You’ve heard the advice that you need to stick it out at a job for at least a year so your resume doesn’t raise any flags with future employers. But what if the role you’re in simply isn’t the right fit?
The average person today changes jobs twelve times throughout their career, and spends less than five years at each company. Common reasons for changing jobs include higher pay, geographic relocation, and career advancement. While the time people spend at any given company is getting shorter and shorter, you still want to be strategic about how long you stay with each employer and how you time when you leave a company.
In this post, we’ll walk you through five important considerations to take into account as you decide if your current job is still the right fit. We’ll also help you figure out what you should do next.
1. Are You Inspired By Your Manager?
Naturally, if you don’t feel inspired, respected, and valued by your manager, it will be difficult to stick it out for long.
As an employee, you may not have a lot of leverage to ask for a new manager or speak up about poor management practices. Companies invest a lot in their management teams and want to believe they’ve hired the right people, so it can be difficult to advocate for yourself.
That said, before you consider quitting because of your boss, here are a few things you can try:
- Request regular one-on-one meetings where you and your manager can get to know each other and better understand each other’s working styles and objectives.
- Ensure your goals are aligned so that you can see eye-to-eye as much as possible.
- Ask for feedback early and often from your manager to ensure their expectations are reasonable and you can meet them.
- Approach HR, a trusted colleague or another manager about the situation if you feel it’s appropriate to get their private input and advice.
- Investigate whether it’s possible to switch to another team within the company so you can work under a new manager.
If you’ve exhausted these options, or simply feel like you can’t do your best working under this manager, it may be a good time to move to greener pastures. You want to feel empowered, supported, and valued in your job, and if your manager can’t offer that to you, and there is no recourse internally, your best bet may be to find a company with a track record for excellent management.
2. Is The Role Still Interesting?
Employee engagement is a huge issue in the workforce today — and since you’re reading this post, perhaps you’re not feeling so engaged yourself? A recent Gallup Poll found that only 32 percent of the U.S. workforce feels engaged and interested in their work. Another 51 percent are not engaged, and the remaining 17 percent are completely disengaged.
Here are a few signals that indicate you’re no longer engaged and interested in your work:
- The product no longer excites you
- You no longer enjoy the projects you do
- You can’t wait until the clock strikes 5
- You dread Monday mornings
- You’ve lost the appeal of working for the company you once were excited to join
- Talking to your manager about working on projects that better align with your interests and skills
- Finding other ways to engage with the company, such as by planning team outings or office activities
- Taking on a side project that can fulfill your interests and passions (Bonus: this can actually make you a better employee!)
If these options don’t pan out, it’s probably time to move on.
3. Are You Still Learning New Skills?
If you’re not learning, you’re not growing as a professional. Learning on the job not only makes you a better employee now, but will set you up to advance your career down the road. So, if you’re no longer learning new skills in your current job, that’s a red flag that you’re not in an environment that will foster your long-term professional growth.
You want to be sure that you’re not only furthering your knowledge in your specialty, but that you’re also learning:
- Tangential skills
- Business skills
- Teamwork skills
- Leadership skills
- Communication skills
As Dan Baptiste, vice president of brand partnerships at Skyword, Inc. says in this post, you can seek out new learning opportunities by speaking up about what else you want to do in your role and asking to take on more leadership work. This demonstrates your initiative and hunger to learn, which most organizations will welcome with open arms.
If, on the other hand, you find yourself in a work environment that does not foster growth and new learning opportunities, despite your best efforts to go above and beyond, it may be a frustrating uphill battle. At that point, you should look for an opportunity where growth is encouraged and nurtured so that you know the job you’re in is helping you work towards the next big step in your career — whatever that may be.
4. Do You Enjoy The People You Work With?
Unless you’re a team of one working alone in a closed-door office, you’ll be interacting with many people at your job. If the people you work with are collaborative, friendly, open-minded and genuine people, that can make all the difference.
But if the people you’re surrounded with are uninspiring, negative, or don’t match your work style, that can make your day-to-day very difficult. Not only will it be tough to get your own work done if you’re relying on them, but it can make the very thought of being in the office and sitting in meetings with them rather unappealing.
To thrive in your job, you need to be surrounded with people who challenge you to be better, value your ideas, and help you move your career forward. If you’re feeling like your colleagues are constant roadblocks to your success or dragging down the morale of the company, that’s going to take a toll on your career.
5. Is The Role Challenging Enough?
While you certainly don’t want to be so challenged that you feel you’re unable to keep up, you do need to be challenged in some ways in order to grow. Many startups host quarterly “hackathons” that encourage employees to bring new ideas to the table, but if your company doesn’t offer this opportunity, you can be proactive by taking on one challenging project a month outside your normal tasks to exercise your brain and stay on your toes.
If you’ve found your role has become too routine and easy for you, consider asking management if there is an opportunity to move horizontally or vertically to a role that will offer more growth opportunities. If this is not a possibility, or the company culture encourages mediocrity over envelope-pushing, it may be time to move on.
When vetting potential employers to see if the work would be sufficiently challenging, ask what day-to-day problems and goals the team is faced with and any other extracurriculars (like hackathons) the team does. Their answers to these questions can tell you a lot about how they value challenging their employees to be their best.
Tips For Figuring Out Your Next Move
Sanity Check With Informational Interviews
It’s human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you don’t look before you leap, you may be unpleasantly surprised at a new gig, too. So, before you find yourself in a role that’s just as unfulfilling as the last, we recommend going on informational interviews. These are informal conversations that you can have with people in your network or beyond that simply help you understand what else is out there.
Whether you want to sit down for coffee with someone at a company you’ve had your eye on just to see what the opportunities are, or want to get the perspective of a trusted colleague about your career, these interviews can be quite useful. Plus, they’re a great way to exercise your interviewing muscle so that when it does come time for formal interviews, you’re already comfortable and prepared.
Coming out of these informational interviews, you’ll either confirm that you should stay put, or that there are more interesting opportunities out there and it’s time to get serious about job-hunting.
Follow The Six Month Rule
You may be wondering how often you should be evaluating whether your job matches these criteria. Six months into a job is a good timeframe to start thinking about this, because it allows you to get into a rhythm and work out some kinks before you come to any hard and fast conclusions. From there, every six months or so, evaluate whether the job is still meeting expectations. If it is meeting the criteria that matter most to you, that’s a great signal that you're in the right place. But if key pieces are missing, it’s time to begin exploring what else is out there.
Leveraging a professional network is a great way to identify new and exciting opportunities for yourself. Using ReferralMob, you get access to new opportunities and employers in Boston, and it’s completely free to join. When you land a role through our platform, you’ll get an exclusive hiring bonus of $500 — so you can get paid to find the perfect job!