Determining when and if it’s time for a job change isn’t easy. Various factors influence timing of a job search, including your level of experience, industry, competitive landscape, market climate and seasonality.
You may know in your gut that you need to make a professional move, but remain in your position. Reasons like company loyalty, good compensation, seniority, corporate culture, great boss etc. may make career sense (at least for a while), but others sound more like excuses to delay an inevitable job change.
You may have legitimate reservations about the job change process. Perhaps you haven’t looked for a new position in years and don’t know where to start or aren’t active on LinkedIn. Or, you haven’t updated your resume since you graduated college, don’t like networking etc. The list could go on and on, but such concerns cannot excuse “red flags” that it’s time to move on.
If you don’t know where to start, that’s okay. You can get help preparing for a job search. However, only you can decide when to start.
Signs you should consider a job change:
- You’ve plateaued. You actively seek more responsibility but you’ve reached a dead end in your current role. You spoke to your boss (perhaps more than once), yet nothing has changed and you’re bored.
- You’re treated like a senior leader, but lack the title or compensation. You’ve progressed in your role and responsibilities, executive management includes you in meetings (and looks to you for expertise), but your title and pay haven’y changed (despite discussing this with your boss and HR).
- You don’t get a raise, promotion or bonus after a great review. Despite excellent performance, positive results, and support and accolades from company leaders, you’re not materially rewarded.
- The firm cuts resources repeatedly. Management reduced your budget significantly (perhaps several times), negatively impacting your team’s productivity and output. In addition, the company is no longer dedicating funding for needed infrastructure and it will impact work quality.
- Management reduces staff with no plan for new hires. You and your team have been saddled with substantially increased workloads (and possibly travel), yet vacancies remain unfilled. Moreover, your new responsibilities won’t come with additional compensation or promotion.
- The company makes strategic decisions that you don’t agree with. Or, the company changes its strategic direction and you don’t support it — perhaps because it will negatively impact your area.
- The company or department restructuring will change the scope of your job. And, you don’t want to pursue the new focus.
- A pending merger will impact company culture significantly. You do not want to be a part of the anticipated environment.
If these signs or others like them have put a job change at the forefront of your mind, ask these important questions before deciding to leave your current job.
Consider the following:
- Do I know definitively that there are no other opportunities at my company? If you’d like to remain with your organization, but not in your current role, consider if a new position or move to another department/business unit can solve the present problem, get your career back on track and allow you retain seniority.
- Did I have a thorough conversation with management about the ramifications of the merger/layoffs/budget cuts? When there’s uncertainty, we tend to make assumptions, some of which are later proven false. Make sure that the changes you’re unhappy about are for the longer-term and that there are no plans for additional, positive changes in the future.
- Are there additional learning opportunities? Have you exhausted opportunities in your current position to learn anything new or gain good experience? Have you asked your boss or HR if the company will pay for professional development, a certification or advanced education? These benefits will help you pursue a new opportunity in the future.
- Am I ready to commit to a full-scale search? Looking for a job requires time, so make sure you have the capacity for it. Your short term effort will pay off in the long run when you eliminate the dissatisfaction and anxiety of your current job.
Deciding to look for a new position is a major decision and changing jobs requires significant effort, regardless of your professional level, industry or functional area. If you’ve carefully considered your situation and know a job change is inevitable, don’t let fear hold you back.
Create a realistic plan. Take action by ticking off your to-do list one thing at a time (if you try to do everything at once, you’ll be overwhelmed and it’ll stop you in your tracks). Before you know it, you’ll get back on track to professional satisfaction, career advancement and less stress.