Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Clash teed up this question in the ‘80s. Although their lyrics were pointed at a questionable relationship, the same question can be applied today when it comes to your employer. How and when do you know it’s time to leave your current job and company? It’s a question we all struggle with at some point in our career.

[“This indecision’s bugging me…”] Many of the signs that it’s time to leave your job include:

  • Sinking feeling in your stomach on Sunday evening
  • Feeling of dread going into work on Monday morning
  • General difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
  • Bringing frustration from the work day home with you; complaining and being negative about your job to friends and family
  • You’re working significant hours without acknowledgement or recognition of your contributions.
  • Feeling like you can’t get out of the company or your job soon enough
  • Actively and desperately considering taking a job, any job, just to get out of where you are as soon as possible

While those feelings indicate it’s time to leave a job, what they actually point to is that you’ve stayed too long. Here’s a look at leading indicators to help you begin entertaining the decision to leave far ahead of the negativity curve:

Leading Indicators

  • You’ve been in same role for more than two years and your compensation increases have slowed.
  • You’re seeing peers who were once at your level receiving promotions while you are not.
  • You’ve stopped receiving projects or work representing increasing responsibility.
  • You feel you have significant capacity to contribute at a higher, greater level.
  • You’ve started to not look forward to meeting with your boss, or the meetings seem to follow the same format or conversation week after week or month after month.
  • A visible, exciting career path is not apparent or reachable in the immediate future.
  • You’re wondering whether the “grass is greener” elsewhere.
  • You question whether you’d be leaving too much on the table by leaving now.
  • The idea of leaving your job and company is equally exciting and scary.
  • You love your co-workers but the work is losing its luster.
  • You just want more.

The key is to make a move from your job and company well before the heightened feelings of aggravation, frustration and negativity set in. Otherwise, negativity and frustration may prevent you from putting your best foot forward while networking, interviewing, and assessing opportunity. So, how do you do that?

  1. Notice the list of leading indicators. This list also represents opportunity. It may be that you haven’t yet expressed or communicated to your boss that you feel under-utilized or your desire to take on more and grow in your career. What does your boss think? Could it be that you’re giving the perception that you’re happy with the work and your role as it is? What are the blind spots your boss reveals to you?
  1. Now, let’s say a few conversations with your boss don’t reveal or yield a worthy plan (one that you’ve constructed in partnership with your boss). It’s time to network. Begin reaching out to professionals who you admire to learn about their career progression, what got them where they are today, and what advice they have for you. Through these meetings and time investment, you’ll be clued in to opportunity to pursue a path that is exciting and worthwhile to you. A common side effect? This network will learn of your interest in growing your career, and likely keep you on their radar should they hear of openings you may be qualified for.

How did you decide it was time to leave a job?

Next week, we’ll take a look at what it’s like to transition from peer to leader. Feeling the challenge and pressure? It’s all part of the journey.

– Jackie Simon

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