When To Leave A Job

Should I leave my job? It’s a question that many of us ask on a particularly bad day in the office.

According to thebalance, on average, we stick with the same employer for 4.6 years while those of us in our earlier career years are likely to change employers every 3.2 years. I’ve had two jobs with the same employer over the last two years. I’m fortunate (some would agree) to work for a company that sees the value in allowing their employees to challenge themselves in new roles when they have delivered in the current one, but not all employers offer the same flexibility. The reality is that though you many be able to change your role a couple of times, many of us will come to a point where the business just doesn’t offer what we want out of a job or career anymore. So, when do you leave a job?

In my own experience I believe there are five key things to look out for when making that final decision to hand in your notice and bid a fond farewell.

You’re Stagnating

This is a really simple one. Are there any opportunities for you to advance? This doesn’t just apply to those working in the corporate world with clear advancement progressions mapped out for them. Whilst I was paying my way through University and working in retail, I wanted to move up to Supervisory level and then on into Management before I’d finished my degree. It applies to us all. If you are interested in advancing your career then you need to be in a company that has those opportunities available to you. Whether a large or small organisation, if you don’t have the prospect of moving forward, you’re standing still.

You’re not Learning

Usually when you start a job there’s an expected learning period. Even if you’re a seasoned professional in your industry you’ll need to learn about the business, their working style and their challenges. Once you’ve picked up these important pieces of information, the challenge of the role kicks in. You could be working with a high volume of work, to tight deadlines or with complex data. You might not be learning new skills every single day but you should be growing in your development and being encouraged to stretch yourself. Sometimes you have to put your head about the parapet for these additional project type opportunities and if you’re doing that then you’re more likely to feel satisfied that you’re continuously learning. However, if these opportunities aren’t available to you then you may be at risk of stagnating, and need to look elsewhere for a greater opportunity.

Recurring Redundancies

You may think ‘I’m great at my job, they won’t put me at risk’ or ‘I’m invaluable, I’m not going anywhere’. Who am I to say that this isn’t the case? Rather than evaluate how much worth you’re adding to the company and whether you’re likely to be the next person being asked to leave, I’d rather look at the effect of recurring redundancies. I’ve worked for a company who believed that the best Christmas present is putting a portion of the workforce at risk of redundancy. Who needs a White Christmas when you have the prospect of not being able to buy your loved ones presents right? Whether the thought of being made redundant scares you or not, the trail of worry, negativity and unease that’s left behind often brings the ‘vibe’ of the business right down. If you’re a part of a business that continually puts its employees up for redundancy you need to consider whether you want to work in this type of environment. While restructuring can offer a chance to step up into a new role it can also show signs of turbulence ahead. To the tune of The Automatic: What’s that coming over the hill? It’s a restructure, it’s a restructure!

You’re Not Happy

We all have days when anything from the sofa to a wild adventure would be preferable to turning up to work that day, but there’s a difference between having an ‘off day’ and being continuously unhappy in your job. No one knows you and how your work environment affects you more that you do. Whether you’re just starting out in your career, or you’ve been in it for many years, it’s important to realise that your job is just that… a job. You have a personal life, relationships and hobbies. You need to look after your physical, mental and spiritual well-being also. If your job is detracting from these other areas of your life, and you’re not only unhappy at work but it’s making you unable to enjoy the rest of your life then you need to consider whether this job is healthy for you.

It’s Time to Go

Given that many of us spend 40 hours a week in our jobs (around 172 hours a month and 2,064 hours a year) you owe it to yourself to evaluate whether you are getting what you need to out of your work. Sometimes, even after deliberating and looking for the above tell-tale signs, the only thing you really need to know is how you feel. Does it feel like you need to go? Is this feeling nagging you during the day and keeping you up at night? Only you know how much more you can take of your current work environment. Be honest with yourself, when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Some of us will be working until we’re in our seventies. There will be many times that we need to take a moment to evaluate our jobs, whether they’re helping or hindering our progression and whether they’re having a positive or negative effect on our lives. Maybe you can live with the effects of these tell-tale signs. Maybe you can’t. Remember that it’s your own personal career path with decisions along the way that only you can make.

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Photo Credit: career-intelligence.com

Making the Most Out of Your Work Day

Believe it or not, there are people out there who only ever work their contracted hours but still manage to exceed expectations in what they manage to deliver. Believe it or not, there are people out there that dare to leave the office as soon as the clock strikes 5pm. Believe it or not, there are even people daring enough to keep their evenings and weekends completely free for a selfish dose of ‘me time’. I know, crazy right?

So many of us just aren’t able to complete our work within the allotted time period and are left feeling as though we have to stay in the workplace later and later each week. I used to be this person as a rule. Now, I’m this person as an exception. Rarely do I work over my contracted hours. I even dare to take back time on a Friday afternoon if I don’t have any further work to do. How? Because I live and work smart… not hard.

Some people have the ability to just get things done. Inside and out of a working capacity. Others, can only reach their goals and action those tasks when they extend their days and stresses. The question I ask, is this: If some can achieve what they set out to without driving themselves beyond capacity, then why can’t everyone? If this really does come down to working smart, rather than hard, then what does this look like in practice?

Working smart, rather than hard, is sometimes easier said than done, but I believe that with a few small changes we can all be on the way to working less but achieving more.

Reflect on the Day Just Gone

Certainly within a work context, one of the greatest stresses can be not knowing what you managed to achieve that day. Spending 8 hours at work and not having done anything is a real challenge. Even the laziest of us would be too bored not to work. But there are certainly days when it seems like you haven’t achieved anything. Taking 10 minutes at the end of the day to look back at what you have managed to complete is a great way of relieving that stress.

Set a Bedtime

I don’t mean to sound like a pushy parent, but at all ages having a set bedtime can be a perfect end to a day. This goes hand in hand with my next point, leading you towards sleeping for a set number of hours each night. Scientific evidence shows that most people need 6-8 hours of sleep per night to truly rejuvenate the mind and body enough to be productive during the daytime. Getting in to a good sleeping routine is a great place to start.

Ban the Snooze Button

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like to snooze. There seems to be a joy in setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier purely so that you can sleep for an extra 10 minutes. This not only doesn’t make any logical sense, but it also doesn’t help you to start the day well. Your body sleeps in 2 hour patterns and that ‘extra’ 10 minutes can end up having the opposite effect then you hoped for, as your body fights to stay in its sleep cycle. Set your alarm for when you need to get out of bed and stick to it. It really does make a difference to your day when you don’t try to stall it.

Utilise Your Mornings

There are some things we have to do with our mornings: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, make our way to work. The repetitive process takes longer for some than others. Many pf us don’t manage to achieve much more than making it out of the door on time. An article from BusinessInsider  shows us what times 21 successful people wake up at and what the get up to in those early hours. Most exercise (we’ll come on to that), and all make the most out of the early, quieter hours.

Prepare For the Week Ahead

Though you wouldn’t expect me to tell you to work on the weekend I do think that there’s a time and a place for planning the week ahead. Spending half an hour to think about what you need to do before you hit your desk on Monday morning can work wonders for someone that would usually spend the first hour or so pondering where to start. Dedicating a small part of your weekend to planning your Monday morning can also be a great way to plan your week before the distractions from the office, emails and phone calls start.

Pursue Your Passion

In the busyness of life it can be easy to forget to spend time on the things you’re really passionate about. I love this quote from an unknown source

“Don’t work 8 hours for a company then go home and not work on your own goals.”

It’s easy to fall in to the trap of working really hard for your company but not on your own personal passions. Making time to completely leave the workplace behind you and focusing on something you truly love can make a surprising difference to your productivity. Instead of resenting your job, you learn the art of a work life balance in which you can leave work at the office door and enjoy your free time that you work so hard to deserve.

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. These endorphins are the same natural chemical that we realise when we fall in love. There are more benefits to exercising than weight loss or staying in shape. It’s a fantastic way of boosting productivity throughout the day, helping you to get your work done faster. LiveStrong reveals that one way exercise can help boost productivity at work is through alertness. When you exercise blood flow to the brain increases, which can help to sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project.

So why not give some of these lifestyle changes a go and see if you can Make the Most out of Your Work Day.

First Day In A New Job

The first day in a new job can be daunting. Sometimes that only thing more nerve wracking is the run up to the main event. So many questions run through your mind. What should I wear? What should I take with me? Was I supposed to prepare something? These questions can be met with silence. Not the peaceful kind of silence, but the ‘what on earth am I doing’ type of silence.

I’ve been there. In fact, I’ve had six first days to date. From my first ‘proper’ job when I was sixteen to my latest first day in a new role about three months ago.

This blog post isn’t really about what I currently do for a job, or my journey in getting there, but trust me, I know the nervousness and frantic feeling that can encompass the days ahead of a first day. It’s surprisingly similar to the first day at school. No matter how many years ago this was for you, you’ve been there before… and you’re still living to tell the tale!

This post is to give you some tips and pointers that will (hopefully) ease some of the worries ahead of the main event. Here are Eight Top Tips to help you prepare:

1 Prepare Ahead of Time
Do what you can to prepare ahead of the day. This can be a simple task that gives you one less thing to think about on the day. You could prepare your lunch, put it into a lunch box and put it into the fridge. Choosing what you’re going to wear is also a great decision to make ahead of the day. Ironing your clothes and hanging them up so that they’re ready to go can save you a stressful thirty minutes in the morning.

2 Practice Your Route
You’d be surprised at how important this can be. I moved to a new city when I started my Internship a few years ago and decided to do this the day before I started. I’m so thankful that I did because had I chanced the journey the morning after, I would have arrived late and very stressed!

3 Research the Company
You’re likely to have started this step ahead of your interview, if that was the process. Your interview may have been weeks or even months ago, and a lot of this knowledge may have left your memory by now. Give yourself an hour or two to familiarise yourself with the company’s website, any recent stories in the news and any case studies on their website. You’re unlikely to be quizzed on this your first day, but there’s no harm in being over prepared, especially if your new boss is someone who likes to catch people off guard.

4 Take a Pad & Pen
Some companies are fantastic and will have your desk all set up, with pad and pen waiting. Others, are not so prepared. If you require a pad and pen to complete your work the company should provide this but don’t be surprised if this isn;t offered on your first day. Taking them with you will mean that you can start the day running, taking notes whenever you hear something that you want to remember.

5 Take Photographic ID
Usually you will be asked to take a form of identification with you. This could be a passport, driving licence or even birth certificate. If you’re asked for one, great, you;ll be able to provide them there and then.

6 Did They Ask You To Bring Anything Else?
Exactly as the question asks. Do you need to take anything else? If you can’t remember then a quick phone call or email to HR or your new manager will clear this up.Better to make a call and be reminded, then to turn up forgetting an important document that you need before you can start.

7 Relax the Evening Before
When you’ve done what you can to prepare take some time out to relax. How do you best do this? Take a bath. Watch TV. Spend the evening having dinner with your friends. Do what you can to relax and stay calm before you head to bed.

8 Be Confident
Guess what?… You’ve already got the job! That means that you must have done something to impress the company. Out of the many people that they interviewed they chose YOU. You can walk into your first day confident that someone chose you to be there.

Keep your head up, go ahead and enjoy your first day.