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Leaving Your Job: How Do You Know When It Is Time to Look for a New Position?

Leaving Your Job: How Do You Know When It Is Time to Look for a New Position?

Learn more about management degrees at American Public University.

By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

A job is like a relationship. There are good times and bad times.

As you weigh the pros and cons of leaving your job, you will “know” when it is time to go. You will feel it in your heart and the decision will not be emotional.

Your decision will be based on when you believe it is time to make a change by stepping out and starting a new journey. However, if you are worried that you will not find your way, stay where you are until you can at least take a step into a new direction.

Why Do Employees Want to Leave Their Current Jobs?

Each year, many employees plan to find new jobs. For instance, a recent survey published in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper found:

  • Two in three workers are planning on leaving their current position in 2018.
  • Only 12% stated they enjoyed their job.
  • 68% of the 5,000 polled had not received a raise or promotion in the past year.
  • 54% of the participants can’t wait to leave when the day is over.

The majority of those employees who wanted to quit said they were looking to move to another firm in the same sector, get a promotion in the same company or look for an entirely different job.

Given the findings from this study, the decision whether to go or stay should be a no-brainer. However, you should make your decision based on where you see yourself at this junction in your life. Instead of focusing on the negative, strive to get to a point where you can ask yourself some questions.

Forbes writer Adunola Adeshola has identified three questions you should ask yourself if you are thinking about leaving your job:

  1. Have I stayed at this company long enough to make an impact?
  2. Is there still room for me to grow at this company?
  3. Do this company and position still align with the career goals I have for myself?

These three questions are an objective, unemotional way of assessing your situation before making such a significant decision. If you have exhausted all avenues within your control and still find no growth, it may be time to move.

Adunola poses some good initial questions, but other questions could be:

  1. Am I in a position to make any impact/positive contributions to the organization? Is the ability to do so important to me?
  2. Has my career been derailed at this organization or is there still an opportunity for growth?
  3. Am I content by looking at my current employment situation as a steady paycheck? Is that enough to make me satisfied for the short term or long term?

What Will Happen if I Decide to Leave for a New Position?

If you choose to leave your job, leave gracefully and on good terms. You never know when you will have to reach back to move forward. In other words, try not to burn any bridges.

Some companies and coworkers take it personally when you leave for a new position. You can respond to those individuals with a statement such as, “After careful consideration, I realized that this might be the perfect time for me to branch out and explore some new initiatives.” Go out on a high note.

What Do You Do When You Realize Your New Job Is Not for You?

Two-thirds of employees who have taken a job realize later that it was a bad fit. Half of them quit within six months, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey of 3,697 U.S. employees. Some people realize the bad fit on their first day, and some recognize it within the probationary first 90-day period.

First, don’t panic. Go through the same process as you did when you left your previous employer. Ask yourself the same questions. Make sure the decision you make is an objective, factual analysis versus a hasty decision built on emotions.

Again, go out on a positive note if you decide to leave. Admit that you made a mistake and that you don’t believe the job was a good fit for you. Be sure to notify your organization before it invests additional time and resources in your employment.

How to Evaluate When a Job Isn’t Working Out for You

Writer Jen Hubley Luckwaldt describes seven steps you can take when you find yourself in the awkward situation of admitting that a job isn’t suitable for you.

  1. Figure out whether the job is the problem. Is it the job, the culture, the co-workers or the supervisor?
  2. Identify the core issues. Develop a list of pros and cons, then assign values assessing the level of discontent each point evokes in you. Do you have more items on the “con” side? Are some of the issues non-negotiable for you?
  3. Look for silver linings. Can you find any redeeming qualities about the job and the organization? Are there any reasons why staying would be a good idea? Would you consider any other positions in the organization? If so, can you hold out until you are eligible for them?
  4. Keep your resume up to date. As soon as you receive and accept an offer for a new position, update your resume with the information before you forget.
  5. Network, network, network. Don’t stop connecting to your network, even after you receive a job offer for a new position. You may need them sooner than you think.
  6. Don’t be afraid to move backward. Did you jump from the frying pan into the fire? Are you open to going back to your old job? If not, are you prepared to take a new position that may not be what you are looking for, but offers you a way out of your current situation?
  7. When you move on, make this job disappear. Does the new position add value to your career aspirations? Are you leaving after a short period? Would it be best to explain a gap versus putting a bad experience on your resume?

Remember, there is a way out if you decide you must leave. Just leave gracefully and consider the experience a learning one.

Learn more about management degrees at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.