Are you getting an itch to switch (jobs)?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.  
  10.  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)


9 thoughts on “Are you getting an itch to switch (jobs)?

  1. These were great tips to know when you should make a change, however you forgot..DON’T WANT TO GET OUT OF BED or chronically late for work. LOL
    Oh, how I DON’T miss corporate America! I get up when I wake up now. LOL I’m still a morning person, but I am much happier now to walk over to my home office instead of dealing with morning commute to a job that doesn’t fulfill my soul and purpose. Great article Silvana!!

  2. Silvana – SO GEN Y!!! What are your tips for we Gen X’s and the baby boomers?

  3. I knew it was time to leave a job when I was walking to work and about to cross a road, I thought that if I got hit by a car and went to hospital then I wouldn’t have to go to work.

  4. Speaking of switching jobs, how about some tips for getting jobs? Say, in an industry that you have no experience in whatsoever. I am finishing uni end of this year but I have very little (by that I mean VERY little) industry experience. What are the things I must do for myself to improve my competitiveness in the job marke? Obviously an impeccable academic transcript is a bit too late!

  5. Hi Yen,

    Congratulations…you’re done with your degree…that’s great!

    And now REALITY..(which does not have to bite!)

    In my mind what will give you an edge in the job market is not so much what you have done and haven’t. I’ve gotten jobs where I didn’t know much about what product I’d be selling – let alone about the industry. And I most certainly did not have the experience (but that’s a whole ‘nother post).

    What landed me those jobs was my approach to the situation. So what I suggest you do is, if you haven’t already, to start seeing your career as a business and running it as such. That will differentiate you among the cog-employees who turn up to work to do as little as possible.

    So, here’s my personal formula (my secret – which you can read about over at and in my upcoming book):

    1. As an employee, you must never believe that you work FOR someone – you always work WITH someone – as a partner who has the potential to add value.

    2. You must be well aware, through self-assessing yourself, what rewards motivate you about work and what you bring to the table in terms of your personality, your values, interests, skills and strengths. In my post: “I’m not sure that I’m self-assured” you can read about the assessments that I’ve used to develop a snap-shot of my key assets.

    3. You must arrive at interviews with goals and an agenda of your own in mind. If you don’t, you run the risk of being at the mercy of someone else’s agenda and vision. I personally take the question:”what’s your plan for the next 5 years” quite seriously. For the past 10 years I’ve been planning my career in 5-year chunks. In my upcoming book you’ll find the templates that I’ve used to do this.

    4. You must have a formula for delivering high quality results on an ongoing basis – and you must have ways to brag about it to an interviewer. Think about the systems and processes that support your day to day work. For example, do you have a time management ritual that you follow? How do you organize your work-station (cubicle or office)? How do you prepare for meetings? Those are the sort of things that allow you to get things done without having to re-invent the wheel.

    5. Have strategies for changing those behaviors that get in the way of your goals. In my book you’ll learn about techniques based on Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Positive Psychology which will a. make you aware of self-sabotaging behaviors and b. empower you to change them.

    Yen, I hope this has been of help to you -if you’d like for me to elaborate more, please feel free to contact me directly:

    Best of luck with your job hunt…keep me posted!

    go gettem’

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  7. When I’m unhappy with myjob I start eating more, especially during the work hours. When my desk could as well be the fridge I start asking myself what’s wrong.

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