What are your career goals for 2013? Having a career goal is like possessing a compass in the dark on an endless ocean; you use that compass to guide your progress in the proper direction (Victor Ghebre). Is your top career goal a better work/life balance that gives you more time with your kids and spouse? More money? A promotion? More impact? Better relations with your boss and colleagues?
Does your current position allow you to fulfill those goals? If you have explored all the options and the answer is ‘no’, 2013 might be the time for you to design Plan B for your career and consider a transition to a job that is a better fit. Apart from using the benchmark of having career goals, how else can you find out if you need to get serious about switching jobs?
Here are some tell-tale signs that may point you in the direction of a job/career change.
1. You are not challenged or you have outgrown your job.
Being challenged professionally is a crucial factor in job satisfaction. If we are not challenged enough, we feel taken for granted, stuck, restless, bored and frustrated. Assess your job on the level of challenge – you don’t want an overwhelming feeling of constant challenge either as that leads to high levels of stress. Do you feel that your talents and strengths are being used fully? If the answer is ‘no’, and you have felt this way for a while, it may be time to look for a change. It might be also that you have stayed in your job too long and have mastered it. It takes around 3 years to master a specific job for an average employee. Changing jobs or positions after that 3-year span reinvigorates you. A position where you are not being challenged can be a curse for someone who loves learning. Moreover, staying in a job that no longer stretches you and uses your talents has a toll on your self-esteem: you will feel less and less valued as time passes, and will start questioning your personal value and competencies at the marketplace.
2. A toxic work environment in the office.
While there are office politics in most organizations, if the office environment you work in has higher than ‘normal’ toxicity, you may want to consider changing jobs. Some of the biggest clues are bad workplace ethics and culture (eg your manager constantly expects unpaid overtime from you and other employees), the high level of anger, resentment and frustration, non-transparent management, tolerance of bullies. Are values such as trust and respect – even partially – present in your office culture? If you feel it’s the opposite, do yourself a favor and look for new opportunities.
3. No job security: your company is going down or about to downsize significantly.
While in today’s highly competitive marketplace, no one can expect 100 % job stability, your job should give you at least a middle-term stability. If you feel anxious about losing your job because you see other people being fired, this is a sign you need to make Plan B (and fast!) for your career. Also, be on the look out for the signs that your company/organization or industry is on the downward slope and heading for trouble. Are there a lot of reshuffles, management changes, cut-downs in the budget? If so, strategize your exit.
4. Your health is being negatively affected by your job.
One of the biggest clues that it’s time to prepare your exit strategy and change jobs are the high and persistent levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness. Over time, those result in high blood pressure and other health concerns. Medical studies have linked chronic work-related stress to the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as other conditions. If your job is negatively affecting your health and your ability to live your life fully, consider designing an effective exit strategy and finding a job with a better work-life balance.
5. Your position and salary do not match your experience.
If after a few years of hard work and excellent performance, you feel that your organization/company is not valuing you enough by offering you a salary and position more appropriate to your skills and experience, instead of waiting and investing more energy and time, it is better for you to choose to explore opportunities with other companies that might appreciate what you’ve got to offer. It does not mean quitting your current position overnight but rather than being strategic about finding a better job opportunity elsewhere. (Read other blog posts on specific effective job search tactics for expats in Europe.)
In a nutshell, it’s best not to stay in a job that is no longer meeting your needs. It limits your potential, your life journey. It jeopardizes your self-confidence. It is also a disservice to your company, employer and colleagues. In the next blog post, we’ll look into some tactics of job changing.