Things to consider when changing jobs
Much has been written about the “Great Resignation,” in which a record high of 4 million people on average left their jobs each month in 2021. If you’re considering joining the trend, keep in mind the grass isn’t always greener. “It’s very important that we are thoughtful in this process,” says Shayla Thurlow, vice president of people and talent acquisition for The Muse, a values-based career website. Nearly three-quarters of workers have taken a new job only to discover that it is much different than expected, according to a survey of more than 2,500 people by The Muse. It’s a phenomenon the website calls “shift shock.” To avoid this problem, ensure you are leaving a job for the right reason and carefully vet new work opportunities. Here are 10 signs it’s time to change jobs, according to employment experts.
Your company isn’t stable.
If rumors are swirling about layoffs coming or your company being bought out, “That in itself is a trigger that it’s time to look for a new job,” says Paul Lewis, chief customer officer for Adzuna, a job search website and app. Rather than be forced into a job change, it may be better to start looking now and leave on your own terms.
Your work schedule no longer fits your lifestyle.
A silver lining from the COVID-19 pandemic is that some people discovered there are new ways to do their jobs. “What we’re certainly seeing now is workers who want to continue to work remotely,” Thurlow says. If your employer is forcing everyone back to the office but you prefer the freedom and flexibility of working from home, that may be your cue to explore other work opportunities. Depending on your field, self-employment may be an option as well.
You’re feeling burned out.
Burnout is another clear sign it’s time to switch jobs. “The emotional toll that a bad job takes on you is gradual,” says J. Gerald Suarez, professor of the practice in systems thinking and design at the University of Maryland. If you dread going to work or feel like you’re just going through the motions, that’s a good sign you are ready for a change. In some cases, you may not need to switch employers but rather move to another position within your organization. If you’re not sure how to change jobs, talk to your supervisor to discuss your concerns and ask whether you may be able to transfer to a different department or role.
You’re trying to build your resume.
Not everyone takes a position and expects to be there forever. Some people are looking for experience to build their resume and pursue other positions. In that case, you don’t want to stay at a job too long. “The sweet spot seems to be between 18 months and three years,” according to Christy Pruitt-Haynes, head of performance practice for NeuroLeadership Institute, a human resources consulting firm. If you leave a job before 18 months, you’ll be seen as a job hopper, Pruitt-Haynes says. However, continuing in a position more than three years could mean you lose momentum toward your ultimate career goal.
Your income is stagnant.
Inflation hit a 40-year high in 2022, and if your income isn’t keeping up, that could mean it’s time to change a job. “There’s no harm in looking at what jobs are out there,” Lewis says. Using a service such as Adzuna’s ValueMyResume is one way to evaluate whether you are being fairly compensated. Websites such as a Salary.com and Payscale.com also have tools that allow people to compare their earnings to those of other workers in their field.
You no longer feel challenged.
For many people, a job is more than a paycheck. It’s a chance to stretch horizons, develop skills and make a difference. However, if you no longer feel challenged by your work, it may be time to change jobs. “If you sense you’re losing that engagement, revisit your why,” Suarez says. It could be that your values have changed, and your current employer no longer offers you work that is personally meaningful. Or it could be that you have maximized your skills in your current position and are ready to move to the next level of your career.
Your workplace is toxic.
Some workplaces provide supportive environments that foster collaboration. Others can be competitive and border on hostile. Pruitt-Haynes suggests evaluating whether workplace issues involve disliking a single co-worker or something deeper such as an atmosphere of disrespect. In the first instance, you may not need to change jobs and instead could look into changing departments. However, in the latter situation, it may be best to find work elsewhere instead. If discrimination or harassment are involved, you may want to talk to an attorney about legal remedies.
You’ve just finished a big project.
As a professional courtesy, it’s typically frowned upon to quit in the middle of a big project. “Never leave the job in the middle of the mission,” Suarez says. Doing so could leave co-workers in a bind and might eliminate any possibility of receiving a good reference from that employer. It is also best to time a departure after a raise, if possible. “It’s better to wait until after a performance review,” Pruitt-Haynes advises. That way you can use any higher salary or bonus you receive as leverage when negotiating compensation for a new job.
Your company doesn’t align with your values.
Workers are increasingly looking for employment that aligns with personal beliefs and values. In fact, 56% of employees say they wouldn’t consider working for a company that has values they don’t agree with, according to a 2022 survey of approximately 1,200 employed adults by experience management firm Qualtrics. “Professional and personal life are now intertwined more than ever,” Lewis says. If you feel strongly about a particular issue, such as sustainability, you may want to switch careers to find work that prioritizes that value.
You’ve hit a life milestone.
When you hit a major life milestone — such as a marriage or the birth of a child — it makes sense to reevaluate whether your workplace is still a good fit for you. “As we go through different life stages, we value different things,” Thurlow says. What’s more, your practical needs might change. For instance, you may find you need more money or want a more flexible schedule if you have expanded your family.
Signs it’s time for a job change
— Your company isn’t stable. Your work schedule no longer fits your lifestyle.
— You’re feeling burned out.
— You’re trying to build your resume.
— Your income is stagnant.
— You no longer feel challenged.
— Your workplace is toxic.
— You’ve just finished a big project.
— Your company doesn’t align with your values.
— You’ve hit a life milestone.
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