No job is perfect, and every job has its ups and downs.  But, sometimes people need a wake-up call to realize that they are at the wrong job and it’s time to move on, either to a  different position at the same company or to another company or career altogether.  If you are experiencing any of the issues below, I would suggest looking at making changes to your employment.

1. You’re not learning anything new or being challenged

I’d rather take less pay at a job where I’m learning new useful skills than work somewhere where I’m stagnating and bored silly.  Maybe the job was great for a while, but you’ve reached a point where you’re no longer being challenged.  For me, that would be the time to seek something more interesting, either within the same company, or at a different one.

2. You don’t believe in your company’s products or services

Does your company make shoddy products?  Would you buy and use your company’s products or services (“eat your own dog food”), or would you use a competitor’s?  If you don’t believe in your company’s products, you’re not doing them any favors by sticking around.  Go elsewhere, both for yourself, and for the sake of your company (and for the sake of us consumers of those products).

3. You don’t agree with the company’s vision, values, or ethics.

Ask yourself these questions:  Are you being asked to do something dishonest as part of your job?  Do you believe in what your company is doing?  Is your company making the world a better place?  Work is so much more gratifying if you know that your efforts are truly helping people and improving the world.  Find a company that does something that you believe in.  I’d rather take lower pay doing a job where we genuinely help people over working for a company that has shady practices or rips people off.  Imagine if no one was willing to work for dishonest companies.  The world would be a better place.

4. You hate your job, or your boss, or your company culture/work environment

No job is a picnic, and no boss is perfect, but ask yourself this question: Would you recommend working at your company to a friend?  If the answer is “no”, you might want to start looking for a company with a culture that you can be excited about.  If you’re not sure, gather some data.  Every day after work, rate your enjoyment of your job on a scale from one to five, five being awesome and one being horrible.  If your average is less than three, you should consider another position or company.  Of course, this scale is very subjective, but I think the exercise has value.

5. Your job is draining your energy and life force

You can recognize your true calling in life when you find work that invigorates you.  Any job can be exhausting, even the best ones.  But, if your job is draining your motivation day after day, you might want to ask yourself if you are really cut out for it.  As a manager, there are more than a few people that I’ve had to let go.  It was never easy.  However, most of the time, they ended up in jobs that were actually better suited to them, and actually wished they had found those jobs sooner!  I don’t believe you have to be stuck at the same job forever.  If you are not satisfied where you are at, take some time to look around.

6. Your company is in serious financial trouble

Going down with the ship time after time doesn’t look good on your resume.  Employers inevitably ask why each job ended.  I’ve seen resumes where two or three times a candidate’s employment ended because the company went out of business.  However irrational it might be, if a candidate is the common denominator in a string of failed companies, I start to wonder.  If your company looks like it will be purchased by another company, then fine.  But if you don’t see that in the cards, you might want to look elsewhere and jump ship before it goes down.

7. You are subject to physical, mental, or emotional abuse, “bullying”

A friend of mine was bullied at her workplace, reminding me that bullying is not confined to our schools.  It can and does happen at the workplace as well.  This is a seriously unhealthy situation.  If there is a way to get the bullying or abuse stopped by reporting it, then great.  But often the bulliers have the tacit approval of management, or sometimes ARE management themselves.  If so, it might be best to seek other employment.

8. Your health is suffering

Every job has stress.  It can’t be avoided.  But when the stress is so severe that it starts to have medical consequences, you need to take a step back and determine if it’s really worth it.  In my opinion, it’s not.  Or perhaps your workplace is unsafe.  If you can’t fix these problems at your current job, it might be time to look elsewhere.

9. Your family and other important personal relationships are suffering

I am a firm believer in hard work, but I also believe in quality of life.  Americans are the hardest working people in the world (yes, even more than the legendary Japanese).  It seems that workers in other parts of the world have done a much better job of establishing work-life balance.  We can do it here too.  Employees can leave companies that have poor work-life balance for ones that recognize the value time off for yourself and your family.  Or perhaps your work has you traveling all of the time.  Is it really worth it to miss your kids growing up?

10. Your pay is not enough to support yourself, or is well below the industry standard

If your job title doesn’t command the pay level that you want, you should think about changing the type of work you do.  Also, if you are being paid significantly below the industry standard, you might want to think about how to fix that.  Sometimes management won’t recognize the great work you are doing without a little reminder.  You should try to rectify the situation, but if the company is not willing to fix the problem, perhaps it’s time for something new.On the other hand, if you are satisfied with your pay and happy with your job, I think that leaving a company simply for more pay can be risky.  I’ve seen many people jump ship from jobs they were happy at to go to a competitor solely for more pay. Later, they realized that the additional money wasn’t worth it.  The grass wasn’t greener on the other side, and more money didn’t make up for that.  So, getting more pay at a different company is great if you are a good fit for that company.  But, if your pay is sufficient, and you are happy where you are, I have found that that is actually a pretty hard rare combination to find and you should consider a move with caution.

Some Solutions

Leaving your job is not the only option for dealing with these problems.  You can talk to your boss.  You can try morph your existing job into one you want, or try to find a different position at the same company.  If you are an employee in good standing (and management recognizes your value), they should want to keep you, even if it’s at a different position.

If you want to switch departments, hang out with people in those departments and learn as much as you can, even if it’s after hours, on your own time.  Most employers will welcome you reaching out to a different department to learn how they operate.  That will make switching much easier.

But sometimes, the writing is on the wall and the only solution is to leave.

What other reasons do you have for switching jobs?  I am sure I have missed some.  Tell me about your experiences. – Brian

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