Jobs are not meant to last forever. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker will have more than eleven jobs before age fifty, and that number is expected to grow. While some transitions are out of your control, eventually you could find yourself in the wrong job, at the wrong time.
Here are seven signs that it might be time to explore the job market for better prospects.
You and your manager are not aligned on your job requirements and career path. Everyone has a boss – even the CEO of a public company has to answer to a Board of Directors. Do not assume you and your supervisors share a common vision. Some potential red flags:
No clear engagement from management in career discussions.
Differing ideas about your role, career path, and long-term potential in the company.
Lack of periodic performance evaluations or feedback, or your positive achievements are not being officially acknowledged.
New management that has a “different way of doing things” and their “own” people. No matter how stellar your job performance, these kinds of shake-ups can fundamentally change the nature of your role. Be aware, these kinds of shakeups may also lead to new internal career opportunities.
You received a poor appraisal. It’s essential to ask yourself, “Why did this happen?” While a poor appraisal is a signal that management is unhappy with your job performance, it does not necessarily mean it is time to leave your job. Ask yourself:
What is the message management is trying to convey? Listen closely – if the overriding tone is that they really want to see you succeed, your leadership may be willing work with you to give you the tools to turn things around. If not, you’re in dangerous territory.
If your review stipulates areas in which you need to show improvement, are you capable of meeting these new expectations? If they are beyond your capabilities, it might be time to seek a better fit.
What strategies can you undertake to turn things around? Systemic issues can be impossible to change, whereas if you are presented with opportunities that are genuinely within your control, your long-term outlook at the company might be more promising.
Have you had a candid conversation with your manager about your appraisal? Painful as these discussions are, they’re essential. You may no longer be a good fit for your current role based upon shifting expectations or other factors. Best to know, so you can plan accordingly.
There’s limited opportunity for professional development. Personal growth should be part of your compensation package, providing you with challenging work that helps you hone valuable new skills that you will carry with you throughout your career. If you are bored and unchallenged, or the work is not as rewarding as you’d like, consider asking your manager to evolve your responsibilities in order to get those mental juices going. A dull role with no opportunity to expand your toolbox could signal a dead end.
You’re feeling undercompensated for your work. It’s human nature to underestimate or overestimate one’s value to a company, and even in a job that you may have outgrown it is easy to become too comfortable at the expense of progress. But before you assume you’re underpaid, do your homework. Salary survey sites with validated data, like Paysa, can tell you whether or not you are being fairly compensated for the work you do. Be prepared for what you learn – you may find out you’re earning an above-average salary for the market. Also, remember that your salary is only one piece of the overall compensation picture, and often benefits like 401(k) matches, bonuses, and generous paid time off can make up for a lower base salary. That said, if your total compensation appears to be substantially lower than the overall market, consider seeing what else is out there.
Your personal values no longer align with the corporate values and culture. This seems like an abstract concept until your company asks you to engage in uncomfortable or unethical behavior, and your job is on the line. Or maybe the company shifted from a family-centric culture to a 24/7, get-it-done-at-all-costs environment. Your reputation and sanity are two of your most valuable assets; protect them.
You’re engaged in self-sabotage. Maybe you’re unhappy at your job and you want to leave, but you can’t bring yourself to take action. Instead, you let your job performance slip – either consciously or unconsciously – secretly hoping you’ll be let go and you’ll be off the hook. No matter how justifiably unhappy you may be, it’s not a good idea to allow your job performance to slip for any reason. Stay motivated, stay engaged, and consider looking for a new environment where you’ll be happy to show up to work.
Sometimes you just need to move on. Even the best experiences have a natural life cycle. A certain level of self-awareness is essential. Only you know if your job still aligns with your best-case career scenario.
Philip Roufail contributed to this article.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.