Signs it Might be Time to Leave Your Job

January is a time of year where many think about self-improvement and career development as they stop and take stock of their lives and think about the year ahead.  As a long-time career coach, I’ve helped many clients as they consider their options and think about if it is time for them to make a move.  Here are some common signs and reasons people leave their job that I’ve heard from clients over the years:  

Stagnation: If you’ve had no growth in your role in the last year; no growth could be no change in your title but it could also look like no opportunities to learn new things or take on new responsibilities to groom you for future advancement.  Other types of stagnation could be that your company has no path for upward mobility or expansion/development of your role due to the size of the organization or because a manager wants to keep you in your current role for your convenience. 

Smart organizations and managers know that developing employees is important and invest time, effort, and resources to do so.  It is natural to want to get better at your work, learn new things, and to want to advance in some way in your career.  It’s okay to look for a role that allows you to do just that. 

Toxic Culture: Organizations that foster a lack of trust or create an environment that requires you to stay on alert can not only be detrimental to your career, but also to your health.  Undue stress at work rarely stays at work, radiating into our private lives as well.  Caring for yourself includes choosing environments where you have psychological safety both at home and at work. 

If you are in an environment where people fear retribution if they speak up, spend more time covering their back than looking ahead, or reward people despite negative or harmful behaviors – such as a high performing team member that makes coworkers miserable, but their negative interpersonal behaviors are excused because of their performance, it is perfectly normal to want to exit.  

 Toxic Manager: What does a toxic manager look like? It could be that they lead through fear, manipulation, communicate poorly, micromanage, or simply are ill-equipped or prepared to support their direct reports. Leaving a job because of a bad manager is one of the most common reasons.  In the case of an ineffective manager; if you’ve taken steps to proactively improve the situation by asking for the specific things you need from your manager and they continue to not provide you with what is necessary to do your job, it’s perfectly reasonable to escalate the situation to upper management or look for other options in or outside of the organization.  

If you are ever intimidated, berated, or made to feel unsafe, escalate the situation immediately with HR or upper management.  Always protect your safety first and foremost.  Companies should have a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, so don’t endure poor behavior.  I know many people (myself included) have tolerated poor and inappropriate behavior from colleagues and managers in the workplace because they feared making things worse.  But I can’t emphasize enough how taking care of your own safety and well-being needs to matter to you.  

 Sinking Ship: If the company you work for is on shaky ground (here are some handy signs to look for) either from poor leadership and management of company assets, poor forecasting, or lack of clarity on product differentiation, then it is understandable to start researching and applying to other opportunities, even while still actively trying to improve the status of the organization through giving feedback and making improvements. At one time or another, it’s likely that you’ll be at an organization when everything is going up and up and also be at one that is facing hard times.  It is important to think like a business in this situation and also look after your own financial well-being and career trajectory and get yourself into a better situation when it looks like the best option for you and your priorities. 

Rigidity: The type of inertia that can take hold in organizations both big and small can be a company-killer and career killer. Some businesses seem to change very little on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, in most organizations with any sort of longevity, you’ll find regular and important changes have happened to the structure, operations, products, processes, locations, and policies when needed to keep up with external and intrinsic factors. Change and flexibility are important to the ongoing chances of survival for an organization.  If they don’t change with the times or with what the marketplace demands, it is unlikely that a business will last. 

Companies that perform best are the ones that look ahead and anticipate future necessary changes and plan for them. If you find yourself in a company that is rigid and their default position is to do things how they’ve always been done, it’s okay to be suspicious of their chances for enduring success. If you work for a company that won’t change with the times your career can be hampered by being left out of using current technologies, work practices, or societal norms – all of which could keep you from getting or keeping future roles.

Friendlessness: This one might surprise you, but not having a friend where you work can be indicative of poor work satisfaction, better than many other markers.  When employers survey employee work satisfaction, they often ask if you have a friend or best friend at work.  It is thought that people don’t often bother deepening connections with those around them if they aren’t happy with their role or the organization.  Also, people are more likely to stay at an organization if they have a close friendship within it.  So, there is a cycle present with this one marker of worker happiness.   You don’t have to be friends with everyone at your company, but if you don’t have any friends at an organization, it is worth taking the time to consider why.

The choice to make a career change is commonly a complex decision. If you’d like to talk to someone about your career challenges, schedule a free introductory coaching session with me, I’m a certified Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC). I’d love to support you through any of your career concerns.

Falling in Love With Your Job

Maybe this has been a long and difficult year. Maybe your job wasn’t heading in the right direction before everything hit last year and the events of the year haven’t helped. Whatever the reason, do you find yourself dissatisfied with your work? Many people I’ve been talking to have decided to leave their current roles for these reasons and more, but the problem remains, how do you keep your head in the game and stay happy when you don’t have the next role lined up? On top of that, how do you stay positive when your job search might take a while to yield just the right opportunity? How do you find things to love, even when you know you are ready to move along – in short, how do you cope? Finding a few small ways to improve what you can control can make any situation more bearable in the short term. Here’s a list of things you might try to keep your mind and spirit healthy.

Remembering why you wanted the job to begin with. It is common for people I work with to somehow have lost contact with what they initially liked about their work. Maybe the job has gotten more complicated over time or they are doing less of what they were drawn to initially. If there is a way to keep what is fulfilling about the work more present in your mind throughout the day (who do you help, what do you create, what impact do you make), it may make the day more bearable. Keeping a photo or keepsake nearby that reminds you what you are working for can also help provide a positive visual cue on tough days.

Find ways to play to your strengths. You might not have control over what you do, but is there any flexibility for how you get things done? Finding ways you can do your work that play to your strengths can make your task a little lighter. Better still, is it possible for you to do more work that relies on your strengths and to do less of what drains you? Is there anyone around who is strong in an area you are not that you could share this responsibility with to get everyone working aligned in a way they work best? Speak with your management if you need to, but strive to make your job one that helps the company and employees – including you.

Improve your relationships. Are there people you are working with that are difficult for you to communicate with or see eye to eye? Clear the air any way you can and find common ground. Don’t tolerate hostility, but don’t generate it either. Work with a mediator if necessary, but try to find a way to move through any interpersonal conflict and get to a point where you can collaborate effectively even if you aren’t best friends. Being able to navigate choppy waters is a good story to tell in interviews and good practice. Make it a project. Give yourself bonus points and treats for making a difficult situation manageable. If the environment is truly toxic and others don’t meet you half-way, try not to make yourself hold up the weight of a bad professional relationship for long. Involve HR or management when necessary and take good care of your mental well-being.

Manage your stress. Find what helps you blow off steam and do it. Make a list of the activities that fill your tank; they could be hobbies, or exercise (even moderate is great!), talking to friends, petting a cat or dog, playing a board game with family – ANYTHING that takes your mind off of your troubles and gives you a chance to unwind, breathe, smile, laugh, and most importantly, relax. Meditation practices (there are some wonderful apps out there!) can help you capitalize on small breaks throughout the day and creating mental calm as well as help you ratchet down anxieties and stress at the end of your day. Pro tip: it can be hard to remember to do these activities and to slow down when you are used to running at a high gear for a long time. Schedule breaks and make intentional space for de-stressing at the start until you make relaxing a daily habit.

Talk to someone. Find someone you trust (friends and family) who you can reason things out with and get things off your mind when they are troubling you. If you find your problems are particularly worrisome, difficult, or chronic – reach out to a therapist or counselor to make some headway and find some peace. With the advent of so much tele-health and app-based therapy options, you can find a variety of ways to include therapy to help make life more manageable. Keep in mind if one therapist or type of therapy isn’t right for you, there are so many options out there, so keep trying until you find the option and support that works for you. Sharing can really take some of the weight and sting out of problems, so it is worth a try.

The Gift of Career Support

Show how much you care!

There are many ways to give the gift of career support. What can you do to give the gift of support for the job search or career development of the recent grad, advancing professional, or person you know who wants to make some sort of career change. Here is a list of gift ideas to help you give the gift of self-actualization and career fulfillment!

Gift Career Coaching or Resume Reviews

I get asked if it is okay to give career coaching or resume reviews as a gift. Of course! If you know a person wants to make a change or is struggling a bit with the job search, it’s a thoughtful way to help. However, if you aren’t sure that the other person is looking for another job or wanting to make a change in the future, it could be awkward – so make sure you know it is something they can use. When in doubt with all professional development gifts, it is okay to ask the recipient if they could use the gift or if they would appreciate it. It removes the surprise a bit, but is a great way to vet out the idea if you aren’t sure it is what they want.

Professional Association Memberships

Professional association dues can be pricey, especially for someone early in their career, which is often when involvement in the association can be so beneficial. These groups do a lot to develop professionals and advance the profession and provide excellent networking opportunities. This is an especially great gift for the recent grad. Much like the previous idea, you’ll want to discuss this with the recipient to make sure they want to get involved with a group and that it is for the group of which they would most like to be a part. It is important to note that for lots of professionals there are a wide variety of groups that would be beneficial, so if they are already part of one (which they are paid up for) ask the follow-up question if they have any additional associations they’ve been interested in joining as well?

Courses and/or Certifications

I won’t repeat the advice to ask on this one, but will mention that certification processes can be so expensive as sometimes it requires multiple types of fees; fees to join the certifying body as member, fees for coursework, and fees for the actual certification test or application process. If you know that someone is undergoing the process of becoming certified, ask if you can make a contribution to support them in that process. Chances are they would love a benefactor to join in on shouldering the weight of the investment and will be touched to have you support their advancement.

The best career development secret weapon; books.

Books on Professional Development

Last, but certainly not least, books are a wonderful gift idea. There are so many books that professionals can use to get ahead in their role. If you know there is a new book out by their favorite business writer or inspirational leader, that can be an easy win (sometimes you can even get signed copies from the author’s website or you local book seller when they have promotional events like book tours). Here are some great books on professional development that can work for a variety of types of professionals:

5; Where Will You Be Five Years From Today – Is a light and breezy book that helps people answer a number of questions around their career goals and helps them begin to imagine that future more clearly. This is my go to book for college grads, but can be great for anyone who is still wondering and exploring what the future holds for them.

Crucial Conversations; Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High – Helps all types of professionals have important and sometimes complicated discussions in their professional lives. This is a great book especially for new managers and leaders.

Case in Point – Is the essential preparation book for anyone who will have to do a case interview, which applies to anyone entering the field of consulting, but also professionals in private equity, strategic planning, marketing, logistic, operations, and human capital. 

You’ve Got the Interview Now What?: Fortune 500 Hiring Professionals Tell You How to Get Hired – Is a great basic interview guide for either a new professional or a person who hasn’t been in the job market for a while and might be a little rusty. This takes them through what to expect, how to prepare, and what to do/not do in an interview.

The Resume Writing Guide: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Creating a Winning Resume – At 292 pages, this really is the COMPLETE workbook on how to get a professional and polished resume together on your own. When I initially ordered the book, it was to see why it was so long, and once I received it, I realized it was because the author does a great job of taking you through every element of how to create a great, polished resume. So, if you want an amazing resume without hiring a writer, this is the book for you.

The Elements of Resume Style: Essential Rules for Writing Resumes and Cover Letters That Work  – This is a shorter book and a great one if you want some insights on creating a clear and impactful resume from the perspective from someone who has hired many people and seen many resumes.

Job Search MUST: Twitter

Even though it is true that twitter can be a large rabbit hole of crazy, distracting things – you can also cultivate a feed that benefits you in powerful ways.  To continue with my theme of featuring sites that you may have overlooked in your job search – I give you:  TWITTER!!!

I’ll beg you to ignore the weird shadows that make me look like I have no front teeth.

What it is: Essentially it is just brief content provided openly.  You follow people sharing content – and thereby create your feed.  You can also share content and join the conversation.

Why you’ll love it: Because the principle of twitter is so simple, it is amazingly elegant and you can use it for so many things.  I’m going to focus here on ways to use it in your job search.

 1. Use it to follow people who have job search advice.  These are people like me, that share tools to help you with finding a job or enriching your career.

Too many talented professionals fall short in the ability to market themselves and navigate the waters of the job search.  There are coaches, HR experts, and savvy entrepreneurs sharing tips that can benefit any type of career on twitter.  Here’s a description on how to follow lists (users grouped by topic) so that you can find a wealth of information, quickly:

2. Use twitter to follow companies you want to work for.  It’s a great research and sourcing tool.  To find a company (especially the account that is focused on hiring) on twitter, type company name and “careers” or “jobs” into the search field (or just go to the main twitter account for the company).  HR and social media teams share information about their culture, important events for their organization, open positions and networking opportunities:

3. Use it to follow experts & peers in your field and join in the conversation. Find professionals that share information, news and events relative to your field.  Staying current is key, so use social media to help you with your professional development.  To start with, you might check any professional publications or associations for your field that are tweeting, and then branch off from there (see who they follow, who they retweet).  You can also retweet or share information that you find that would help peers in you field or industry.  Sharing can be a powerful way to enhance your professional brand online.

Also:  If you can tune in live and watch a twitter chat, you can get a lot of great information quickly, and join in to contribute or ask questions.

Here’s more tips that might help you as you begin to use twitter in your job search:

Getting Started with Twitter

9 Must Follow Twitter Hashtags

5 Useful Twitter Chats for Job Seekers

Just to get you started – 140 Employers Posting Jobs on Twitter

5 Job Search Tips I Learned by Watching Star Wars


…but I was going over to Toshi station to pick up some power converters. Great opportunities will pop-up and change your plans.  These great opportunities sometimes disguise themselves as awful things like getting overlooked for a job or getting fired.  Just because it wasn’t a part of the plan, doesn’t mean it is all bad.  Take heart and try not to sound like Luke at the beginning of the original trilogy.  Please.

Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper? Successful people come in all shapes, sizes, and genders.  If you love it and you are capable, don’t worry about the stereotype for your career.  Seek out employers that value diversity and reward them by being awesome at your job.

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.  Move along.  If it isn’t right, don’t force it (oh that was an unintentional bad pun, but I refuse to erase it).  In all seriousness I believe that when you truly connect with a role or a company – and that when they DIG you back, everything becomes easy.  It becomes a no-brainer from both sides.  If you find yourself really having to talk yourself into it; pause.  Don’t try to make something work that isn’t right for you or for the employer.

I find your lack of faith disturbing.  Turn down the volume on your critics, but stay open to help.  Seek out people that can support your goals by giving you meaningful feedback.  Don’t just stick to peers in your field or your closest buddies, call on professionals too.  Times where it pays to hire help:

  • if it’s a big change
  • if you feel stuck
  • if things just aren’t working the way you’ve been doing it.

Do or do not…there is no try.  Online job searching is great (and necessary as many employers require an online application to be completed), but is much more effective when combined with in-person efforts as well.  Consider your online application just one of the steps, instead of the ONLY step. If you really want a job, find ways to really go for it (without becoming a crazed stalker).  Seek out people in the company to recommend you to the hiring manager.  Ask an employee that currently works there for an informational interview.  Network and meet as many people as you can that work for the company you want to work at – or in the industry you want to work in.  Your relationships will help you immeasurably throughout your career, so form them with care and with purpose.