Changing a job can be very tough. It’s stressful, it’s risky, it’s not guaranteed to turn out the way you wish it to. That’s why many put off switching jobs times and times again, thinking they can just “sit it out” or that “it’s not that bad” instead.
The truth is, the longer you put off quitting a job that makes you miserable, the worse your negative experiences are likely to become. They’re going to snowball to the point when it becomes unmistakably clear you have to land a job at another company or even in another field.
Beware: waiting until it escalates to that level will cost you a lot in terms of your psychological, social, and sometimes even financial wellbeing.
So, how does one know that it’s not just a phase? If one or several of these 6 signs below hit close to home, it’s a good idea to get started on the job search.
1. You’re Experiencing Burnout Symptoms
Burning out is synonymous with long-term work-related stress. Albeit it’s not a medical diagnosis in and of itself, suffering from burnout may lead to long-lasting physical and psychological consequences.
Here’s a short checklist for burnout symptoms. If you nod along to several or most of the following statements, it means your current job is taking a serious toll on your mental and/or physical health:
- I can’t bring myself to be productive, which has led to a noticeable decrease in work performance.
- I dread the next working day more often than not.
- I struggle with getting up in the morning.
- I find what I do at work meaningless.
- I haven’t had any professional accomplishments in a long time.
- I’m constantly worn out and exhausted.
- I’ve become irritable, impatient, cynical.
- I feel stuck, helpless, depressed.
- I struggle with insomnia.
- I often overeat or have issues with appetite.
- I regularly experience unexplained headaches, stomach problems, or other stress-induced physical symptoms.
- Burnout has been linked to heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and decreased immunity. That is not even to mention the consequences for your mental health.
So, if you’re suffering burnout because of work, changing jobs becomes a matter of self-preservation.
2. Quitting This Job Is an Exciting Prospect
Now and then, you have the urge to hand in a resignation letter right on the spot. The mere thought of not having to do this job anymore excites you. So, you daydream about what a new position at another company may entail.
Perhaps, you’ve even already mulled it over more substantially. You may have already found yourself browsing through tips on improving your resume on skillhub.com, “just in case”, or looking for companies currently hiring on LinkedIn.
Maybe you’ve even laid out a solid plan on switching jobs, from how to land an interview to wrapping up your current projects.
In either case, it means you already know you want to join other job seekers in the labor market. Perhaps, the reasons behind this desire to escape your current workplace evade you for now, but that’s not a problem. If this desire persists, stop putting off the job search.
3. You Know You Don’t Want to Be Doing This Forever
Imagine your life in 5 or 10 years. Sure, it may seem too cliché because every second recruiter asks about it. But you have no one to impress when the only person you’ll be answering to is yourself. In this case, it’s an honest reflection on the direction your life has taken and how satisfied you are with it.
Chances are, you’ll be horrified at the prospect of doing the same or similar job for the next decade. Or, your only thought could be a simple but telltale “Oh no”.
In this case, the current workplace isn’t the problem itself. It’s a sign the career path you’ve started on isn’t a good fit for your aspirations.
4. Layoff, Furlough, or Termination Is Looming Over the Horizon
If your current employer is struggling financially, furloughs and layoffs are always on the table. Check if the company has already used this option, or whether other industry players have come to that. Other signs you may be furloughed or laid off include decreases in workload and customer base.
You may also suspect you’re about to be fired. Whatever the reason may be, handing in a resignation letter is always a better option than termination.
In either case, there’s no point in just sitting there and waiting for the inevitable. Instead, it’s a great time to start sending out your job application before you’re left unemployed.
5. The Pay Doesn’t Cut It Anymore
Of course, the first thing to do in this situation is to ask for a raise. However, if your boss has let you know that it’s not on the table now and it won’t be in the nearest future, switching jobs is justified. Enthusiasm or promises won’t pay the bills, after all.
Alternatively, you may feel that even though the pay is good, it doesn’t outweigh the negative aspects of the job. Those may include dissatisfaction with work itself, lack of growth, toxic environment, etc.
Be realistic about your salary expectations, though. If your expenses have risen twofold but your qualification remains the same, don’t expect to find a similar position that pays twice as what you earn now.
6. Career Prospects Are Dwindling or Non-Existent
Convinced that promotion isn’t on the table any time soon, even though you have enough work experience? Feel like you’ve learned everything you could from this job, so there are no challenges, nowhere to grow?
In case you’ve nodded in agreement, you’re probably bored at work more often than not. You’re going through motions without any passion, interest, or satisfaction.
Wanting more from the activity that takes up 35-40 hours of your life per week is natural. If you can’t get it at your current workplace, there’s no shame in looking for professional development opportunities elsewhere. Gather all the resume tips and tricks you can find online and start working on finding a new job right away.
While every second career advice expert postulates that employees should stay at least a year in any position before moving on, it’s not an actual rule.
Yes, on the one hand, your current employer has made an investment by recruiting you. On the other hand, however, if staying in this job takes a serious toll on you, there’s no such thing as “too soon” for finding a better alternative.
But before you make any rash decisions, know this: it’s better to start looking for potential employers without quitting your current position. Landing a job may take 3 to 6 months, and not everyone can afford to live off their savings in the meantime. (Quitting a job will most likely disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits.)