Why Would Anyone Quit Their Jobs at Dream Companies Like Facebook or Google?

Paul Sakuma/AP

Life at a tech giant isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

This question originally appeared on QuoraWhy do people quit their jobs at dream companies like Facebook or Google? Answer by Michael Wolfe, entrepreneur, on Quora

There is a long list of reasons why people leave jobs at highly rated employers like Google or Facebook, but before I list some of them, let me first highlight what I think is the assumption underlying the question.

My guess is that you are operating under a set of assumptions that I’ll call the Big Lie. The Big Lie goes something like this:

  • Work really hard at school,
  • So you can get good grades,
  • So you can go to a good university,
  • So you can get a really good job,
  • At a really good company,
  • Your family, friends, and potential mates will be impressed,
  • And you’ll live happily ever after.

The Big Lie relies on a few supporting lies:

  • Everything can be ranked against a single hierarchy. Just like it is better to finish first in your graduating class than to finish second, it’s better to go to a “first tier” university than second tier. It is better to go to a first tier company (where “first tier” means companies you have heard of like Google or Amazon) than second tier.
  • The higher you land on this ladder, the happier you’ll be. The winners are the happiest. The runners up are still pretty happy. If you fall off the ladder completely, you’ll be miserable.
  • Talented people should jump into this competition, all compete for the same things, and measure themselves based on how they are stacking up.
  • Since everyone “knows” what winning and losing look like, your family and friends and social status are set by how much you are “winning.”

The people behind the Big Lie are not malicious. They often have your best interests in mind and actually believe they are helping you. They are your parents who want to see their kids in a “safe” job at a prestigious company. They are your teachers who want you to get good grades to create opportunities for yourself. They are the big companies who create great work environments so they can have their pick of people.

This is all a long way of saying “everyone is different,” and most people who have been in the working world for a while have long moved past the Big Lie, but younger folks, especially new college graduates, are very susceptible to it. It often is a result of pressure from family and friends, but it is just as often a simple lack of knowledge – many of them want to join a Google or Facebook because they are literally one of the only tech companies they know anything about. But there may have been 100 other lesser-known companies that would have been a better fit.

Now, set the Big Lie aside for a moment, and I’ll answer the question as asked, which is why people leave jobs at companies that supposed to be the “best employers.” I know lots of people who work at companies like Google and reach a day where they start daydreaming about quitting. There are as many reasons are there are people, but some pretty typical ones are:

  • They don’t enjoy the politics and lack of impact at a large company and long to join a smaller one where they can more easily feel the results of their work.
  • They have a great idea for their own company and want to strike out on their own and found a startup.
  • They are passionate about learning a new technology or market and want to join a lesser-known company that is focused in that area.
  • They have sick parents or a spouse with a job opportunity in another city. Moving to that city would be best for their family.
  • They realize they won’t be young forever and want to take a year to travel the world with their fianc and have some adventures before they settle down.
  • They are simply bored of working at the same company with the same people and want to try something new to add some variety to their life.
  • They realize they don’t really like the technology industry and want to become a veterinarian, chef, or nonprofit leader.

For the people who know exactly why they joined BigCo in the first place, this transition is pretty graceful. If they originally chose BigCo after an honest assessment of who they are and what their career goals are, they resign as soon as it no longer meets those needs. They go onto something bigger and better (for them) and are better off for the experience and connections they made along the way.

But if they originally joined BigCo only because they believed the Big Lie, this transition can often throw them into a personal crisis:

  • If they joined BigCo because of its “prestige,” the prospect of losing that credential can throw them into an identity crisis.
  • If they joined BigCo because of family pressure, they dread that call to their family to explain the “failure” of walking away from a “dream job.”
  • Since BigCo is the “best,” but they are still not happy, they may feel doomed to be perpetually unhappy and ungrateful that even the best wasn’t good enough for them.
  • They may realize that joining BigCo was a mistake in the first place and they just wasted years of their life when they should have been a veterinarian all along.
  • They may find they are unable to leave BigCo at all. They end up conflicted and paralyzed, and quiet desperation sets in.

Companies like Google and Facebook are amazing, but they can be disasters for people who choose them for the wrong reasons or stay too long because of inertia.

People without a firm sense of who they are, what they want, and where their interests and passions lie are vulnerable to this. They end up taking their cues from family, friends, and teachers because they don’t have an inner compass to guide them.

Every person walking this earth is different, and changes from month to month and from year to year. Once you realize there is no “best” of anything, it becomes much easier to seek out what is “best for you” and make career decisions based on your own criteria, not based on any conventional wisdom about what success looks like.

Your decisions may or may not include a Facebook or a Google, but if they do, they should for reasons that are uniquely yours.

As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.