As you might imagine, people talk to me about their jobs all the time. In a typical scenario I’ll be chatting with someone casually and they’ll say, “I should really call you, I’ve got to make a change.” I say I would be happy to help. And that’s how so many clients have come to me.
Yet I’m struck by the number of times I’ll see someone, even years later, and they are still in that same job. And they still say the same thing, “I really need to call you!”
To be clear, there is nothing wrong here. We all have a bad day at work, or get angry at our boss. The truth is that there is a big difference between that feeling of momentary annoyance, and an ongoing sense that a job is a bad fit.
So how do you tell the difference? You can look at your feelings and examine what feels true for you. That’s an excellent exercise. There are also some objective, tangible signs that it’s time to look for something new:
- Performance Review – How was it? If it was anything less than great, you should ask for clear direction on what you can do to improve. If you haven’t had a review in the last year, ask for one and keep asking until you get it. Failure to provide a review is lazy and poor management. It could also be cowardly. It could be a warning sign that there are things your supervisor needs to bring to your attention, but is afraid of creating conflict. You want to – you deserve to – know how you are doing, even if the news is difficult.
- Development – Are you growing in your role? Do you get assignments that help you build new skills? Is your company investing in your professional growth? Remember that “five years’ experience,” could mean 1 year of experience followed by 4 years doing the same exact thing. That’s bad for your career growth.
- Stagnant Role – Even if you are continuing to grow professionally, it’s possible that your employer is not recognizing that with commensurate pay and promotion. Are your skills more valuable to another employer? It may be time to find out.
- Professional Network – Does your employer support your engagement in committees and professional associations? Are they paying for you to go to conferences and meetings and otherwise staying up to date and connected in your industry? This is important to your advancement, even inside your own organization. Failure to support you could mean they don’t see your potential, and that’s a red flag.