How You Know When You Need a (Job) Change

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Friday 15th October 2010
In this article
  • The signs you may be due for a job change.
  • Pinpointing the problem.
  • Getting started on your new path.

"A change would do you good."

Is Sheryl Crow singing to you?

A job change may be the exact thing you need in your career. The key word here is "may." And the steps to determining whether a change is what you need follows in this SharpWork feature:

Seeing the Signs

With some SharpMen, it’s obvious: Do you head home at the first remote sign of a cold — a little sniffle or sneeze? Or worse, do you head home at the first sign that your cubicle neighbor might give you a cold when he sneezes and you think, just maybe, one of his microscopic germs traveled over the eight-foot cubicle wall and exposed you? When you see a commercial for migraine medication, do you long to get one (a migraine, not the medicine) so you would have a great excuse for missing a day or two of work? While these are pretty obvious signs you are looking for any excuse to leave work, you may want to look a little deeper.

Evaluate how you spend your time. Look at your e-mail outbox and compare the number of personal versus business e-mails you send each day. Glance at your phone. Is it close to noon and you still have it forwarded to voice mail? Now look around at your coworkers. How many of them have nicknames that only you know about - like Eeyore - that you spent a considerable amount of time coming up with?

Take the following quiz. If you answer yes to three or more of these questions, you may be facing job burnout and are due for a change:

  • Do you start dreading Monday when you wake up Sunday morning?
  • Are you tired all the time (except on the weekend)?
  • Are you angry and/or irritable often?
  • Do you watch the clock at least once an hour while at work?
  • Are you bored?
  • Do you envy people who appear to (or say that they) enjoy their jobs?
  • Do you make less of an effort to do your best at work?

Defining Your Condition

Job burnout happens to everyone at least once in a career. The key is either working through it or recognizing that you won’t be able to, and that a change is your only real option.

Your first step to job "recovery" is pinpointing the signs and causes. What has changed about you and your job? If something has changed, can you adjust to those changes over time, or is the "new you" or new realities of the job such that you cannot see yourself ever being really happy there again?

For example? Changes such as longer hours that prevent you from being with friends and family (including prior social or family engagements) or a change in the requirements of your job without your input or adjustment of compensation for additional work are things you may not be able to work through or change. If this describes your situation, your unhappiness is understandable; and it is only logical that you should move on to something that works better for you.

Similarly, if you have come to the conclusion that you are in a completely wrong line of work or that your present position will never allow you to reach your larger career goals, then a change would do you good.

Making a Change

Because everyone is motivated differently, there are two options you want to consider when looking to make a move.

First, begin your new job search before quitting your current job. Every SharpMan knows this, yet a surprising number lose sight of this strategy when job frustration builds. Why keep your old, confidence-eroding job as you search? Prospective employers prefer to see a candidate who is currently employed, and the fact that you have a "bird in the hand" (however little you value your current bird) will give you additional confidence (i.e., you won’t smell quite as desperate throughout your interview process). Beyond that are financial concerns. Many SharpMen can’t afford to throw in the towel and spend a couple of months looking for a job without any money coming in. It may also be safer to keep your current job while looking for a new one because you never know how long the job hunt will last.

A second, much less safe option is to force yourself into emergency mode. This is ideal for those SharpMen prone to talking about a job change and never actually taking the steps to make it happen. Simply walk into your boss’s office and give your two weeks notice. By leaving your current job before you have found a new one, you will be forced to find a job as soon as possible. This may be the motivation you need to really make a change. The downfall may be that you get so desperate to find a new job, you accept an offer that may not be better than the job you just left.

Getting Started

To get on the road to finding a new job, start looking through the want ads in your local newspaper every Sunday. Also register at several of the job search sites on the Internet. These are great because they let you search for jobs all over the country, and many sites will allow you to specify the type of job you are looking for and will e-mail you when they post new positions that meet your requirements.

Monster.com allows you to set up a free account for posting your resume and applying for jobs directly from the Web site. It also lets you search for jobs on your own, which is a great feature if you want to see what may be out there in careers that have piqued your interest but which you may not have really considered in the past.

Flipdog.com is another job search site that provides many of the same services. It also offers a resource center with links to information on everything from compensation to an employer search.

With all online job search services, you and all other registered users are competing with time. Visit sites early and often. Notice when new job descriptions are posted. Respond as quickly as possible. If the company is close by, hand deliver your resume on the day of the posting. Be aggressive. On the other hand, follow the directions specified by the ad. If they’d like your resume in the body of the e-mail, don’t send it as an attachment — you’ll get trashed without so much as a glance.

Another option is going directly to any companies in which you are interested. A lot of companies post career opportunities on their Web sites. If not, you can search for their contact information and then call the company’s human resources department to inquire about current openings. No openings? Ask for an "informational interview" with the department you are interested in — a great way to meet the decision makers, impress them with your charms and put yourself at the head of the line in the event an opening does come up. Don’t forget the follow-up thank you letter to remind them of your name and interest.

Now you are on your way to finding a new job. Remember, you spend about a third of your life working, so why not make those eight to ten hours a day more enjoyable? You don’t have to envy those people who love their jobs.

This article last updated on Friday 15th October 2010
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