Just a little over half of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, according to a 2018 survey conducted by The Conference Board. So if you’re part of that large minority of U.S. workers who are unhappy with their careers, it might be time for you to find a new one.
Although a lack of overall job satisfaction is a good indicator that it’s time to start the job search, other warning signs might not be as obvious. GOBankingRates spoke with career experts to find out the signs that it’s time for a job change — and some might surprise you.
You're Not Being Recognized For Your Strengths
“A key sign that you need a new job is when you are not being recognized and valued for your unique strengths, talents, passions and virtues,” said Sarah McVanel, a speaker, coach and founder of Greatness Magnified. “At the extreme, it’s when you are being criticized or unsupported.”
If this is the case, you’re best off leaving your job for another employer that values you, or you could even start working for yourself. To mitigate feeling down about the lack of recognition at your current job during your search for a new one, McVanel said you should, “showcase your greatness by serving others.”
“Write LinkedIn posts, do live videos, contribute as a guest blogger or podcaster or do some freelance work. Showcase your talents and expertise, both to those who will hire you and to remind yourself of your value,” she said.
You're Jealous of Friends and Peers Who Have Changed Jobs
“If an individual admires the moves their peers, friends or former classmates are making in the marketplace, that can motivate someone to seek change,” said Mark Anthony Dyson, career consultant and founder of the blog The Voice of Job Seekers. “We’re naturally competitive with people we know, and we want to keep up.”
This jealousy can actually be useful as you search for new jobs.
“The future of job search is not to disengage from the job market trends, but to stay abreast so when it’s time to change, you have already imagined your strategy,” said Dyson. “While watching your network, you’ll hear things from others like ‘brand-building,’ learning the latest technology, and how these new skills are advancing their careers and increasing their salaries.”
You Feel a Sense of Dread on Sunday Nights
Many people are prone to the “Sunday night blues,” but if you find that you’re regularly dreading the start of the workweek, it might be a sign you should start looking for a new job.
On Sunday evenings, you should experience, “pleasant anticipation of a productive week ahead,” said Lynda Spiegel, a job search coach and founder of Rising Star Resumes. “Don’t aim for a constant state of bliss — it’s not realistic. But when you find a job where you feel valued for your contribution, you’ll be satisfied.”
You've Stopped Caring About Your Job Performance
“If you’ve hit the point of not caring when you miss promotions, or aren’t asked on the important business trip, or realize you overslept and missed the boss’s big meeting, it’s time for you to pack up your bags,” said success strategist Carlota Zimmerman. “If you don’t care, why are you there? How can you possibly do any good work if you don’t care? And if you don’t care, why should your colleagues care about you?”
Zimmerman advised searching for a new job that excites you.
“Find a job that actually engages your intellect, where you want to be part of the team,” she said. “It’s incredibly dispiriting to spend eight to 10 hours a day in a situation, not giving a damn. It’s tedious as hell. On the other hand, it’s incredibly liberating to go home and think, ‘What I do matters.'”
Your Manager Is Holding You Back From Moving Up the Career Ladder
If your manager is knowingly or unknowingly preventing you from advancing in your career, that could be a sign you should start looking for a new job where there’s room to grow, said Jo Miller, a women’s leadership coach and CEO of Be Leaderly.
If your boss or manager won’t let you take on new responsibilities or challenges, despite showing that you’re competently completing everything that’s been asked of you; won’t let you speak directly to your skip-level manager or to stakeholders or customers you need to work with to be effective in your role; or won’t sign off on a request for training or help you find another leader to be your mentor, it’s likely you’re being held back from advancing at your workplace. But before you jump ship, talk to your boss or manager about your desire to grow in your role.
“If your boss doesn’t seem invested in your development, it’s important to ask them for feedback,” said Miller. “If none is forthcoming, no matter how much you might enjoy your role or your company, it’s time to find a new boss — even if that means finding a new job. By leaving a bad boss for a true leader, you’ll ultimately find a much more fulfilling career.”
You've Stopped Feeling Challenged
If you haven’t done anything particularly challenging on the job in six months or more, it’s time to look for a new one, said Nicole Coustier, career coach and founder of Aurelian Coaching.
“Being challenged in your job means that you are using problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and these are important for brain plasticity and personal growth or development,” she said. “Being able to find solutions to challenging issues on the job can promote feelings of self-worth and contribution, as well as build confidence. If you are not being challenged, you are not growing, and this may result in feeling stagnated.”
Getting a new job can alleviate this feeling of stagnation.
“Putting yourself in an entirely new environment or job condition will require use of problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which might feel uncomfortable or scary at first, but can really have upsides if you power through it,” said Coustier. “These skills may be put to the test when first navigating new policies and requirements … and even perhaps negotiating politics and flexing emotional intelligence skills in ways you haven’t had to before.”
You Feel Completely Burned Out
Burnout can be the result of feeling extreme work stress and pressure. In the 2019 International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization classified burnout as a work-related “syndrome … resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” According to the handbook, someone who has energy depletion, exhaustion, increased mental distance and feelings of negativity toward one’s job may be experiencing work-place burnout.
“If you are constantly burned out, that is a huge sign that you might want to start looking for a [new] job,” said Chris Roane, creator of Money Stir. “But unless you are in a horrendous situation, your best option is to find a new job while maintaining your current position … That also gives you the opportunity to find the best match and not settle for something that ends up being worse than what you have now.”
If you’re experiencing burnout, make sure to reach out to those closest to you about what you’re feeling. Also, explore being more social with your co-workers. It could help buffer your workplace burnout.
You Hate When People Ask What You Do For Work
If you’re wondering when to change jobs, think about how you feel when people ask, “What do you do for work?”
“You spend literally a third of your life at your job — anything you devote that much time to should be worth talking about,” said former career happiness consultant Alice Hoekstra. “If you feel shy or embarrassed talking about your work, it means you’re in the wrong position. Maybe you’re not passionate about your work; maybe it doesn’t fit the image of where you’d like to be headed in your career; maybe you just don’t like your job and don’t want to talk about it. Whether or not you can pin down the reason why you don’t like talking about work, you need to take ‘I don’t want to talk about my job with others’ as a red flag.”
You Have Negative Daydreams
A good reason to leave a job is if it negatively affects your imagination. According to Psychology Today, “daydreams, mind wanderings and fantasies have a powerful effect on our physical and psychological health” if not dealt with properly.
“I [recently] interviewed a job candidate who shared with me that one day on his lunch break, he went out to get a sandwich from a restaurant across the street from his office. As he stepped into the road, he imagined himself facing oncoming traffic, holding up a cardboard sign that read, ‘Please run over me so I can skip work this afternoon,'” said Ellen Mullarkey, vice president of business development at Messina Group Staffing. “Fortunately, the job candidate picked up his lunch and went back to his office safely. The lesson here is that when you dislike your job so much that the thought of something terrible happening to you means you get to skip work that day, it’s time to get another job — fast.”
Worry and self-harm-based visions on a regular basis can be a telltale sign that your job is plaguing your identity and work ethic.
You're Having Petty Fights With Your Roommate or Significant Other
This behavior might not seem work-related, but feeling irritable could be a direct result of workplace stress.
“Stress at work tends to find its way into every other area of our lives,” said Hoekstra. “If your stress at work has started causing you to be short-tempered at home, it’s time for a change. After all: The most important things in life aren’t things — they’re people.”
You Witness Co-Workers and Managers Arguing
If you witness combative behavior regularly, that could be a sign that your work environment is a loose cannon ready to explode. You may not be on the receiving end of workplace arguments, but being a witness to it will affect you greatly. Working in a toxic environment that causes stress can truly hurt your health, and having a bad boss can even create a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if it’s not addressed immediately.
“If you see other colleagues and/or managers getting personal with their attacks by talking about the other individual’s appearance, girlfriend/wife, hobbies, etc., then it’s clear the company does not have a healthy working environment,” said Matthew Ross, co-founder and COO of The Slumber Yard.
Prolonged exposure to the stressors of combative behavior and bullying in the workplace can cause stress-related health complications, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. Make sure to set boundaries and stick to them. Gossiping and sharing personal, emotional input will only engage you in the workplace toxicity. Be courteous and steer clear of it while devising an exit plan.
Most of Your Superiors Were External Hires
“If you’re wondering whether your company provides growth opportunity after a year or two of feeling stuck, look around: Has anyone else been promoted in your company, or does your company simply hire new managers when current managers leave?” said Hoekstra. “If many of your superiors were outside hires, consider looking for a new job at a company with more mobility.”
Your Company Is No Longer Profitable
If your company is suffering financially, chances are you will too.
“If the company isn’t able to pay its bills on time, it’s likely it will eventually impact their ability to pay their employees in the future,” said career success coach Michelle Gomez.
It can also mean a tightening of resources, which can increase your workload. “If the company eliminates resources — such as software, hardware, e-commerce resources or employees — but still expects tasks to be done on time and with accuracy, that is a clear indicator of a stressful environment in the making,” she said.
A company in financial turmoil will also likely begin downsizing. “If people are being dismissed from their jobs due to downsizing, it’s likely you will be on the chopping block eventually,” said Gomez.
In these scenarios, it’s best to leave on your own terms.
Before You Quit, Make Sure To Evaluate Your Role
“During the hiring process, organizations often over-promise and under-deliver; and, on occasion, their selection methods simply go awry and new-hires turn out to be poor fits for the organization’s manpower requirements or its internal culture. Under either of those circumstances, some employees may have limited potential in a particular organization — or the specific department into which they’ve been assigned,” said retired management and human resources professor Timothy Wiedman.
Even if quitting your job seems more appealing than staying, there are a few questions that should be asked before jumping the gun and submitting your two-week notice.
- Have I been at this job for enough time to evaluate its true long-term potential?
- Have I discussed my career path and future opportunities with my boss?
- Do I need more training to be successful in this occupation; and if so, how can I get that training?
- Given my current education, certifications, work experience, aptitude and skills, will I really have better prospects elsewhere?
“By honestly answering these questions, folks can better evaluate whether quitting is the right step to take at this juncture,” he said.
If Quitting Still Makes Sense, Find a New Job ASAP
Set a Date for Your Departure To Make Things Easier
Making the final decision to leave your job is like setting a goal. You want to definitely stick to it. Whether you decide on changing careers completely or moving on to a different company, having a set date or time period to leave your current job will help you overcome any stress-induced thoughts.
“A good coping strategy when you’re ready to walk out the door is to set a date for your resignation, and a date for your last day on the job. Knowing you’ve designated a time to go often takes away some of the stress, so you can remain on the job until the time is right,” said Joe Flanagan, a senior career advisor at MintResume.
Creating deadlines for your departure will build stepping-stones to a happier work life and a road toward a new career opportunity.
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About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.