Some of us are lucky enough to get employed at an ideal company right after college. These lucky few will move up the corporate ladder with a combination of hard work, positive work environment, progressive learning, and time. But for the rest of us, we may find ourselves stuck in a first or second job, and we still have to establish the right career footing in our late twenties. It can be a career dead end unless you change jobs now.
Here are ten signs that your career is going nowhere and it’s time to find a new job.
It’s been two years or more since you joined the company and you find yourself doing the same things repeatedly. Sometimes you feel like working in an assembly line. You’ve asked your employer for new responsibilities or new projects, but he turned it down. It’s time to change jobs.
A career is the sum of the experiences, skills, and knowledge that you’ve earned from work. This sum makes you more competent and earns you more authority or expertise on your field. If you’re not learning new things over the course of time, you’re not moving your career.
It doesn’t have to be a promotion or a departmental change. In most cases, a lateral project is all you need to expand your knowledge. For instance, if you’re a sales executive assigned to conduct personal pitches to clients in your designated territory, you can suggest to adapt an online newsletter to reach out to your customers. This way, you’ll learn a new thing aside from the sales skills that you’ve developed through time: online marketing. Think of a lateral project that can help you perform better and preferably involving people from other departments to expand your knowledge. If the current work environment prevents you from doing these things, it’s time to move out.
If your salary is stuck where it was a couple of years ago, you’re not having a career but just a job. Businesses are designed to earn more profits every year, and they usually do or they risk folding up. Chances are, if your employer is not raising your pay scale, the company is either losing business or it doesn’t care much about sharing its profits. Both reasons should compel you to look for a better job.
Moreover, earning more doesn’t always mean in cash, especially if the company is short of it. Many startups offer stocks as part of the compensation package. The idea of your income being tied with your company’s potential income is good enough reason to stick to your job. Otherwise, it’s best to look for an employer who is willing to give you a chance to earn more.
It’s a career killer: when you’re bored with your job. It’s no secret that career achievers have one thing in common: passion to conquer a challenge. It’s the thing that will make you work harder, excel, innovate, and be creative. But without a challenging task, it’s hard to outperform yourself on the next round and your career will likely stagnate. It’s time to look for a challenging job.
In fact, we measure the most successful people not by how much they earn, but by the challenge that they have overcome. Steve Jobs is credited for making mobile phones smart and cool. Neil Armstrong is hailed as the first man on the moon. We know Christopher Columbus to have discovered America for Europeans. We don’t really care how much they had earned, but just how much they had accomplished.
Similarly, you need a challenge to measure your own career success. The challenge can be short-term like closing a new client (instead of simply maintaining accounts) or long-term such as outsourcing non-core services to streamline the business.
If you believe your boss is behaving unfairly towards you, not just once or a few times, but for the longest time, it may be out of character and not of work-related stress. A boss who keeps on discrediting you or stop short of crediting your achievements can ruin your long-term plans. Unless the human resources department can work a way out for you, it’s time to shift to a new job with a positive work environment.
The American Psychological Association points out that if an employer’s hostile behavior is caused by stress, that behavior can be managed by understanding where he’s coming from. Is he pressured to meet his superiors’ expectations? Is he threatened by your better skills or more advance education? You can improve the situation with some goodwill techniques. Warm up to your boss by showing him you’re a partner in his plan. Give him credit for the department’s achievements. Socialize with him. But if he remains the bad boss that he is even while you try to build goodwill for months now, you deserve a better job. Ask for a transfer; or look for a new employer.
Every workplace has its cultural quirks. But sometimes, the quirks by co-workers can be counter-productive that it threatens your career mobility. If your employer cannot help you address this problem, it’s time to look for a new job.
Extreme cases like sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or drug and alcohol-related scenarios are addressed by state and federal regulations. However, some hostile work environments are caused by frictions in the nature of work, rather on personalities. For instance, sales people and advertising people are usually at each other’s throat when it comes to giving credit for the company’s record earnings or, worse, losses. If you’re a solitary copywriter working in a roomful of sales officers, you may find it difficult to perform your task. Without an ad team to back your ideas, you’re likely to be relegated to secondary status. Even if you’re in good terms with your co-workers, but they have an undue influence over your work, that’s a hostile environment for your career, at least.
Loyalty only counts so far as the company can earn profits for itself and you. Yes, you should be conscious if the company’s earnings is increasing, plateauing, or sliding steeply. After all, your salary depends on the business. Think like an investor. Get a long-term picture where your company is heading. Is it a sunflower field or a scorched farmland? If you believe the ship is sinking, jump now before it drags you down to the bottom of the sea.
But don’t jump at the first sign of distress. Businesses do falter occasionally and eventually recover their footing. However, a company that’s losing market grip continuously and, worse, management hasn’t shown or inspired a solution to stop the bleeding is a sign that the sinking is for real.
When you’re single, a hyper-active, fast-paced career that sends you to far-off places or nightly events may be your cup of tea. But now that you have a family, you want to settle down to more predictable working hours and off-days. It can also be the reverse when you’re looking for a more exciting work culture. In both cases, ask your employer for a new position or task to help you adjust to your new life. If the company cannot help you, it’s time to look for a new job that fits your kind of lifestyle.
Sometimes looking for a new job to adjust to your new life means changing states. Some states may have lower paying scale, but they also have lower living costs. If adjusting to a new life means raising a family, you might be interested to know America’s most and least family-friendly cities cited by Forbes.com. New York City is said to be the costliest city for a family, while San Jose in California is the most affordable.
Many people find themselves not doing what they are good at because they simply grabbed the first job opportunity that came their way. It’s a wrong fit at the start, but it should not stay that way. Ask the human resources for a transfer within the company, but if that’s not possible, it’s time to look for a new job that fits your skills.
The best way to excel in career is to tap your best skill. Are you a natural leader back in college but you haven’t been given a chance to head a team, never mind a department? Are you creative but have to stick to templates designed by a management that can’t think out of the box? You may be good at building rapport but you’re not exposed to prospective clients. You should build on your strength and your job should allow you to do that.
Of course changing jobs may be a simple case of getting a better offer. The offer can be higher salary, greater career mobility, better benefits, or an improved work schedule. In any case, if you believe this opportunity comes knocking but once, grab it and it’s time for a new job.
Leaving a job for a better offer doesn’t mean you’re burning bridges behind you. Rather, it’s better to leave in goodwill—with advance warning that you’re leaving or a simple thank-you letter expressing your gratitude for all those years with the company—because you may need your old employer in the future, whether as a prospect, partner, client lead, or whatever. It’s a small world and you should be expanding your network of career people at every chance.
It’s never too late to shift career gears. If you have the passion for this newfound career, that passion will likely carry you to excel. It’s time to shift jobs.
Martha has been sales pitching enterprise solutions to small- and medium-scale companies. She’s caught in the unenviable position between demanding clients and hardheaded programmers. Until she dipped herself into coding out of frustration to meet client expectations, she didn’t realize she has a knack for this new career. What’s more, she believes she can program better solutions because she has the perspective of both client and programmer.
Career shifting is a milestone and you should think hard before you do it. Still, the only thing worse than shifting careers and regretting it later is not shifting at all when you know your career is heading nowhere.
You should not stop at simply keeping a job when you know you have more to offer, and to get in return. But you need to be proactive and conscious that in career mobility, you have the last say, not your employer, and that can mean looking for a better opportunity, elsewhere.
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