It’s Sunday evening and you’re beginning to think about tomorrow. There’s a staff meeting on Monday morning followed by inevitable questions. You have a client meeting in the afternoon and haven’t fully prepared. It’s sure to be another 12-hour day.
Suddenly, an all-too familiar feeling of dread comes over you. The sneaking suspicion that some jobs just aren’t worth it has returned. Yes, the economy is tough. You know you should be grateful to have a job. Yet, the truth is that you’re unhappy.
Is it time to consider leaving your job? Is life on the outside better? Maybe, but before making your decision, anticipate the warning signs that may impact your choice, carefully consider your options, and plan for the future.
Business Warning Signs
“Sometimes your company or firm will make the decision to leave for you,” says Glenna Hecht, president of Humanistic Consulting LLC, in Dallas, Texas. Look for changes in people and processes that indicate this possibility.
Strategic Changes: “A change in senior management and subsequent changes in direction could mean layoffs,” says Hecht. Watch for changes in company policy and operations.
Cutbacks: “They start to cut back on training, medical, and dental benefits. Open positions are not filled. There’s a freeze on increases,” she continues. Such financial belt-tightening could be signs all is not well.
Changes in Management Stress Level: Observe the stress level of company leaders. “When they appear to be stressed or making knee-jerk decisions, these can be indicators the business isn’t doing well.”
Loss of a Client or Customer: “Loss of a major account is an event I’d pay attention to,” Hecht stresses. With loss of a client comes loss of revenue!
Personal Warning Signs
Often, the sign it’s time to change jobs is an increasingly pessimistic view of the future. “It’s the voice in your head that says, ‘I hate this,’” says Hecht. When you feel that nagging apprehension, it’s time to take note of the causes and symptoms.
Professional Roadblocks: “People get concerned that their mid- and long-term goals won’t be met.” A dim view of career potential is sure to foster dissatisfaction and resentment.
Career Dissatisfaction: You liked your job when you started, but somehow it’s just not what you want any more. “When the thought in your head is, ‘Gee, I wish I were doing something else,’ it’s a sign you’re losing interest.”
Excessive Overtime: “Personal stressors impact your work. When work/life balance diminishes, it reflects on the quality of the time a person spends at work.” Guilt and bitterness created by not meeting family obligations will spill over into the office.
Supervisor Conflict: “People don’t work for companies; they work for people,” says Hecht. “If you find yourself loving your work, but hating your boss, think about a change.”
Sunday Dread: “How do you feel on Sunday night?” she asks. Do you dread Monday morning? If so, you may become snappy with people or withdraw and become quiet. A mood change is a sure sign of work dissatisfaction.
Recognize yourself? Before you jump ship, take some time to review your options. First, look for alternative positions within the firm or company. “See if you can work it out,” says Hecht. “The issue may be only a misalignment of goals.” Investigate other internal career paths. Consider an additional credential or certification.
Consider whether your move will be to a similar position or to something altogether different. If you expect to move to a similar position, start your resume with that position in mind.
“Your resume has to be metrically focused on the accomplishments in your current job,” she advises. “You need to assess that before you leave, in a methodical, analytical manner. In addition, practice your interviewing skills. Use support networking groups. It will take awhile to find a job.”
Thinking of a complete career change? Explore what it will take to learn a new profession or business. “Know thyself,” she says. “What do you have the capability to do? If you’re not good at sales, maybe becoming a consultant isn’t for you. If it’s a radical change, try it before you leave. Get a part-time job doing what you think you want to do.”
Remember the Basics
Leaving a stable job will impact your income and your family. With the average length of unemployment hovering at 40 weeks (Bureau of Labor Statistics), it’s more important now, than ever, to plan for financial stability. In addition, consider the impact of your transition on the important people in your life.
If you’re noticing the warning signs that your job just isn’t working out, then life on the outside might be better. Take the time to review your options, plan ahead, and when it’s time to make the move, you’ll be ready.