Is it time for you to find a new job? If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is probably yes.
When it comes to our careers, there are some jobs that you should keep until retirement and some that you should leave immediately.
Determining your place on this scale can be difficult, as most jobs fall somewhere between these two extremes. Every role will have pros and cons, as well as good and bad days.
To help you figure out if it is time for you to find a new job or stay where you are (at least for now), here are 10 warning signs to look for, as well as advice for what to do next.
Stress & Your Mental Health
Is your job making you sick, literally?
Do you experience anxiety every time you leave for work? Do you dread going to the office every day? Do you wish you could call in sick on a regular basis? Maybe you are regularly calling in sick already?
You probably find yourself complaining about your workload or the conditions you are expected to work under. At home, you complain about your coworkers and your boss constantly. You dream about the day you can finally leave this job.
You may be feeling depressed, anxious, moody or irritable, overwhelmed, lonely, or exhausted. These are all signs of stress. Stress can also manifest itself with frequent illnesses such as colds and other viruses.
There are many possible causes for feeling this way. You may feel overworked and under-appreciated. Or feel that the responsibilities you are given are impossible to achieve.
If you are feeling these symptoms, you need to determine the cause of your stress.
Depression and anxiety are medical conditions that may need to be treated with medication or lifestyle changes, so please, talk to your doctor. Speaking with a mental health professional can also help you figure out what’s causing your stress or mental health issues, find coping mechanisms, and suggest ways to manage your stress.
Unfortunately, work-related stress is very common. If your job is the source of your stress, have you talked to your manager about what’s going on? They may not realize what you’re feeling or that they are expecting too much from you.
Have you tried taking time off from work? A chance to relax and escape the pressures from your job might be just what you need. So take advantage of any paid time off (such as vacation days or personal days) that you have, and see if that changes how you feel about your job.
Does your employer offer any coverage for sick days or medical leaves? Are you eligible for supports through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the US or Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits in Canada? If so, you might consider taking a stress leave if things haven’t gotten any better for you. I took a 16-week stress leave from a toxic and abusive work environment back in 2013, and it might have saved my life.
If you don’t have any paid time off options available, taking some unpaid time off might make more sense than quitting your job. You won’t have any income for the days you’re not at work, but you do still have a job to go back to.
While these options for managing your stress should help, they aren’t always going to be enough. Some jobs are just not worth sacrificing your mental health over! If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, it’s time to look for work elsewhere.
Job Related Physical Illness
In addition to the negative mental health effects a job can cause, sometimes they can also cause physical pain.
Do you have constant back, leg, neck, or other persistent pain? Physical pain can result from lifting, pulling, standing, or sitting for long periods of time, staring at a screen, or any number of repetitive tasks.
Can this pain be stopped by altering what you do at work? Are there ways to make your workspace more ergonomic? Are there stretches or exercises that you should be doing?
If not, you need to look for a different job to avoid long-term health problems.
Resign or Be Fired
Are you not a good fit for the company or job? Is it too difficult, too complex, not in your skillset, or just not working out? Have you been called into the office to discuss your work more than once?
You may be nearing a “resign or be fired” situation.
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself in a position where you’re probably going to be fired, you need to decide what you’re going to do about it. If you don’t, the decision will be made for you.
Are you going to try to make things work? If so, check if there is additional training or new job skills that you could learn that would help you with your current job. Ask your manager what else you could be doing or if some of your challenging responsibilities can be reassigned.
But if you see no chance of improvement, start searching for a new job now. Ideally, you will successfully find something new and resign with your new job offer in hand before being fired. But if not, having your resume and cover letter ready and knowing what job opportunities are available will help you be better prepared for when you are let go.
No Promotion or Pay Increase
Are you in a dead-end job with no chance of a promotion or pay increase?
We all look forward to getting a raise, but sometimes there is no chance for it. You may have hit the limit for what the company will pay. Your skillset may not allow you to be promoted. Or there may not be any other open positions available.
If this is the case, it’s time to evaluate yourself.
Can you learn a new skill that would allow for a promotion, or are you really stuck at your current level? Do you need a pay increase to keep up with inflation, or do you simply want to make more money? (Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that!) Are you being impatient waiting for new opportunities to move up, or is there truly nowhere else for you to go?
If you decide it’s time to move on, pay careful attention to pay scales and promotion opportunities while searching for jobs. You don’t want to end up in another dead-end situation.
It’s impossible to agree with everything all the time, but what happens if you have different ethics than the company you work for or the people you work with?
Does your boss think it is acceptable to cheat the customers or lie to the employees? Does he manipulate the sales figures and data? Does she use company money to pay for personal expenses? Are you being asked to commit fraud at work? (That happened to me!)
If actions like these are occurring, you have two options. You can talk to upper management to try to fix things, or you can leave the job.
Sometimes, the lack of ethics reaches the highest levels of the company, and upper management is the problem. In cases like these, you will never fix the ethical problems, so don’t waste your time or energy. Just move on.
Never-Ending Work Week
Is there always more work to do? Do you spend your time at home still working? Is your boss calling or emailing you to discuss work outside of your regular working hours?
When the 40-hour workweek stretches to 50 or even 60 hours, it can cause stress and burn-out. You no longer have time for leisure activities or time to spend with your family and friends. You are always working and can never fully relax.
If this is happening to you, have you tried saying “no” at work? Or setting clear boundaries between your work and personal life? Doing so might be enough to stop others from taking advantage of you and your time.
You should also check your contract, union agreement (if you have one), and the labor laws in your state or province. There may be strict rules around the number of hours you can work and documentation to back you up.
If these suggestions don’t work out, focus your job search on companies that will respect your time.
Are you spending as much time going to and from work as you spend at work? Is the cost of your commute cutting too deeply into your paycheck?
When you were first hired on, maybe your enthusiasm for the job made the commute worthwhile. Or you have since moved further away from where you work, lost your regular transportation, or the traffic between your workplace and home has become busier. Whatever the reason, it seems like you spend all your time traveling.
Do not undervalue your time. A lengthy commute cuts into the limited amount of time you have to spend on the other things in your life. The extra costs for gas and maintenance can also significantly cut into your paycheck.
If you work for a company that has multiple locations, asking to transfer to a location closer to you is an easy possible solution.
As we’ve seen, many of us can still do our jobs just as well from home. So if the commute is the problem, ask your current employer if working remotely is an option. Even one day a week without a commute can make a positive impact.
But if these aren’t possible, you may want to start searching job sites for something closer to home or for remote jobs that have no commute at all.
Do you dream of doing something new? Is your current job too boring and routine? Do you lack the enthusiasm that you once had?
Over time, interests can change. That dream job from your youth may no longer be dreamy at all. So if you are feeling stuck in your career, it may be time to evaluate your interests.
Is it possible to take on new responsibilities in your current role? Or change positions within the same company to pique your interest? Can you start a new hobby or side hustle to alleviate your boredom? If so, this may be the way to go.
Otherwise, it could be time to look into making a career change.
Has the company recently changed its direction? Is your job becoming obsolete? Are they looking for ways to save money? Are you struggling to keep up with the new technology?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should evaluate your current position within the company. These signs may point to your job being next on the chopping block.
Is there a way to make yourself a more valuable employee? Can you upgrade your skills to keep up with the changes occurring in your field? Is there a problem you can solve that makes your boss’s job easier? Or a way to make the company more money? If so, don’t be afraid to demonstrate what you bring to the company.
If you see no way to avoid being laid off, don’t wait! Start looking for new job opportunities somewhere else right away.
Has the current administration or leadership at your company had a recent overhaul? Do you find yourself with a new boss and new coworkers that are harder to work with? Are new duties or changing projects becoming more difficult?
Job turnover is an issue all companies face, but sometimes new leaders and coworkers simply don’t fit your work style.
Give yourself some time to adjust. Try to work with your new manager, new coworkers, and new projects before quitting. You might find a way to connect with your new colleagues or adapt to the changes.
If you can’t make it work, look for a new job that better suits your style.
What To Do Before You Quit Your Job
As tempting as it may be, deciding that it’s time to find a new job doesn’t mean you should immediately quit your current job.
Being unemployed is a big deal! Please don’t make the decision lightly!
You have to take your situation seriously and prepare as best you can. You never know how long you will be out of work if you quit before getting another job.
Check Your Finances
We go to work to make money. So if you are lucky enough to be in a position where you can go a few months without earning an income, quitting your job before finding a new one might be feasible.
If you have a generous saving account, do the math. How many paychecks can your savings account replace? One month’s worth? Six months? Because that matters.
Finding a job can take months under normal circumstances. Finding a job during a pandemic can take much longer.
Perhaps your partner or other family member makes enough money to support you. If that’s the case, you need to talk to them and make this decision together. Expecting your spouse or parent to pay for your needs is not fair. Forcing them to support you by quitting your job is worse.
Start Job Searching
As mentioned, if you’re wondering if it’s time to find a new job or not, the answer is most likely yes. How urgently you need to find a new job is really what it comes down to.
You might be in the early stages, wondering what’s next on your career path. Or you might be at your breaking point and need to get out right away for your own well-being.
Regardless of your timeline, here’s what to do next.
Do Your Research
Research the job market in your area and decide where your interests lie. Visit online job boards to see who’s hiring and sign up for job alerts so that new job postings are sent to your inbox.
Start following the companies that interest you on social media, and be sure to visit the career page on the company website.
Make a list of job openings you might enjoy, then research the requirements and skills needed for them. Do you have the qualifications and necessary skills? What are you lacking? Are there schools or programs accessible to you where you can learn these skills? Or opportunities to gain relevant experience?
Remember Why You Want to Quit
While researching, don’t forget or overlook why you want to quit. You want to find a job that will be an improvement over the one you have now, not one with the same issues.
Will these job possibilities fulfill your needs? Make a list of pros and cons for each new position you’re considering to verify that the new job won’t cause more problems than it solves.
Update Your Resume
You will need to have your resume ready if you want to find a new job, so updating it should be a priority.
Add any new skills and experiences you have acquired that will make you more marketable. Update your contact information and work or personal references. Tailor your resume to the job you are seeking instead of the one you currently hold. Make sure your resume passes the 6-second glance test.
While you’re at it, update your LinkedIn profile, too. You never know what potential employers might be visiting it.
Prepare for a Change
Transitioning into your next job can be exciting, but it’s also stressful. If you are leaving a job because of stress or mental health, it’s important that you take the time to prepare.
Once I made the mistake of leaving one job on Tuesday and starting a new job on Wednesday. This was not a smart decision because I didn’t give myself any time to process the changes. I brought all the stress and anxiety from the first job with me into the new one. I should have given myself at least a day or two off to decompress and unwind.
Whether your reasons for leaving your current job are serious problems or just inconveniences, identifying the issue will help you decide what needs to change. When you are ready to find a new job, plan ahead. Following these steps will make your transition to your new (and better) job a smooth and enjoyable process.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.