A friend of mine is contemplating whether she should start looking for a different job. She wonders if now is the right time to move on? She is second guessing herself about whether her uneasiness is real, valid, or perhaps premature.
This is a tough decision, particularly if you have a family to support and a need for security. But here's the thing:
1. We all have bad days and maybe even a day week. Perhaps a bad month. But when you are feeling uninspired and unengaged for a period of time, your mind and heart have already decided. It is just up to you to recognize this and act on it.
2. Acting on your need for a change might mean taking another job within your current company or seeking a position with another company. In my friend's case, she has nowhere to go internally, so she will begin her search for a job with another company.
3. It is important to differentiate the need to move on from a false view that the grass is greener somewhere else.
Need to move on:
- You do not feel like you are growing.
- You do not see that this will change in the near future.
- You do not feel that you work is challenging.
- You have interests that cannot be explored with your current work.
- You want to make a career change.
Grass is greener:
- If you leave, you would seek the same job at a different company.
- Your complaints and frustrations are pretty common. You have felt the same way at other companies.
- You are drawn to an idealistic picture of a different company. If your desire to move is more about the company than the work, I would urge caution.
- You have been in your position less than two years.
My friend has been at her job several years, she is no longer learning or growing, and there are no major projects or initiatives that excite her coming down the pike. It is time for her to move on.
If you have a an OK (albeit unfulfilling) job and you have determined that it is time to move on, you owe it to yourself to be picky and completely honest. When we NEED a particular job we might fail to scrutinize the company and the position. We focus on getting an offer and are thrilled to accept it. But when you are proactively moving on, you need to ensure that you are looking out for your interests and needs.
- What are you really looking for? What kind of work flips your trigger? Do you want to manage programs or people or both?
- What kind of organization would you most enjoy? Do you like big and competitive companies or smaller and more laid back companies?
- What kind of boss best suits your style?
Ask yourself the questions that will help you narrow your search. Clarify in your mind why it is time for you to move on and be at peace with your decision.
One more thing. We have all heard of short-timers, right? That's what happens when we give notice or are actively looking for a job. Our brain suffers from premature disengagement. Our heads are only half in the game. You can't help it, you will experience some short-timers. A technique I have used that has helped has been to resolve to leave my job in the best and most classy way possible. Get focused on tieing up loose ends and leaving the department in better shape than when you inherited it. This is stuff you should be doing anyway.
At one job, I told my manager, the VP of HR, that I was going to begin looking for another job so that he could begin looking for my replacement. I knew that it would take longer than two weeks to find someone and wanted to help the company train the new person. I know this approach carries risk, but I had a very open relationship and it ended up working out beautifully. I was upfront about the interviews I was taking and kept him abreast of my job search the whole way. What a relief it was not to have to sneak around and request vacation days to interview! I don't recommend that for everyone, it is just a thought. The added bonus to this approach is that once I decided it was time to move on, sharing this with my then manager cemented the decision - no going back! This is good, because we often compromise and settle for what's comfortable and safe (ironically, it is often less comfortable and more risky to stay).
How do you know when it is time to move on?
I have been working for myself, part-time or full-time, for some time now and have thought about whether I would ever want another full-time position. The answer is, it depends. I have resolved to ONLY consider positions that are amazing and that would seriously flip my trigger. It is not so much about money (but money is good), as it is about challenge. I am so at peace with this decision, too. There might be a few ups and downs and maybe even some lean times every now and then. I would much rather endure this than consider a job that does not thrill me.