By Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff
Are you constantly stressed about work? Do you feel as though you don’t fit in at the office? Have you experienced verbal abuse on the job? If so, you might be ready to move on. In fact, according to the experts, these are just a few of the 14 signs that it’s time to leave your job.
“For some, when it’s time to leave a job can be quite clear — where as for others, it might not be so obvious,” says Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, star of MTV’s Hired, and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad.
Teri Hockett agrees. The chief executive of career site What’s For Work? says some employees know when they’ve reached a point where it’s time for a change, “because they reflect on a regular basis to ensure their job aligns with their long-term goals.” If the two are not aligned, they often make adjustments to keep things on track, she says.
As for others, they don’t realize they’re unhappy with their job until someone points it out to them, or they realize they spend too much time at, or outside of work being unhappy about their position, she adds. “It’s the topic that keeps them up at night thinking, what should I do? They consult with friends and family, seeking advice, to validate their reasoning. They know the answer, which always involves change, but the difficult part is making the change itself.”
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, says some people are able to see the signs that it’s time to leave their job, and they’ll either try to improve the situation, simply gripe about it, or go into denial that the situation isn’t as bad as they think. But others are unaware of the signals that it’s time to get out, she says.
Here are 14 signs that your job isn’t a good fit for you anymore, and it’s time to consider how you can either improve the issues or think about leaving. “If multiple of these signs apply to your situation, then it’s likely time to leave as soon as possible,” Sutton Fell says.
You lack passion. “You’re not waking up most mornings with a feeling of excitement towards your job,” Hockett says. That feeling you had when you first started working there–thinking about all the possibilities and contributions ahead with a sense of glee—is gone.
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, says if you’re not doing what you love, you will never tap your true potential. “It will just continue to be ‘a job,’ and eventually each day will seem more of a grind.”
You’re miserable every morning. Quite simply, you dread going into work, Sutton Fell says.
Your company is sinking. There’s no need to go down with this ship, Taylor says. “Put on your life preserver and get in the water.”
You really dislike the people you work with and/or your boss. You can try to work out the problems you’re having with colleagues or your manager—but know that sometimes they’re not fixable.
You’re consistently stressed, negative, and/or unhappy at work. If you get anxious or unhappy just thinking about work, that’s a good sign that it’s time to move on, Sutton Fell says.
Your work-related stress is affecting your physical health. “The work, people, or culture is unhealthy, and it has a negative impact on you physically and mentally,” Hockett says. “The stress is present both inside and outside of work; it’s consuming. Your family and friends are affected by this, too.” Taylor says when work starts affecting your health–physical, mental, or both–it’s time to get out.
You don’t fit in with the corporate culture and/or you don’t believe in the company anymore. “You feel that there are ethical or moral differences in how the company and you believe the firm should operate; cultural differences; work ethic clashes, and so on,” Taylor says. Whatever the issue, you’re morally misaligned with your employer, and it’s an uncomfortable workplace setting.
Your work performance is suffering. If you’re no longer productive at work, even though you’re capable of performing the task(s), you might want to start looking for new work, Hockett says.
You no longer have good work-life balance. When you find that you’re spending less time with your family because of work, or you cannot commit the necessary time to your job, you should consider looking elsewhere, Sutton Fell says.
Your skills are not being tapped. Management doesn’t acknowledge that you have more to offer than what you’ve been contributing for a significant amount of time, you’ve been passed over for promotion, or attempts to take on more challenging assignments have failed, Taylor says. “No one has said anything, however, you are no longer getting the plum assignments, you are no longer asked to attend key meetings, or your proposals are met with silence or denial,” Hockett adds. “These are signs that you should be looking for a new opportunity.”
Your job duties have changed/increased, but the pay hasn’t. Sometimes there’s a good reason for this—but Sutton Fell says it’s usually a sign you should go. “When downsizing has moved your team into double time, but certainly nowhere near double compensation, it may be time to move on,” Taylor says. That’s especially true if the company is performing well, but it’s not reflected in your salary or other rewards.
Your ideas are not being heard. If your ideas are no longer heard or valued; you can’t seem to get time with the ‘powers that be’; or you cannot get approvals or acknowledgment for great work, think about finding a new job, Taylor says.
You’re bored and stagnating at your job. If you’re not growing or learning anything new, it might be time to leave, Sutton Fell says. Hockett and Kahn agree. They say when you’ve outgrown the position and there is no opportunity for advancement–or you seem to work the same job day in, day out without any opportunity for growth, even though you crave more–it’s time to get out.
You are experiencing verbal abuse, sexual harassment, or are aware of any type of other illegal behavior. If you’re the victim of bullying, sexual harassment or other egregious behavior, you should certainly keep an eye out for other positions, regardless of what corrective measures you’re taking, Taylor says.
Sutton Fell says you’ll also want to consider your options. “Can you quit and then find a new job, or do you need to job search while you’re still holding down your current one?” she says. “Then consider what a ‘better’ or ‘ideal’ job would look like, and what factors are important in your next job. Also, ask yourself whether you want to stay in your current field or if you’re interested in exploring a career change.”
Next you’ll want to create a game plan for yourself. “Come up with two to-do lists: one focused on how you can best leave your job, including things like officially giving notice, how much time you’ll continue working (two-weeks is standard), who else you need to tell and when (make sure you tell your immediate supervisor before they have a chance to hear it through the grapevine), whether you want to offer transitional help in training your replacement, and whether you’ll want to be accessible at all after you’re gone for lingering questions. The second list should be focused on what you need to do to find your next – and better – job,” she says.
Taylor says before you jump ship, you should write down the pros and cons of leaving your job, so you can get a broader perspective. “Examine what’s right with your current position, instead of focusing on the wrongs,” she says. “Ensure that you’ve confronted problems directly and uncovered every possible communications avenue, with everyone involved; prepare a ‘solutions’ document to consider all the steps that could improve your current job; and take a hard look at the risks involved with leaving.”
And finally, don’t let emotions get in the way of your critical decision; look at it from a business perspective, she says. “Is there a compelling financial, career-building or emotional return on investment for such a move? If so, don’t let inertia hurt your chances of career fulfillment.”
If you decide that leaving your job is the right decision, have options ready. “It’s always better to at least have offers on the table before you leave,” Taylor explains. “You’ll not only enhance your financial standing, but hiring managers prefer to hire someone who is employed.”
Lastly, remember the golden rule of never burning bridges, Hockett says. “In today’s world, the business community is well connected and people talk with each other, seeking recommendations before hiring people. Make a point to always be professional and do your part; take the high road in every situation,” she concludes.