Follow this advice! Staying in a job that is dysfunctional for you can have cause physical ill health and a depleted sense of well-being. Take care of yourself and move on, but plan smart so that you don't jeopardize your chances of finding a new (and better) job!
You’ve been at your job for two, three, maybe five years now, and you’re feeling a little antsy. Perhaps you took the first job you were offered out of college and got stuck there, or maybe you’ve grown and flourished in your position, but you’ve hit a ceiling. You think you might be ready for a change.
Of course, as soon as you start updating your resume, everyone in your life will probably start telling you how lucky you are to have “any job.” Finding a new job is difficult, they’ll remind you, and entering the job market in a recession makes it even harder—it’s definitely not a decision to be taken lightly.
So how do you know when it’s really the right time to get started on the job search circuit? Before you start drafting your resignation letter (or resign yourself to sticking it out), consider these four important factors.
1. Opportunities for Growth
Early on in your career, you’ll likely find yourself outgrowing your entry-level responsibilities within a couple of years, and you’ll be eager to get to the next step.
Moving up is important, but it’s wise to take a look around your current company before you start browsing the job boards. First, check out the types of training or growth opportunities that are available within your organization. Find out what it might take for you to advance within the company—review the company’s established policies and consider having a sit-down with your boss. See if you can shake up your current situation by taking steps toward a promotion or by switching to another department that has room for you at the next level.
Once you’ve explored your options, and if you still feel that there’s nowhere left to go in your current company (or nowhere you’d want to be), it might be time to look elsewhere.
2. Consistency with Your Career Goals
The fastest way to get from point A to B is a straight line. But in today’s job market, we often overlook the best path to our dream position in favor of whatever we’re offered, even if it’s not a perfect match. That can be fine for a while, especially since you do need to pay the bills, but if your current job isn’t on (or even near) the path to your ultimate career goals, it might be time to recalibrate.
If your current job is related to your goal, or if you have the skills to jump directly back onto your planned career path, why not keep your eye open for new job opportunities that would be a better fit? But if you’ve veered drastically away and will need training and new skills to reach your end goal, look into gaining that experience now, while you’re still employed. Leaving now won’t necessarily get you closer to the job you really want any sooner—so, unless you’re leaving to go to school full-time, it might be smart to keep pulling a paycheck until you’ve better prepared yourself.
3. Work Environment
Toxic work environments and miserable co-workers can make even a dream job hard to deal with. Unfortunately, every office has its quirks and politics, so that in itself isn’t a reason to leave. If you’re not directly involved in the drama and can stay above the fray, a less-than-perfect workplace can be bearable (assuming you’re otherwise happy with your position!).
But if you’re facing more serious issues, like an outdated company culture, backstabbing co-workers, or supervisors that are affecting your ability to do your work and get recognized for it, you might be doing yourself (and your career) a disservice if you stay.
4. Security and Salary
Your salary is a huge factor in your job, but it’s not everything. We all want job security, but sticking with a non-ideal job because you’re comfortable and have good benefits can hold you back from reaching your career goals. Of course, if security is a high priority for you right now—you have dependents to support or debt to pay off—then it may be worth it to stay put until you find another job with similar perks.
On the flip side, sticking with a job you like that doesn’t pay much can prevent you from reaching your financial goals. Is your current salary enough for you to save and invest, or are you just scraping by? Is it consistent with the going rate for your position at other similar companies? (Check out Payscale.com to compare your salary against local norms.) As you’re weighing your goals, take a look at how your salary and benefits package fit into the picture, too.
As you’re pondering your situation, keep in mind that you can always start by dipping just a toe in the job search—if you’re already employed, you can be selective about which jobs you want to apply to. Start perusing online job boards to see what the market is like in your industry and location. You might find that there’s not really anything out there, which can help you be (a little) more content at your current job. Or, you just might find many great opportunities out there that get you really excited—and that’s a great reason to consider leaving your current job.