Making the decision to change jobs or careers can be scary, especially in the current economy. But at times, it becomes necessary. You can be happy and fulfilled one day, but then circumstances and situations change and you’re left wondering why everything suddenly seems to suck.
If you’re in this situation, your first step should be to do everything you can to remedy your situation before seeking to jump ship. But if you’ve tried your best and are still unhappy, these signs may point to the fact that it’s time to find a new job.
1. You’re Underpaid
Money isn’t everything, but you do need to pay your bills. And moreover, you deserve to get adequately rewarded for the work that you do. When you’re just not making the money you need, it can be hard to put in the extra effort to really excel, and it can affect your motivation over the long haul—especially if it’s compounded by other less-than-ideal situations at work. So, if you know you’re being paid significantly less than you deserve—that can be a very good reason to start looking for new opportunities that’ll actually meet your salary needs.
Alternate Options: Do some research and see what people in similar positions are making (considering the cost of living in different locations). And if you truly feel you are due for a raise, ask for it. But if you’re not quite there yet, seek input and feedback from your boss or trusted co-workers on how you can further help the organization and increase your value. Then get to work.
2. You’re Undervalued
Doing a great job when no one is there to appreciate it (or even recognize it) is terribly defeating. We all want to be patted on the back every now and then. And working somewhere where you aren’t getting proper recognition is kind of like being in a relationship without affection or attention—you’ll likely start to wonder if you’re valued or even liked. Not only is a place like that de-motivating—but if your boss refuses to acknowledge and commend your accomplishments, that can also be a sign that you’re not going to promoted or given adequate opportunities to advance. If you truly aren’t appreciated at your current workplace—it may be time to go somewhere else where your contribution is valued.
Alternate Options: Seek to objectively assess your value to the organization. Are you doing work that matters to the functioning of the company? Are you doing it well? What could you be doing to make more of an impact? Look specifically for areas where you think you have special expertise, and consider if a position switch may be in order.
3. The Ship is Sinking
When a ship starts to hit rocky seas for an extended period of time—it’s only natural to start worrying if it will stay afloat. And if you doubt the people steering the ship know what they’re doing, it may be time to get off at the next dock. In case you’re not following me here—if you think the company you’re working for may be failing and the senior leadership is driving it into the ground, it may be time to start preparing for your next step.
Alternate Options: Assess if the situation is truly dire, or if the office chatterbox is just being overdramatic. Chum up to the accountant or bookkeeper, and be on the lookout for signs of serious distress from them or your boss to gauge the outlook. At a minimum, if you sense impending disaster, start putting your feelers out for new opportunities so you have a life raft ready. This means brushing up your contact list, LinkedIn profile, and resume.
4. You’re Not Given the Resources to Do Your Job Well
You know you could do so much more for the organization, but you simply don’t have the tools, equipment, support, or opportunities to do so. This usually doesn’t mean they don’t see your potential, but it may mean that they can’t (or don’t want to) put in the time or money to help you help the company and therefore move forward in your career.
Alternate Options: Show how the cost of the resource you want will ultimately make your organization money. That’s the real value to your boss. Will it save you hours of time, which you can use to do more projects? Will it help you deliver more, quality work that raises client satisfaction and retention?
5. You’re Not Learning and Growing
Just like not having the tools or resources to do your work can cause problems, so can having your growth stunted, stalled, or slowed down. If you’re not challenged or given opportunities to learn and grow in your job, it may be time to seek employment in an organization that actually will support your personal and career growth.
Alternate Options: Learning something new is an investment in yourself and your career. If your employer isn’t investing in your continued learning, take it upon yourself to find a mentor in your field, and ask them to share their expertise with you. You can also begin to teach yourself. Buy a Kindle (or dig up that library card) and start reading books recommended by thought leaders and respected colleagues in your field. You can also take classes, attend conferences, and go to workshops to continue your education on your own time and dime (or, better yet, see if your employer will help foot the bill for a conference you think will benefit the company).
6. It’s Not the Right Fit
Things change: bosses change, markets change, jobs change, and your life situation changes. What may have been the perfect job before, may not be working anymore. And that’s okay.
If you feel your job or career isn’t aligning with your hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives for your life, it’s time for a serious work-life evaluation (which could result in a job change).
Alternate Options: Before making a major decision like changing jobs, take some time off. Often, rest and distance are the best things you can do for yourself and your work. So put in a request to use some of your vacation time ASAP, and go get a little R&R. Afterward, ask yourself if you job truly is as bad as you thought, or were you simply overworked and overdue for some time off?
This article was originally published on The Daily Muse.
Cory Miller is founder of iThemes, which offers professional WordPress themes, plugins and training since 2008. He also regularly blogs about career advice at Purposeful Paychecks and entrepreneurship at Startup Sofa. You may also find Cory on Twitter @CoryMIller303.