When you should leave a job you don’t like? It’s something we all wonder at some point in our lives. We asked guest writer Lindsay Narey to give her thoughts on the issue. Over to you…
There’s much debate as to how long you should stay with any one employer, and how that might look on your CV. Too long and it might look like you lack ambition. Hop from job to job and there’s a danger of being viewed as flaky and unreliable. But, setting the perceptions of others aside, a few things scream that it’s time to get the hell out.
1. You’re no longer challenged
You could do the job blindfolded, standing on your head while being attacked by a swarm of angry wasps. An extreme example but you get the gist. You find your work easy, you’re working on auto-pilot and not learning anything new.
2. It feels like Groundhog Day
You can predict who’ll go for cheese, and who’ll prefer a sausage roll from the sandwich van. You know exactly what time your colleague will get a phone call from the wife about what’s for dinner. You can’t however seem to foresee the weekly fire alarm test, which has you jumping out of your skin without fail.
3. You’ve lost your spark
You joined the company positively bursting with enthusiasm, but the years have worn you down and you’ve taken the Crown of King/Queen of gossip by the photocopier, revelling in any bit of negative news.
4. You’re making excuses to stay.
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‘I might get a huge redundancy pay out if I hang around another month/year/lifetime’. ‘This job suits my phobia of not working more than a two mile radius from home’. ‘The flexible hours and holiday entitlement work so well with my personal commitments’. All of these may be true, but they’re also very convenient excuses to hang around. Ask yourself: when sat in your reclining chair at the old folks’ home, would you rather look back and say ‘oh well!’ or ‘what if?’ And do you want to take control, or be controlled?
If you’re nodding along or reluctantly admitting to one or more of the above it’s time to say farewell. But how to do this?
5. Take some risks
‘Leave my permanent, 33 days’ holiday, generously pensioned number for a temporary contract’ you say ‘Are you out of your mind?’
Making a leap from a safe and comfortable role to something uncertain may seem a dangerous prospect, but if you’re willing to take the risk, it might just lead to better things. Interim contracts allow you to get a flavour of a company, try something new and decide whether it’s right for you. Knowing a job is temporary often gives you a renewed drive, you only have a short time to make an impression and get the job done, so it’s in your interests do it well. If you like it and they like you, then you’re in prime position to snap up any permanent opps. If it’s not right, then wave goodbye at the end of the contract and move on!
6. Have a second life
Being stuck in a life-sapping job can be all-consuming. But never forget, YOU are not your job. Make sure you take some time to indulge in the things that make you feel alive – listening to music, blogging, running – whatever’s your thing. Hobbies can lead to new careers and investing in your outside interests on the side can pay dividends when you finally manage to escape.
7. Never stop learning
If your employer is willing to shell out for training and development, then appreciate this and milk it to its full advantage. Keep the future in mind and choose something that’ll look good on job applications and set you up for what’s ahead. If budget for training isn’t forthcoming, then there are plenty of other ways to develop and keep your skills fresh – webinars, reading industry blogs, or challenging yourself to master a new form of social media.
8. Shake it up!
If you’re fed up of going to the same desk in the same office every day, then take action. If your employer has more than one base then break the cycle, spend a day somewhere else and meet new people. It might sound basic but the slightest change to a monotonous routine can make a big difference to your mindset and open the door to fresh opportunities. Who knows, even walking to the kitchen a different way or visiting IRL a team you’ve only ever known through email could spark new ideas and give you some useful new contacts.
9. Know that IT’S NOT YOU!
Whatever your reasons for being unhappy at work, finding yourself in a negative environment day in, day out can give your confidence and self-belief a battering. It can be easy to start thinking the problem lies with you and start questioning and blaming your ability. The good news is, in most cases this simply isn’t true and it’s important to believe and hold on to this, and focus on your strengths. Challenging as this may be.
It might be difficult to believe when you’re in the thick of it, but the tough times in your career – the manager who never sets any objectives, the feeling of being stuck in a dead-end, the dearth of thank yous – actually toughen you up and arm you with priceless experience to take elsewhere. Good can emerge from bad and when you do get a job you love, you’ll appreciate it all the more.
Words: Lindsay Narey
Follow Lindsay on Twitter – @Linzeen and also check out her blog here.