Everyone has a bad day at work now and then, but when those bad days start to outnumber the good ones, it’s time to consider looking for a new job. As the economy continues to improve, there’s no reason to stay with a company that’s struggling to survive, or to settle for a role in which you’re not happy, says Howard Seidel, Partner at executive leadership and career consulting firm Essex Partners.
“I think there are two ways to look at this — from an external perspective and from an internal perspective. Sometimes there are outside factors such as your company having financial difficulties, or reorganizations that can impact your job; sometimes it’s more of an introspective, soul-searching kind of thing. When you think, ‘What do I really want to do with my life? Am I truly satisfied? What else is out there?’” says Seidel.
Whatever the motivation, Seidel says there are a number of indicators, both external and internal, that can tell you it’s time to move on.
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1. Money matters
If your company’s going through some financial difficulty, those signs will be clear, Seidel says. For example, if your company starts receiving complaints about late-paid vendor invoices, or if they institute a hiring freeze, curtail travel budgets, expense accounts and other efforts to curb spending, that’s a sign that the organization is struggling financially.
Some other signs of financial pressure can include a company that’s offered for sale, employee layoffs, business unit or division closures, or redirection of money from growth and research and development initiatives, Seidel says.
“Particularly in the IT space, if your company isn’t spending a lot on innovation and is narrowing its focus to just keeping the lights on, that’s worrisome. That’s when you need to start considering if the company has leadership in place to turn things around; whether you want to be part of that, and if it’s worth it to stick around,” he says.
2. Staffing shuffle
Another major red flag is if your executive leadership, your supervisors and/or your peers are actively looking for another job, Seidel says, or if your current organization brings in new leadership or a new management hierarchy.
“Has there been reorganization? Are there new reporting structures and new business direction and strategy? This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to run for the door right away, but sometimes in these situations the new leadership isn’t a good personality or culture fit and it can change the dynamic of the entire company. Sometimes, especially with executive changes, new leaders want to bring in their own teams,” Seidel says, which could result in a layoff.
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3. Interpersonal issues
Personality conflicts, toxic coworkers, micromanaging bosses and other interpersonal issues can be a huge motivating factor in changing your career or your job. If you don’t get along with your boss, or with other members or your team, or if new leadership doesn’t mesh well with the company culture, you’ll quickly start to dread coming to work, Seidel says.
“Interpersonal issues like this can make all the difference between someone who loves their job and their company and someone who can’t stand their working environment. If you used to get along great with everyone, but you’re suddenly excluded from meetings, your input is disregarded or ignored, and you find yourself clashing with the company’s strategy and direction, well, that’s a huge red flag,” he says.
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4. Self satisfied
Of course, one of the most important signs is your own job satisfaction and engagement, says Kelly Max, CEO and co-founder of talent management and HR software consultancy Haufe USA.
“Most of the time, people instinctively know when it’s time to move on, but it’s hard to admit to themselves. The biggest thing to really pay attention to is your overall happiness at your job — are you learning? Do you feel passionate and purposeful about the work you’re doing? Do you have a growth plan and feel you’re set up for success? Or have you felt stagnant, stuck; are you emotionally and physically exhausted and the thought of going into the office makes you feel awful?” Max says.
If it’s the latter, don’t make any rash decisions, Max says. A good place to start is assessing whether your skills, talents and experience can actually be used within your current company to help effect change. There’s a reason you’re in your current role, so figure out if the company’s mission, values and direction are still in alignment with your own. If they are, then perhaps a new manager, more responsibility, a lateral move or some other change from within can be a beneficial.
If not, then start by reaching out to your networking contacts to see what opportunities are available in your field and industry while you’re updating your résumé, says Essex Partners’ Seidel.
“When you see these signs, it’s good to start networking. You not only can find out if you’re experiencing things that are fairly common in your industry, but you make yourself much more visible to potential employers and colleagues. From there, you can get in touch with recruiters, hiring managers and start applying for positions,” he says.