when you know you’re ready to move up.  I know the feeling.

If you’ve made your desires known and there are no opportunities where you are, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.  Hopefully, you’ve kept up your contacts so you can let people know you’re ready to move up to the next level.

When the right opportunity does come, seize it and step up to the next level of your career.

It beats staying stuck in a job with no chance of advancement.  You’ve got to take some risks to succeed.

3. You’re in the union but working on a non-union show and have the opportunity to work on a union show.

Not every union show is a great opportunity, but you will get health and pension contributions made on your behalf.  You undoubtedly spent a significant amount of money to join the union, so reap the benefits.

Each union has many different contracts, and pay rates are often relatively low in the low-budget agreements.  You may be able to get a better pay rate on a non-union job, but you won’t get benefits.

A union job that pays full scale may be worth taking, though.  You probably joined the union for the ability to work on shows that pay full scale, so if an opportunity presents itself, take it.

4. The people you’re working for treat others poorly.

If there’s ever a scenario where I’d fly out the door the first chance I got, this is it.  You do not owe loyalty to people who mistreat you or other crew members.

I’ve worked on shows with high crew turnover, and it’s often because one or more people at the top make everyone’s life miserable, and the show always feel more difficult than it should.

And don’t get me started about the people who want you on your feet every moment of the day and never think you should sit down.

Considering the grueling hours we work in our industry, the least we deserve is decent people around us.  If that’s not the case in your current job, be ready to bail when the time is right, which may be now.

As I’ve written before, choose the people you work for carefully.  It’s never worth working for people who mistreat the crew.

There’s no upside to working on those jobs, as conditions rarely, if ever, improve.  You’ll only end up with sore feet, an aching back, and your job satisfaction in shreds.

5. You’re offered a job in the area of the industry you want to work in.

If you’re dying to work on feature films and you finally get a call to work on one, take the job.  The same goes for every other area of the industry, and you should be positioning yourself for the kind of career you desire.

However, keep in mind that there’s usually more work and more opportunities to move up to the next level in television than in features.

You’ll also spend more time on distant locations working in features, which may not be what you want if you have a family or don’t like working far from your home base.

6. You get the chance to work with top people in your field.

Years ago, I had a job that was just fine when I got a call to work on a film with a legendary director.  I took it.

Opportunities like that don’t come along every day, and we have to jump at chances like that when they present themselves.

Part of being a freelancer is knowing when to leave your comfortable job for something better, even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone.


It’s not always easy to leave a job that may be comfortable, if not fulfilling, but it’s not always in our best interests to stay.   It’s up to us to take charge of our careers, as no one will look out for our best interests except us.

As long as you act with integrity, ditch the guilt about leaving a job that no longer serves you, and move on.  That’s the difference between having a satisfying career and just a series of jobs.

The choice is ours to make.





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