There was a time when people regularly stayed with the same employer for decades. Sure, people were fired and transferred while others would leave for better opportunities, but on average, people stayed put much longer than they do now. These days, the average length of employment with the same company is 4.6 years.
This culture shift benefits employees, as it’s more acceptable now to leave a position for other opportunities — meaning they have less reason to stay in a negative and unfulfilling workplace.
But the difficulty lies with knowing when the right time is for you to leave your job. Here are nine signs it may be time to head off into the sunset.
1. There Goes That Promotion
You worked hard on loads of projects, put in unpaid overtime, worked on weekends and through lunches, but when a management vacancy needed to be filled, someone with less experience and ability got the spot.
There could be many reasons for this snub. The other person may better fit the image people have of what it takes to succeed in the role. Or, they may just be better than you.
Little comfort, whatever the reason. They got the job, and you didn’t. This may be a sign that your contributions and efforts aren’t being valued by the people who should be noticing. It may be a risk, but stating your desire to fulfill your potential elsewhere might spur your seniors into action. If not, then it may be time to head to new pastures.
Is it time to quit your job? Use our FREE workbook to decide whether to stay or go.
2. “Could You Do a Coffee Run?”
You used to be given important responsibilities. Perhaps people reported to you and you had a say on major decisions or a significant budget tied to your role.
Now, seemingly for no reason, things have changed. If you’re part of the meetings at all, you’re given more junior tasks, and you’re required to report to others and provide regular updates on your activities. If things have gotten really bad, you may even be sent on errands like picking up lunch or getting the coffee.
This is a sure sign you’re not being taken seriously anymore. This treatment may be related to performance, personality differences or something completely beyond your control. It doesn’t have to make sense. You also don’t have to accept it.
3. “Dave Who?”
They say as much business gets done at the bar or on the golf course as it does at the office. Outings with coworkers allow you to get to know each other in a relaxed setting. You may find things in common with several of them, such as shared hobbies or mutual friends.
Those ties assist you at work. People understand how your mind operates, what your strengths are and, if they like you, they’ll be far more willing to cooperate with you on projects and other tasks.
But things are getting bad when you’re being deliberately left out of office-related social functions. I’m not talking about official events like the office Christmas party, because not being invited to that would be pretty brutal. But if your colleagues head out for drinks after work without inviting you for the umpteenth time, it may be a little concerning. Check your breath and your zipper. If those pass the test, it may be that your personality doesn’t fit in the office culture — or that people are playing their own agendas.
We all like being around people who like us. If you’re not invited out for darts and a few drinks, you may be seen as difficult, boring or just unpopular — none of which are particularly conducive to an effective workforce. If business lunches and happy hours are consistently scheduled when colleagues know you’re unavailable, it may be time to review your position.
4. Taking the Office Home
Many people have a hard time leaving work at work, especially if financial struggles and layoff rumors are spreading around the office like a twisted game of telephone. That said, bringing work home can (and will) make you more irritable, mentally drained and not as much fun to be around.
There’s a saying that may be clichéd, but is nonetheless close to the mark: “No one on their deathbed ever wished they’d spent more time at the office.”
Bringing work home is essentially the same as always being at work, and no one wants that — except maybe your boss, but we’ll get to him later. Not only do you get to have no down time, but in the long run, it lowers your performance on the job because you’ve had no mental respite.
Long-term, things can’t go on if you’re in this mindframe. Something will have to give, and as important as your job is to you, I’d wager your health and family are more important.
5. This Isn’t the Complaints Department
There’s nothing worse than the waiter who stinks at customer service, or the grocery clerk who doesn’t know where to find the sugar and, in fact, couldn’t care less about the damn sugar.
If you dread picking up the phone because you’re tired of hearing people do nothing but complain (even though your title is Customer Service Agent), or you hate rush hour traffic but drive a cab, it may be time to switch jobs.
Your irritation may be related to a changing work climate, corporate financial distress or management turnover. Whatever the reason, the message stays the same: If you hate the core aspects of your job, it’s time to move on.
6. Horrible Bosses
Does your boss constantly exercise poor judgement and focus on the wrong parts of the job? Do they not get along with their subordinates? Do they provide inconsistent, unconstructive or barely existent feedback? Do you spend hours or days on an “urgent” task, only for it to be ignored when your boss comes up with a new “top priority”?
Ineffective management and unclear instructions make it hard for you to do your job. It can get to the point where you’re no longer emotionally invested in your work, which could potentially lead to you just not caring.
Unfortunately, there’s a good chance your boss is going to still be around. So, if they aren’t going anywhere, that only leaves one person in the equation who can.
7. From Great to Good
You can’t honestly see anything different in your performance, but you notice those fours and fives that used to dominate your evaluations are now threes and fours, and all those areas previously rated as “excellent” are now just “good.”
Many people fall into a comfort zone in their jobs after a while, especially if they do the same work over and over. And as the saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt”; some of us need variety in our work as this change provides stimulation.
It can happen slowly, starting out with you doing fewer of the extras that earned you those fives on past evaluations. You’re still generating sales but aren’t making additional suggestions for related purchases. Maybe you don’t help out new staff like you used to or haven’t volunteered for extra duties for a while.
This attitude can slowly permeate into the core aspects of your work, causing a performance decline that gets noticed by superiors (who also become future references). So if you losing some of your zest for the job, remember that this can affect your ability to secure that better job that allows you to get your mojo back.
8. “It’s Peterson, Right?”
Most people experience a bit of a honeymoon period when they start in a new position. Your supervisors are more likely to be cordial since they understand you’re new and not yet comfortable in the position. The good ones remember when they were in your spot and try and help you out.
Once you’ve developed your routine, you should settle into a pattern of communication with your superiors that’s based on personalities, workload, office culture and other factors.
One day, months or years down the line, it dawns on you that you don’t speak to your superiors as often. Once-friendly hallway conversations are now brief pleasantries or non-existent. While it’s entirely possible this has no connection to you or your performance, there’s a chance the perception of you in the company has changed. A lack of communication from your higher-ups may be a sign that you aren’t valued as much and that interactions with you aren’t seen as worth their time.
Is it time to quit your job? Use our FREE workbook to decide whether to stay or go.
9. Your Heart Just Isn’t In It
Remember when you left work excited to get home and tell everyone about what you did? When you got up the next day and were excited about getting to work to carry on where you left off the day before?
Now, you can’t wait to leave work. At the end of the day, if you’re not enjoying your job anymore and if there’s no real prospect of that changing anytime soon, then it’s time to move on. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Your performances will inevitably start to suffer, negatively impacting your colleagues and potentially your ability to get a new job.
Word of Warning
If one or more of these signs speak to you, it may be time to start listening. I’d recommend you have a meeting with your boss before doing anything rash, to ensure you haven’t completely misread any signals — but if your job isn’t what you expected, or hoped, it would be, it may be time to make like the employee in this video (minus the “F You” email, of course):
How have you known when it’s time to move on?