Are you unhappy in your job, but unsure whether it is the right time to move on? Have changes been made and you’re debating whether it is for you anymore? Do you feel out of place, but it’s too hard to adapt? How do you know when it’s the right time to look for a new job?
It’s never great to work in a job you hate. And although hate is a strong word, it’s when this feeling is eating away at your soul that you start to question whether it’s time to go. Perhaps your boss is the cause of your pain and frustration. Maybe one picture was painted when you accepted the offer with smiles and handshakes, but a contrasting reality has now revealed itself.
In modern Britain the days of a job for life are seen by many as dead and buried. And while some view that as a crying shame, others see it is a sign of liberty to the workforce. You no longer have to resign yourself to a job resembling monotonous torture as you have the freedom of choice. If you want a new job and a fresh start you can have it.
So why do some people deliberate for weeks, months or even years with themselves over moving on?
In different social circles the act of changing job can vary in its value of significance. To some changing job can be a normal process of life; no big deal. But to others it can be a hugely stressful and debilitating experience.
You may have your entire social circle and friendship group employed with you at the same company. If you were to leave that could have a dramatic impact on your social life. Some may reason that you could make new friends in a different place of work, but you may not see it that way.
Alternatively, a sense of loyalty to what the company has done for you in the past could cloud your judgement. Your principles may value fidelity despite knowing in your heart of hearts that your employer doesn’t feel the same way about you.
Regardless of your principles or social life, you owe it to your own happiness to do something about it. Living in perpetual misery and postponing activity won’t solve anything.
So how do you know when it’s the right time to look for a new job?
Firstly, I personally dislike the job-hopping culture that some people fall into the repetitive habit of performing. By that I am referring to those that spend six months here and there in permanent jobs, casually changing employer like it’s yesterday’s fad. So taking action before the cork is off the champagne is not the right time in my book.
It costs tens of thousands from an accounting perspective to replace the average permanent employee in the UK. This nonchalant tactic therefore annoys me just as much as a company treating an employee like they are an expendable number.
In an ideal world it’d be obvious what a good employer to work for is, but it’s usually not so clear. Some of my other posts cover a modern PR trend where companies tend to fabricate their talent acquisition marketing. It isn’t uncommon to see companies big and small paint their employee culture like it’s a quixotic utopia when it’s really just a mundane run-of-the-mill milieu.
To answer the question, it’s when it’s playing on your mind and it won’t go away. That Monday morning dread still ebbing away on a Thursday. The clock watching. The dread of bumping into your boss and having to brave a smile when you’re secretly dying inside.
When it gets to that point what should you do?
You need to take action. Do something about it. Do not wallow away in self-pity hoping it’ll fix itself and burying your head in the sand.
Dependent on your preferred method, you need to draw up a list of what it is you want in your next role. Don’t make your next role simply anything other than what it is you’re doing now. That strategy will only aim to solve one problem, but possibly create others. You could end up having a similar issue with another problem in a new role otherwise.
Think about what job it is you want.
What’s important to you? Yes, it needs to fix the problem making you unhappy now, but it also needs to avoid being the cause of other problems. What is it you also don’t want in a job? How about the day to day duties? What do you want the future to look like? Consider the location, or the hours or the other benefits?
With all that you’ll probably end up with a lengthy list of wishes and requirements to satisfy your wildest dreams. But there could be a problem. What if you simply cannot find a job that ticks all of those boxes? How will you become satisfied?
Not to spoil your party, but unless you have 10 years experience, a 1st class degree from Oxbridge and your best mate’s dad runs the company you could have obstructions. The perfect job is not only rare, but it’s probably not just your perfect job. Other people will want it too. And unless you have what they don’t you could end up disappointed.
So what do you do about it?
Short of bribing the managing director and if that fails threatening them (not a great tactic and it never usually works) you’ll be best served revising your original list. It’s easy creating a list of wants and needs. It is in theory anyway. Trying to narrow it down, and in essence compromise, isn’t so easy.
This requires a bit of a reality check. Downgrade your expectations. Get to the very core of what it is that is actually important to you. Maybe your salary expectations are a little too optimistic. Perhaps your preference for holiday allowance is a bit limiting. Possibly your ambitions for senior roles are a bit premature.
Whatever it is, if you can narrow your list down so that you can find roughly 10 jobs that fit your criteria and that your skillset and experience meet, you are probably in the right ball park.
We all want more.
It’s in our nature. But if you want something you can’t have and confuse wanting with expecting, you’ll have a rather miserable time in your career. Therefore, don’t confuse wanting with expecting. Downgrading your expectations isn’t underselling yourself. It’s simply being realistic. If you can find a realistic job with a great company that can offer you a terrific future, then you could be on to a winner. That’s the right idea.
I wrote a post about how to get a job in a competitive industry so if you are looking for your dream job and want to try everything you can then this may offer some useful insights.
Should you speak to your boss about how you feel?
They say talking can solve many problems. If you are torn between loyalty or a good relationship with your boss and either hating the job you’re in or simply feeling it is time to move on there is an argument to speak to your boss about it.
That being said it can be an emotional time for you and, dependent on the boss, this could be used against you. Most bosses won’t want to lose a staff member. Not only does it put added pressure on them to achieve the same targets with less headcount, it also means the headache of having to recruit someone to replace you. This is not an easy task if you are a valued employee and will cost both time and money.
The chances are they will try to talk you around.
They could offer words of reassurance, encouragement and maybe the arm around the shoulder approach. Failing that they may try to flip it on you. “Are you seriously going to let me down” or “I thought you were better than this”.
The question is whether it is in your best interests though. It’s common sense to suspect that your boss won’t want to lose you, so they will try to justify that it is. Any reassurance or guilt trip reverse psychology doesn’t change facts. If you want to leave and that keeps niggling away at you it is just a matter of time until you leave. And once you’ve had that conversation with your boss you cannot undo what has been said.
Not to play the pessimist, but do you really think the promotion, training or investment in you will come if the powers that be know you could be looking to leave? I know this doesn’t sound promising, but even the nicest boss will have a whopping dilemma if you have that conversation with them.
The best idea is to discuss this with someone from a neutral standpoint. Someone who values you first and not how your decision could impact them. I’d suggest someone you see as mature, level headed and rational. This way you are more likely to get useful advice that is in your best interests.
What if they say that you’d be making a mistake though?
That wasn’t in the script. You’ve had enough of the job. You don’t see a future. You go to that mature, level headed and rational person who values your best interests first and then BANG! They tell you it’d be a mistake to leave. That you’ll regret it. That you should think really hard about what you’re doing.
In that circumstance I’d suggest you find out why they think that. Perhaps they have a legitimate reason and you need to take a step back and think about this. Maybe you’re being irrational. The important thing is to take on board the advice.
However, more often than not, if you feel that badly about the job to consult advice then they’ll probably agree that you are doing the right thing in leaving.
The reason I included this last section is for you to be doubly sure by using an independent and trusted individual to validate this. This way if they’re agreeing with you then you know you’re doing the right thing.
With this last part, this pretty much sums things up. If you feel unhappy in your job and the dread of the place keeps eating away at you, you need to take action. Do something about it. That means commit to looking for a new job. Not any old job. Find one you want, but keep your aspirations in the realms of reality. Ensure you speak to a neutral and trusted friend or family member who has your back and see if they agree with your logic. If they do, get moving and get out of that hell hole. Life’s too short.
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