In the past 10 years my all-time record for staying at a job is 18 months. My average stay is 14 months. And after switching jobs 12 times, I’ve learned to tell when it’s time for me to start planning my next move.
To enlighten you, here are my top 10 telling signs:
- I start to feel that it’s Groundhog Day at work. I’m well aware that it’s virtually impossible for every single day, let alone task at work to be new and challenging. Inevitably there are standard processes and procedures that need to be followed and cycles to be repeated. But when I start to feel the weight of the routine, and it seems that everything has been said and done, I know it’s time to open my eyes and ears for new opportunities.
- I take longer in the mornings to leave the house. Whenever I feel challenged at work, each morning I head out the door looking forward to accomplishing things at the office. But when I start extending the time that I take to get ready to go to work, usually by spending more time reading to give my brain the stimulation that it craves and is no longer getting at work, I know it’s time to actively explore other options in the market.
- I get annoyed by the small things. When a client’s request that seemed minor last week – a ‘no problem at all’, all of a sudden turns into a ‘you gotta be kidding me’ request, I know I need to look for my headhunter’s contact information.
- I spend more time on personal emails. My cardinal rule for personal emails is to take care of them at home, before or after work. So when my friends start to hear from me during the day on a week day, I know it’s time to research other jobs and companies.
- I stop volunteering for projects. Whenever I’m interested in learning something, I perceive new projects as a great opportunity to learn about my role and the industry. When taking on more work starts to feel like a drag, I know it’s time to tap into my network of ex-colleagues and friends to look for new opportunities.
- I start to wonder if what I’m doing really is for me. When I start to feel that there’s a clash between my values and my role and/or the industry I’m working in, I know I need to update my resume.
- I start to wonder if my job is contributing anything meaningful to the world. When I start to feel that I’ve been put on this earth to do something more meaningful than say promote prescription drugs or sell insurance, I know I need to contact my head-hunter.
- I start to look at the clock at 4:30pm and wish it would be 5pm. When I no longer willingly arrive early or stay late at work, I know it’s time to set up informational interviews.
- I start to question what the future holds for me at a company. When I start to feel that my role is the highest I could possible get within a company, I know it’s time to dry-clean my sharpest looking suit.
- I start to feel that staying at my current job presents an opportunity cost for my career. Just like when I’m in love, I do not think about anyone else because I’m sure that I’m with ‘the one’, whenever I’m challenged by my work, I don’t think of other jobs. But when I start to feel that I’m missing out on bigger and better opportunities by staying at my current job, I know it’s time to start thinking about what to say to my boss so that I can go to interviews during work hours.
How can you tell that it’s time to start planning your exit strategy? I’d love to know.
(in my next post I plan to share with you how I’ve left from 12 jobs – for the exception of 1 – on very friendly terms with my boss and colleagues)