Temporary setback or a long-term problem? Here's how to tell the difference
“I can’t stand this job anymore!” We’ve all thought these words, or even said them out loud, at one time or another, or more likely many times. Often, they’re the result of temporary frustration, a failed project, or a boss who doesn’t properly appreciate your efforts or skills. But there are other times when sending out your résumé is a very wise move. That’s because your job or your workplace are changing in permanent ways that won’t benefit your career.
How can you tell the difference? “It isn’t so cut and dried,” says Alyssa Gelbard, founder of career consulting firm Resume Strategists. “In addition to common indicators that can signal the need for a change, there are other factors that can influence the right time to begin your search, including your level of experience, industry, the competitive landscape, and the market climate.”
Still, she says, there are certain unmistakable signs that it’s time to leave. You should definitely start your job search if you encounter any of the following:
1. Your office is moving and you don’t want to go with it.
One example would be if the new location would add significant time or expense to your commute, Gelbard says. If the new location is inconvenient for you, chances are you’re not the only one, and some of your colleagues may be planning job hunts as well. So it’s best to start looking soon rather than wait.
2. The company has failed to deal with an abusive or inappropriate boss or colleague.
If you’ve gone through HR and followed whatever procedures you were told to and the problem hasn’t been resolved, don’t just ignore it. Take it as an early warning sign that your current workplace is not a healthy place for you to be. In fact, even if you yourself haven’t been the subject of abuse, but you’ve observed that inappropriate behavior toward your co-workers has been allowed to continue despite complaints, you should probably get out before it happens to you, as well.
3. Technology will soon make your job obsolete.
Rapid technological changes are overtaking many professions, and you should be alert to the possibility that it might happen to you, either because your role is being replaced by technology or because technological advances mean fewer human beings are needed to get the job done.
A move to an employer with different technological assets may help. But ultimately, to continue having a successful career, you will likely need retraining to either learn to use the new technology or to develop expertise in a different discipline. Now is the time to start thinking about what type of training that should be.
4. Your employer’s focus is moving away from your expertise.
“For example, you’re in marketing and oversee events, and your organization is now placing significantly less emphasis on events and more on digital marketing and social media,” Gelbard says. If this happens, it’s time to seek out an employer whose priorities align with your skills.
5. Your job has been restructured or changed to something you don’t want to do.
Don’t stick with a job that you don’t enjoy, that isn’t fulfilling, or that doesn’t match your career aspirations just because you’ve gotten comfortable in your current workplace.
6. The company is making strategic decisions you can’t support.
You won’t agree with all your employer’s decisions, and you shouldn’t expect to. But if the company is making big decisions that will take the whole organization in a direction you disagree with--or worse, that you believe are unethical--the sooner you can get out, the better.
7. Your budget has been cut significantly.
If reduced resources mean you and your team can’t produce work at the same standards you did before, that’s a good sign that it’s time to move on.
8. You are affected by staff cuts.
You should leave, Gelbard says, if staffing has been reduced and “you are expected to pick up the additional responsibilities, and they have told you that there is no plan for new hires, additional compensation, or promotion.”
9. You are no longer included in key meetings or decisions.
This is likely an indication that your role is being altered or even that you yourself are in danger of being let go. You should start looking for another position immediately.
10. You failed to get a promotion, raise, or bonus that you were expecting.
If you know you put in a strong performance, the numbers for your team or department are up, and you’ve gotten strong reviews and praise from the company’s leadership, that should be reflected in your compensation and career opportunities. If it isn’t, tactfully ask why not. If the answer doesn’t make sense to you, it’s time to start looking for other opportunities. This is especially true if other executives who are junior to you or turned in a lesser performance did get increased compensation.
11. You’re not getting interesting new projects.
It may be that you’re getting passed over, or it may be that your current employer simply doesn’t have any appealing new challenges or assignments to offer you. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re bored in your current role and there’s no prospect of something more engaging, it’s time to move on.