By Robin Madell
Everyone has discouraging days in the office. Whether you're feeling overworked, stressed out, fearful or bored, the bottom line is that most opportunities weren't meant to last forever. No matter what stage you're at in your career, each position comes with a life span that varies depending on the individual and the circumstances surrounding the work. Once you've reached the end of that ride, it's time to start looking for your next career step if you want to avoid stagnating.
But determining whether it's just a bad day or you're really ready for a job change isn't always easy. How do you know when it's time to go, and what steps should you take once you've decided it's time to move on? Start by learning to recognize four signs that you may be ready to quit your job.
1. You need more interesting problems to solve. When you first started your job, chances are that you faced many complex challenges and had plenty of new territory to tackle in order to stay engaged. Yet as you've mastered your turf, what used to seem exciting may have become expected or routine. In one survey, 76 percent of respondents listed "looking for more interesting problems to solve" as a top reason they would be open to considering a new position in 2016, according to a survey of new members from Seattle-based Anthology, a career matchmaking tool. So, if you find yourself bored by responsibilities that once excited you, then you may be ready for a job change.
2. You feel sick every Sunday night. If thinking about your job has become so unpleasant that it's affecting your health and well-being, that's a clear red flag that it's time to do something else. If you feel panicked or simply sick as the weekend draws to a close, you may have reached the end of the line with your current position. "You should seriously consider making a career change when your job is making you physically ill," says executive and leadership expert Libby Gill. "It's not worth it to work at a job that causes you so much stress that it's affecting your immune system, mental health or overall quality of life."
3. You don't feel connected to your company's mission. When you believe that the company you're employed at is doing great work, it goes a long way toward career satisfaction. If you've lost that conviction in the meaning and mission behind what you do for your company, then you may no longer be a fit for your current role – or any role – there. "The biggest driver of someone starting to be ready to leave their current role is rarely a specific event – a bad one-on-one, a tough meeting, et cetera," says Tom Leung, co-founder and CEO of Anthology and former senior business product manager at Google. "Instead, it's a disconnect between the individual and the mission of the company or the problems that individual is tasked with solving. Usually, that's the first step and then a specific tipping point event occurs, which causes the individual to start wondering, 'Maybe this isn't the best place for me.'"
4. Your mind is somewhere else. In some cases, you may already know that your job isn't right for you. You might have a very clear vision of the type of role that you want – and you're not currently in it. "If you're constantly thinking about what you'd really like to be doing instead of what you actually are doing, then a career change may be in order," Gill says. She adds that before you jump ship, you should look around internally to see if there is a job (or a boss) you'd prefer to your current one. "Often, there's a great job just a few cubicles away if you take the time to network," Gill says.
As tech companies, such as Anthology and LinkedIn, make it easier for employed people to remain "in play" on the job market, the bar for passive job search has come down dramatically. "We see this trend continuing in the future, such that an individual may not be planning to make a move, but when they are able to see a really great opportunity that's a much better fit for their career than their current job, they are in a position to act on it," Leung says. "Whereas a few years ago, they might never have even known about such an opportunity because you had to be looking to learn about them."
Leung added that his company has noticed a trend where people who may be content in their current roles still want to be informed about what else is out there. Says Leung: "This 'continuous background search' approach is along the lines of maximizing one's career by being open to the idea that their current job is part of a series of new chapters in their career."