Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How do you know when it’s time to move on?

• When you're romantically involved but can't stop thinking about other people, that’s usually a signal the relationship is weakening. The same holds true for your job. If you’re spending your time at work fantasizing about quitting, then you're ready to end the fantasy and just do it.

* If you watch the clock like a student waiting for recess … If you’re concentrating more and more on your hobbies, vacations and outings, it may be a sign that you're looking to replace something that you're not getting at work.

* If you don't have at least one conversation a year with your boss about your career prospects and progress in the company. Or it’s always you who has to initiate this, and then nothing further gets done about it. If conversations with those you report to are only about your shortcomings and areas that need improvement. Or you just got a poor performance review unexpectedly, right out of the blue.

* If you’ve no longer invited to important meetings or canvassed for your opinion (this usually means you're out of the e-mail loop too). If your colleagues know more about what’s going on in your area than you do. If some of your responsibilities have been taken away and given to others. Or your job title's changed so many times that the people you work with don’t know what you do anymore.

* If you’ve been discouraged from joining professional associations or attending conferences.

* If you’ve resigned yourself to keeping your head down and staying out of trouble. Technology changes every day and unless your technical skills are evolving, too, you run the risk of becoming obsolete – and eventually unemployable.

• If you keep applying for other positions, but keep getting passed over for people with less seniority and/or experience. If it seems that everyone is getting promoted but you, then it’s time to do a major job assessment. Ask yourself: “How do I make it to the top of the ladder if I’m stuck on the bottom rung?” If you can’t see a way up, then start looking for a new ladder. It’s time to move to where you’ll be appreciated and rewarded for your knowledge, skills and effort.

* Is your current job a necessary stepping-stone to get to the place you plan to be five years from now? If its not, then ask yourself why are you still there? It doesn't matter how fast you’re going if you're heading in the wrong direction.

* If you’re watching your back all the time. When other employees take credit for your contributions or steal your ideas, this is usually symptomatic of an unhealthy workplace. Most companies have minor rivalries, but if the day-to-day competition seems more fierce than friendly, leave before it gets worse.

* If your boss isn't boss material and watching the sitcom The Office seems like reality TV. Studies show that 80% of employees leave their jobs because of bad bosses. You don't need to adore your supervisor to feel good about your job, but there's a difference between the occasional screw-up and consistent hypocrisy. Bosses who don't walk the walk by meeting the standards they’ve set for others may signal bigger organizational problems with accountability that won’t change even if they’re eventually replaced.

* If you have a good boss but you’re in a bad company. When the company's in financial trouble, your job is too. If your boss starts to talk about how the company's willing to do anything to reduce costs and boost profitability, this often mean layoffs are imminent. If you think your job's on the line, start interviewing immediately. You can't lose. You get a new job, your boss wishes you well, and you go on to a new company (proof that your job really was in jeopardy). Or you resign, your boss offers you a raise and a promotion, and you decide to stay on.

* Money is a very common reason for moving on, especially if you know you're underpaid for your present position, can't make ends meet on what you're making, or have financial goals that require more income.

* Maybe you're burned out. You’ve grown tired of driving the same daily commute and solving the same problems over and over again. Or maybe you have a very stressful position where your decisions can mean life or death and, you’re suffering from job-induced traumatic stress. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself avoiding work and making or taking any excuse not to go to the office, then you need to find a new job.

* In this age of mergers and acquisitions, consolidation often leads to redundancies. Cost cutting opportunities due to overlapping responsibilities or centralization of functions may signal future job reductions in your company and/or your department. In this situation, keep your options open and start looking for safer alternatives. Consolidation also frequently means new leadership and changes in accepted policies and work practices. If the new regime brings conflicting goals or abrasive personalities, it may be time for you to consider a change as well.

* If you get unpleasant physical symptoms on Sunday night because you aren't looking forward to working Monday. The mind and body are one, and if you're not happy in your job, your body will eventually be unhappy as well.

But a chronic case of ‘the Monday disease’ doesn't necessarily mean that you dust off your resume and begin looking for greener pastures. In some cases, the workplace blues can be fixed. The challenge is knowing which ones are correctable - and how to correct them. In this situation, take a hard look at your current situation: Begin by tapping into what you originally liked about your job. Remember why you went to work for this company in the first place. If you still think you like what you see, look into a department transfer. Sometimes, a change of scenery or a new challenge are all you need to fall in love again.

Quick tips for moving on:

* Line up a new job before you quit. Employed people have more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating salary. Candidates looking for their next paycheck are likely to accept lower wages, and hiring managers know this.

* Even if you've got a good reason for moving on, don't jump at the first thing that comes your way. A good job search will uncover more than one opportunity and it’s wise to weigh the pros and cons of each one before you decide. You don't want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. That first offer may eventually end up being the direction you head in, but try to get a few more offers on your plate before making a decision. Caution is a wise choice when you're deciding your future.

* On the other hand, don't let caution and fear of change hold you back. Yes, you could fail in a new position or get a rotten boss, but you also take a risk pining away in your present job. If you’re afraid of losing a new job to corporate maneuverings, remember there’s no job security any more. In an uncertain world, you could lose your current job unexpectedly as well. The only security you have is your self – your skills, experience and willingness to learn and contribute. There will always be risks and uncertainties, but embracing risk sometimes brings the greatest rewards.

Finally, as you consider moving on, remember, "The great thing to learn about life is - first, do not do what you DON'T want to do, and second, do what you DO want to do."

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