I have had 4 jobs in the last 18 months. Some I left by choice and others not by choice. Now I'm lucky to be in a place I enjoy working, though that hasn't always been the case, plus I have many friends who complain about their jobs. From past experience, I know we often times feel crippled by our jobs but stay there because we feel comfortable and secure with what we know. The old saying goes that it's best to look for a job while you have a job. Having been the victim of the massive layoffs in 2009 due to the economic downturn, I can attest to that. I can also attest to the fact that you're never as prepared as you think you are to enter the job market. After securing 3 jobs in a down economy, I started to think I may have a couple of things figured out about it, probably foremost when it's time to get out of a bad situation. Following are the top five indicators I've found that it is time for you to change jobs.
There's bad chemistry. I've started to equate coupling individuals and companies like coupling people with one another. For those of you out there who have spent lots of time in the dating world, you know what I mean when I say that there's often bad chemistry between two people. You can often be two nice people who just don't click despite how much your personal resumes may align. The same concept goes for individuals joining companies. The company may appear to offer a certain set of things you desire, but in reality it's simply not a good fit. If you can have a long-term partner, you can have an enduring job fit that is fulfilling as well. It took a few jobs to find that mate, but now that I have a good corporate partner, I believe that concept to be truer than ever.
Bait and Switch. After going through the romancing of interviews with a company that sold me on how great they were, and then being faced with the harsh reality that they were, in fact, an internal disaster, made me realize I got the bait and switch on the job. I knew early on the job wasn't my home, and continued to look. Fortunately life took me away from that company in a very natural way and by choice.
The work isn't suited to you. I once landed a job at a small, wonderful company with good people and great rapport. The only problem was the work just wasn't for me. I have many skills, but my natural passions weren't being fed at this company, and I was growing ever more frustrated. I continued to look and was lucky to find another job and escape the long hour days in work that was purely tedious to me.
The corporate culture doesn't support your work/life balance needs. I've been faced with this in a couple of ways. 1) I worked for a manager once who didn't respect my need for a day off and actually denied my request. I had to go over his head to take the day off I sorely needed to spend time with a loved one and balance out a little. 2) I worked for a company that managed late hours on a regular basis so I was unable to meet my personal needs from the 5-bedtime time frame. I was crushed each time I had to cancel or miss something. Now I'm in a job where the corporate culture supports quitting at a reasonable hour by my standards. I know that time after work is mine and relish in that security and ability to separate work and life. It takes away a huge resentment factor.
You are becoming physically ill. I once worked at a company where my boss took a regular practice of yelling and cursing at me in front of the rest of the company. I started getting dizzy and had to go see a neurologist who had me go through seizure tests. This was a huge red flag, as I was already at risk for seizures due to my brain surgery years before. Since I wasn't having luck finding another position at the time, I applied to graduate school and hit the road. I took three months off to recover and heal and started school the next fall with a fresh perspective. That's a lesson I'll never forget.
Now I've landed at a place where I feel the chemistry is good so the company and I can have a long-standing relationship. My team is open and willing to communicate and work together. I'm allowed to leave at a time that fits my lifestyle, and the company as a whole rewards performance and respects employee's time outside of the office. I hope I'm there for a long time. It's my hope that with mutual effort that we can all find a workplace that feels comfortable and nurturing to us all.