Know When to Change Jobs – Watch for Six Signs

when to change jobsDo you know when it’s time to change jobs?  I find this topic interesting because when and how often you decide to change jobs can determine how fast you can progress in your career.   Those who stay at a job too long can stignant their own career progression without knowing it as opposed to those who are in tune with the overall job market and their market value.   It’s important to realize when to change jobs so you can giving yourself the best chance for upward progression.   For this question of when to change jobs,  I have two answers.

Six Signs to Indicate When to Change Jobs

It is not always obvious to the person in the job to tell when the “writing is on the wall,” but here are six signs I use as to when it’s necessary for you to start looking for a job.

  1. When you stop learning:  Every job should teach you some things new in skills and knowledge.  This is how you can progress in your career.  So ask yourself, are you still learning anything substantial in your job?  Be honest!  If not, it’s time to change jobs and at the same time ask for additional responsibilities at your current one.   If one pans out, you will continue to learn and  build your career.
  2. When you dread getting up in the morning to go to work: No job is perfect so there will be some days where you don’t want to go to work.  The rule of thumb is when the days you don’t want to get up to go to work outnumbers the days you don’t mind going, it’s time to look around elsewhere.
  3. When you are passed for a promotion you deserve: This is of course subjective to your perspective vs. that of your boss.  However from your stand point, if you felt like you deserved a promotion and didn’t get it, don’t sit around and just hope for next round, at least start looking and try to find a better option elsewhere.
  4. When you are surprised with probation: Let’s be clear. Everyone will get negative feedback in their jobs.  The key here is the word “surprise” which indicated bad management.  If you were put on probation completely out of the blue, then something is wrong.  It can indicate management is not giving you a fair chance to improve and even if you get out of probation, you will be more in fear of losing your job.  Good management should give you constructive feedback and warning so you get a chance to improve before being put on any kind of probation.
  5. When you cannot perform at your best: The job search process isn’t perfect.  You may very well land a job that is not actually a good fit for you or the company.  This can be from many reasons.  For examples, your responsibilities aren’t the same as described during the interview process or the support that was promised is not there.  Ultimately, when you have the responsibility but not the authority to do the job, you are in trouble.   This will prevent you at performing your best.  Even if the external title and pay is good, start looking for a new job and get out as soon as possible.  It will just go downhill the longer you stay.
  6. When there are massive layoffs: This one is the most obvious. If your company is starting to announce layoffs left and right and even people you admire and thought were doing well are being laid off, then it’s time to look for a job so you can protect yourself.

I am sure there are more indicators than these to tell you when to change jobs, but these are the ones I use.

Look for a New job Every 2 to 3 Years

It doesn’t matter how much you like or dislike your current job.  It’s important to look around in the job market and know what’s out there for your career every 2 to 3 years.  You don’t actually have to leave your current job but the exercise of looking for a new job provides 5 major benefits.

  1. Getting promoted faster: Many people can easily get sucked in to the game of climbing the ladder at a company.  Management will dangle the carrot and if you are not careful, your mind will singularly pursue this carrot (e.g., promotion promise in x years) regardless of whether there are better opportunities outside the company.  The exercise of thinking about when to change jobs and looking for a new job every two years will snap you out of that narrow mind set.  You may also find through interviewing that other companies may be willing to promote you now instead of in x years that your current company promised. Then if you get the option, you can decide whether it’s wise to switch jobs.
  2. Mental leverage: By looking for a new job every two years, you can avoid feeling completely trapped at your current job.  It reminds you that there could be other options out there.   As you get interviews and talk to other companies, it boosts your confidence and help you realize you have leverage and value in the market.  You don’t have to use this leverage in your current company, but just knowing that other companies are interested can make you think clearer about your career choices.  Thinking about when to change jobs also forces you to take a step back from your daily routine to ask yourself important questions about where you are going in your career and re-assess if needed.
  3. Better job satisfaction: You may very well find through this exercise that your current job is actually better than you thought.  You couldn’t find a better job out there.  This is also good news as it will give you renewed focus and energy to give it your all in your current job.  You will feel happier just knowing that you are still making the right choice by staying at your current one.
  4. Hone your job search skills: Job search skills do not come naturally.  By looking for a new job every two years, you can refresh and improve our skills (resume writing, interviewing, salary negotiation, etc) without the pressure of having to look for work (since you have a job).  Effective job search skills are essential to your overall career success.
  5. Build key relationships for future job search: Even if you don’t switch jobs after looking, if you play it right, you can build one or two great relationships with other companies that you interviewed especially if they were interested in hiring you.  You can decline gracefully but keep in touch for when it’s actual time to leave your job.

It’s good to remember, there is no security in any job.  As much as it is hard to make the effort to look for a new job, it’s in your interest to watch for these signs and be proactive in looking for a new job.  The more proactive you are, the more control you feel about your future.  This will give you the confidence to succeed no matter what happens in your current job.   Best wishes in your career.

Your comments: Are there any rules of thumb you use to decide when to look for a new job?  Share your comments and questions below and let’s have a discussion.

I am always in your corner.

– Lei

One thought on “Know When to Change Jobs – Watch for Six Signs

  1. Lei Han Post author

    Wow I am so glad I wrote this article as it pertains to my own situation now. The tips are helping to remind me it’s time to move on. I landed and job that looked awesome on paper two years ago and then found out during the job what a bad leader I have. I would add another sign to this article – if your leader “put you under the bus” or “spin the story” for his or her own benefit instead of protecting the team, it’s time to get out and soon.

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