10 signs that it’s time for a career change

By Hannah Kingston

Wednesday October 14, 2020

neon-change-sign

We all have our bad work days, weeks and sometimes even month(s), but how do you know if there is light at the end of the tunnel or if it’s time to pull the plug on your current set up?

If you are thinking about a career change, it’s not always as simple as picking up your work mug and heading for the hills. There are a number of things you will need to think about, primarily, your next venture and where you would like to work next. Then there are the practical elements like your current financial stability, balancing seeking out new work while holding your current title and the upheaval of starting a new job.

If you have found your way to this article, you are probably strongly considering a career change already. Here are some of the key signs to look out in realizing whether your current thoughts are daydreams or you want them to become reality.

10 signs that it’s time for a career change: 

  1. You feel overqualified for your job 
  2. You dread the prospect of work each morning 
  3. You don’t have pride or respect for your role
  4. You are jealous of your peer group’s career advancement
  5. You feel undervalued or unappreciated
  6. You know that you’re not producing your best work
  7. You are not excited when you think about the future in your current role
  8. You think that your skills would be best suited to a different department, or industry 
  9. You don’t have a great working relationship with your boss, but you have no interest in improving it
  10. You find your eyes wandering elsewhere

You feel overqualified for your job 

Feeling overqualified for your job can be a tough one to deal with, especially if you have been working in the same role for a couple of years. If you have held the same position for a while, you may find yourself pigeonholed into the same rituals and tasks. When this happens, it’s easy to feel like you have hit your ceiling. Without welcome challenges at work, there is more room to daydream about a different reality, thus sparking a desire for a career change.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Speak to your direct manager. Vocalise that you would like to take on more responsibilities or like the opportunity to showcase your skillset on different projects. You can turn this into a positive by showing enthusiasm and drive for new heights as opposed to complaining or stating that you think the work is beneath you.

You dread the prospect of work each morning 

There’s a difference between the dreaded Monday blues, and actively disliking your job. There is a huge variety of factors that could be contributing to your dreading work, from tedious projects to annoying co-workers, there really is something for everyone when it comes to this one. Before categorically deciding that you want to walk, you should first take stock of how many days in a month you actually dread the thought of going into the office. A bad week isn’t a bad job.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Take stock! Literally note down your feelings towards work before starting your day for a full month. If the writing is very much on the wall after your month-long observation, it may be time to cut the cord.

You don’t have pride or respect for your role

No one is expected to consistently stand over their work like a proud lion, but, if you find that you have lost the spark and don’t care whether your work is amazing, good or average, it may be time to ask yourself why. If you have no respect for the work you are doing, that’s a bigger issue. It’s important to feel some level of connection to your job, after all, we spend most of our lives at work, the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work or one third to be exact. You need to care about what you’re doing or both you and your output will suffer.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Ask yourself the hard questions, are you starting to lose interest in your work due to external factors like stress at home? Or is this deeply rooted in the fact that you just don’t care? If the answer is the latter, it’s time to consider a career change.

You are jealous of your peer group’s career advancement

Some friendly competition or a little envy is healthy, we’re all human after all. If however, you are turning as green as the Incredible Hulk, you might be projecting the fact that you want more for yourself within your career.

If you find that it is hard to be happy for your peer group or colleague’s career advancement, this may be stemming from the fact that you’re jealous of their bravery to take the plunge and move onto a new venture. It’s essential that you acknowledge and process these feelings, for the benefit of your peers and for yourself.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Ask yourself if you were given the same job that your peer or colleague currently has in the morning, would you actually want it? Or are you just craving a similar transition that they are currently embarking on? When you have the honest answers to those questions, you will know what you have to do next.

You feel undervalued or unappreciated

Some of the most common reasons for low job satisfaction stems from employees feeling undervalued or underappreciated at work, according to a Clear Review study which says that 40% of employees report feeling undervalued.

Feeling underappreciated at work may be a temporary or longer-term issue, and there are implicit and explicit things you can do to tackle it. If you want to keep things subtle, you can start regularly asking direct managers for feedback on your work. If you are feeling undervalued to the point where it is having a negative impact, it might be an idea to set up a review with your direct manager and showcase your achievements within the team, air the idea of raise or a change in title. See what happens from opening up that line of communication and then sit with it.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: This can be a tough one because it doesn’t solely rely on things that you can do to proactively work on the situation improving. Feeling undervalued or unappreciated at work can stem from a poor work culture, changes in management and even the personal lives of those you work with. You will need to make a call on this depending on your unique set of circumstances. If all else fails, rely on HR for some insight.

You know that you’re not producing your best work

One of the tell-tale signs of an imminent career change is not producing your best work, but more importantly, not having the drive to produce your best work.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Consider resuming your best work? See how that feels? If you’re doing a so-so job, the satisfaction once completed won’t be there and that can become cyclical. If you really have no drive whatsoever to do a good job, it may be time to do you and your employers a favour!

You are not excited when you think about the future in your current role

You don’t have to be visibly ecstatic every time you think of work. No one can operate on a ten at all times, however, there will always be a part of each person who compares what they wanted to be when they were growing up to what they are doing now. Those things don’t always stay the same but if you feel very far away from your current goals, and you don’t feel excited about your current situation, it could be the right time to step away and investigate new opportunities.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: If things don’t feel clear in your mind, and you really don’t know how you could carve out an alternative career path, consider visiting a career guidance counsellor. They exist for adults too!

You think that your skills would be best suited to a different department, or industry 

There is no end to learning or growing within your career. If you are at the point where you feel that you would like to put your analytical, logistical or creative skills to a different task, then that is your right. You only get one life, there is no rule book that says you need to stay glued to one industry for its entirety. If you want a complete change of scene and a fresh set of challenges, go get it!

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Take a moment to consider your new path before taking the leap!

You don’t have a great working relationship with your boss, but you have no interest in improving it

Working relationships are *almost as important as the work itself. It’s very difficult to thrive in environments that are filled with tension or worse, out and out conflict. If you have had a falling out with a manager or a colleague, it can be hard to build that relationship back up unless it is dealt with immediately and lines of communication are clear in the aftermath of the argument. If you have no interest in improving the damage, that may be a sign that you have had enough and are ready to leave regardless of the interpersonal grievances.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: Depending on the situation, consider delivering an olive branch. If your boss is in the right and you want to keep your job, try to sweeten the situation. If your boss is in the wrong, remember that they are still the decision-maker but do report any misconduct to HR if you feel they have acted inappropriately. If you don’t care either way, consider walking away.

You find your eyes wandering elsewhere

There is nothing wrong with taking a look at what else might be out there for you, it might be a good opportunity to simply do a salary comparison. If you find yourself scrolling through alternative job specs on the regular though, that could be enough of a sign to tell you that your heart is not in your current role anymore and it’s time for something new.

Alternative to handing in your notice right away: At this point, you may have already made your mind up.


READ MORE: 10 simple yet effective ways to make your CV stand out 

READ MORE: How to get a promotion in the public sector: 10 tips for getting ahead 

Tell us the advice you wish you had heard before your career change in the comments. 

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