In May 2022, the U.S. Labor Bureau of Statistics reported that 4.3 million people quit their jobs. Which raises the question, why did they leave? It could have been a more competitive salary, their desired work/life balance, more robust benefits, to care for loved ones, etc.
Have any of these thoughts crossed your mind?
- Perhaps you’ve been with the same company for several years and want to explore what’s out there.
- Were you browsing LinkedIn or Indeed and stumbled across new opportunities?
- Maybe you have been feeling dissatisfaction in your job for some time.
Any of these reasons could leave you wondering if there might be a better fit for you. Before you make a knee-jerk reaction and possibly take action like those 4.3 million people, there are some questions you should ask yourself.
Today, we’ll help you consider if a career change is the right step for you, the questions to ask yourself before you do, and the steps to help get you there.
First, Evaluate Your Current Position
Are you fulfilled in your current job?
Many factors influence your satisfaction in a job and at a company. Before you make a career change, you must identify what these areas and benefits might be.
- Your pay
- The office environment
- Getting to work remotely or having a flexible schedule
- Equity compensation
- Health benefits?
Ask yourself questions about your current job and evaluate if it’s meeting your present and future needs.
- What are your career goals?
- What do you stand to gain by pursuing other opportunities (starting a business, working in a field you’re passionate about, etc.)?
- What do you stand to lose by leaving your current company (vested equity, pension, or other benefits)?
When you more thoroughly understand your present situation, you’ll be able to make an informed decision regarding a career change. On the surface, if you can gain more than you’ll lose, it may be time to explore a new opportunity.
But there are a lot of questions you’ll have to think through before tendering a resignation. Start by considering what factors make your workplace and career path “positive.”
Focus Areas That Make A Positive Job
You don’t want to remain stagnant in a job/career as it can lead to a lack of interest and overall discontent. There must be positive areas for you to focus on to spark renewed interest in your role. This will also help carve a career path where you’re interested in growing and evolving.
In this next section, we will explore what areas make up a positive job.
Professional Development Opportunities
Professional development is an essential part of a fulfilling long-term role. Consider your professional development goals and how your company is or isn’t meeting them. Let’s look at some examples:
- Attending seminars or conferences to network, learn new skills, or discover the latest industry best practices.
- Does your company pay for you to attain higher-level education?
- If you attain more skills and education, can you expect/work toward a raise and promotion?
Another vital part of professional development is receiving constructive feedback from your manager or supervisor.
- Do you have regular employee evaluations? Are those evaluations helpful? Do you receive recognition and positive feedback? Are improvements framed in a constructive, growth-minded way? Is there room to grow?
- Are you given examples of what they think that improvement could look like? Written or verbal confirmation of what your boss or supervisor would like to see helps you attain forward momentum, possibly towards a promotion, a change of divisions, etc.
If you’re not receiving constructive feedback, you might have done all the growing you can in one place. It could signal a time to move on.
Potential for Vertical Movement
Opportunities for advancement are important personally (vote of confidence in your performance and financially.
Many promotions include a better title, increased base salary, and advanced compensation options, like equity. As you earn more, you may be able to get closer to your financial goals by maxing out your 401k, building up an emergency fund, saving for college, etc.
Gen X carries a lot of financial responsibility for themselves, adult children, and aging parents. Since you’re reaching your prime earning years, taking advantage of all your wealth-building opportunities is critical.
Personal capital is limited, and your window for using it closes, so don’t dismiss it. Use it!
A lack of opportunities for advancement could leave you feeling stuck. Right now, it’s all about maximizing your high-earning years. Whether that looks like salary, benefits, or a combo, you should feel like there is still room to grow. If you’re in your mid-40s, you still have a good 15-20 years left of working—make the most of it!
Do you feel you’re spending so much time and energy on work that you have nothing left for your personal life?
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. If you are simply working to pay the bills and fall in bed at night, it might be time to consider if that job is helping you live or merely survive. There are several ways your work arrangements can infringe upon your life. Let’s review some of the most common.
Are you struggling with a long commute?
“A new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows the average one-way commute in the United States increased to a new high of 27.6 minutes in 2019.”
That’s almost an hour every day just for a commute! And it only gets worse for some commuters—just ask someone stuck on the 1-10 at rush hour. You may decide that not being in the car for an hour a day or more is a priority to you.
Do you feel that you’re being asked to do too much for a full-time position?
Feel like if you left today, it would take three people to replace you? That may signify that you are taking on more than your fair share of work. While staying productive is good, you shouldn’t bring extra work home every night!
Plants wither without water and sunlight, and without the proper nutrients, they won’t thrive. The same idea is true at work. If you’re stuck in a culture that drains you, your productivity will likely suffer. Company culture is just as crucial to producing good work as an excellent education or experience is.
So, do you work somewhere that “feeds” you? What does that look like? Let’s explore some key questions to determining that.
Do you feel welcome, included, and supported?
Or were you just given a quick tour, shown to your cubicle, and left alone from there. Feeling isolated can leave you feeling unmotivated and unsupported.
Do you feel connected with your coworkers?
Have there been company picnics, volunteer days, and a lunch room where people enjoy eating together? These opportunities to get to know those you work with are ideal for fostering relationships.
Do the company’s values align with your own?
Shared values are a strong indicator of where you are a right fit for you. A workplace with a positive and engaging culture can encourage employees to have more positive engagement in their work.
Steps to Take If You’re Unsure a Job Change is Right for You!
Dithering on the edge of change? “Do I or don’t I” have your head spinning? Here are some helpful steps to take to clarify your decision.
Consider Your Emotions
How you feel is certainly an essential part of the decision-making process. But make sure you leave room for rationale!
You know never to send an email angry, so don’t make any big decisions if you’re overwhelmed by emotion. To check those feelings, ask yourself these baseline questions.
- Will a career move help me reach my long-term career goals?
- Am I getting enough training/opportunities to learn and grow?
- Am I satisfied with my compensation and benefits?
- Does my current job leave me with a good amount of personal time?
- Are my talents and abilities being utilized and recognized?
- Do I feel physically and emotionally safe?
- Do I feel happy/fulfilled by my job functions?
These questions consider your feelings while leaving room for more controlled questions to create a nice balance.
Identify Your Primary Concerns
Once you’ve identified areas of improvement in your current job, decide if these areas are primary concerns.
- Outdated computer underperforming? Is this slowing your progress? Put in a request for updated software so you can perform your job in a less frustrating environment.
- Concerns over expectations to answer emails and calls after regular work hours.
- Wage increase? Has it been a while since you’ve seen an increase in your wages? It might be time to inquire with HR or your boss about getting one.
If you relate to these points, try voicing your concerns!
Voice Your Concerns
If you feel comfortable, consider voicing your concerns to a supervisor or human resources professional in your workplace.
If you do not feel comfortable, that could be a red flag.
You should be able to express your concerns without receiving backlash. Even if you decide to leave, sharing your concerns and ideas for improvement may impact other people’s experiences.
Another red flag to consider could be the company’s turnover rate. The ‘great resignation’ movement began with the less talked about ‘massive firing of low-level employees!’ Consider how employers treat their people all the time, not just on your hire date.
If your concerns are being ignored, a job change might be a reasonable next step.
Phone a Friend
Wondering if you might be missing something in all your one-on-one conversations with yourself? Maybe you’ve thought this whole thing over so many times your head is spinning! You need a fresh angle and new perspective that isn’t coming from you.
Speak with a friend, mentor, financial advisor, etc., to gain helpful insights that you may not have considered on your own. An outside opinion from a valued person in your life could make all the difference!
Decide, and Take Action!
After going through all these steps, it’s time to decide.
You must do what is best for you.
It’s easy to stay in a position because it feels comfortable or easier than starting something new. But if that isn’t working for you, consider making a change. If you decide to stay, ensure that your concerns will be addressed moving forward and improvements will be made.
You should also consider what’s best for your financial future. Have your financial needs changed?
- Did a parent move in with you?
- Is your child still living at home?
In doing what is best for you, it is important to make a sound financial decision. While also considering your other concerns. Still having trouble deciding if a career change is right for you? Schedule a meeting with one of our trusted advisors today!