“Should I change jobs?”
This is a thought that has crossed most people’s minds at least once, but for some people, this once-fleeting thought develops into a recurring chorus.
But here’s the challenge:
How do you determine what difficulties, annoyances, or issues are normal for any workplace? And what justifies a move to a new job? When should you press on and persevere through a situation? And when should you cut your losses and move on?
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not changing jobs is a good idea.
Your unique goals, needs, and situation will ultimately determine whether changing jobs is the right move for you.
However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons so that you make a move that makes sense. Without considering all the various factors, you could inadvertently hamper your budget or career trajectory.
Here’s what you should consider before changing jobs.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker has held 12 different jobs by the time they turn 50, so if you’re considering making a move, remember that you’re not alone.
These are some reasons you might want to make the switch:
1. You’re not being paid what you're worth.
A job is a two-way street. Yes, you are providing a service to your employer, but your employer should also respect your skills and show that appreciation through fair compensation. There are many resources such as ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, Payscale, and Indeed that will help you figure out what people with the same job title in your area are earning. It’s also important to take your experience into consideration.
If you’ve been working as an accountant for 10 years, for example, your pay should be higher than someone who has just graduated from school. If you’re happy where you are, consider asking your employer for a raise. Present the data objectively and make the case that you should be making more. If your employer refuses to give you a raise, then you can look for a job confidently knowing that the market supports a higher wage.
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2. You aren’t happy.
While being paid your worth is important, it’s equally (if not more) important to be happy and fulfilled with your job. If your salary can’t make up for your dissatisfaction with your workplace, then that should be a big, red flag.
Here’s the kicker: in some cases, it might be okay to stay at a job even if you’re unsatisfied.
So, when is that appropriate?
This typically comes down to your goals and having a clear vision for the future.
For example, many new lawyers graduate from law school with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt. One of the strategies that new lawyers have used is to get a job at a big law firm to pay off their student debt as quickly as possible.
But here’s the thing: big law firms have a reputation for being emotionally and professionally draining. They can require 80-100 hour workweeks. For most people, this is unsustainable in the long run, but for new lawyers with large debt, they’ll often commit to working for a major firm for a few years. They’ll use that time to pay off their debt and then transfer to a firm with a better work-life balance.
In short, if you aren’t happy, it’s likely time to change jobs, but it’s also okay to stay put if you have a strategic reason for doing so.
3. It’s a mismatch
Your job is a type of relationship. Sure, it’s not exactly like dating or marriage, but you do have a professional relationship with your employer.
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With that being said, just like people can change, companies can change. Do your career goals still match the company’s goals? Are your skill sets and talents being utilized by your workplace? Do your assignments and responsibilities align with your interests?
If you answered “no” to these questions, it may be time to change jobs. Just because a job seemed like the right fit at first, it doesn’t mean that it’ll always be that way. Similar to dating, your view of the company might change (and change for the worse) the longer you are there.
4. You’ve grown, but the company hasn’t grown with you.
One of the fulfilling aspects of a career is your ability to grow professionally. It’s not uncommon for people to grow and develop from their initial role, but a workplace that respects and appreciates you should grow alongside you.
This could mean a promotion, a raise, a bonus, or more responsibilities.
If your employer is unwilling to recognize your growth as a professional, then don’t be afraid to begin exploring your options.
Knowing when to change jobs can be a sticky conundrum.
Because most of us have a sense of “loyalty” and appreciation to our employer. Just as our employer took a risk by hiring us and providing an opportunity to make a living, we want to show this appreciation through “loyalty.”
But again, it’s important to remember that a job is a two-way street.
Your employer should appreciate you just as much as you appreciate your job.
If you are not being paid your value, then the best thing you can do for your budget is to find a job that is mutually beneficial.
However, it’s not all about the money.
What if you’re underpaid, but your budget is fine and you are happy and fulfilled at your job? Are there any scenarios when it might be a good idea to stay at the same job?
4 Signs You Should Stay at the Same Job
If you’re asking whether or not you should change jobs, chances are that you are either dissatisfied or being underpaid at your current job.
Still, there are some reasons why it might benefit you to stay in your current position.
1. Leadership change is coming.
In most cases, a high turnover rate is a red flag, as this indicates people are unhappy with the company.
However, if you know that people above you are leaving, then this presents multiple opportunities.
First, could this present a potential promotion or advancement for you? Does your company tend to promote from within? If so, you might want to consider staying.
Even if you don’t get a promotion, a leadership change could result in a positive cultural change in your workplace. Change can be scary, but it can also be an opportunity.
2. The pros of staying outweigh the cons.
Let’s say the biggest con of staying at your current job is your pay rate.
There could be other pros such as the potential of company growth that results in a future pay raise or promotion.
Perhaps you’re working at a start-up. A new company won’t have the established resources to pay the same amount as a larger company, but if you’re happy and if the company respects you, then you should have plenty of professional opportunities to grow alongside the company.
Again, it depends on your long-term goals and where you see the company going in the long-run.
3. You’ve only been at the job a few months.
Unless the workplace is toxic or abusive, most career advisors recommend staying at a job at least 12 months before switching to another one. Jumping jobs too often can look questionable to potential employers. Just because things got off on the wrong foot, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be that way.
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Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if in your heart-of-hearts you know that the job was the absolute wrong match, then don’t be afraid to look for other opportunities. However, don’t make a habit of jumping ship simply because things are difficult.
4. You’re happy.
If you’re able to pay the bills and balance the budget, the important thing is that you’re happy with your job and have a good work-life balance.
Sure, you might get more money somewhere else, but would it be worth it if you're miserable?
There are many factors that could affect your happiness: you feel satisfied by your work, you appreciate your co-workers, you like your boss, you align with the company’s values, you have opportunities for growth, etc.
The Bottom Line
Deciding whether to stay or leave is never an easy decision, but I hope this article has helped you better weigh the pros and cons of looking for greener, professional pastures.
Do you have any other tips?
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