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.
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.
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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