When is it Time to Consider a Career Change?

By Rex Rolf, Career, Leadership and Performance Coach at Cornerstone Performance Group, LLC.

The beginning of a new year or quarter is the perfect time to pause and consider your personal and professional status, goals, and actions that will position you for future success. New Year Resolutions are often achieved or discarded depending on the level of planning, commitment, and consistency of actions taken until success is achieved. We often don’t achieve our career goals because we don’t thoroughly evaluate our situation, write our goals down, and set a clear plan how to achieve them.

Before goals and actions are established it is good to ask tough questions of yourself where you are at and where you want to go. So how do we know when the circumstances warrant making a career or role change? Here are 15 questions you should answer when considering making a change.

1) How essential or relevant am I (or is my role) to the organization?

It is important to know and appreciate how your role impacts the organization, internal stakeholders, or external customers. You can oftentimes take pride and assume relevancy in even small contributions because to many they may not be small acts at all. Most of us can be replaced, however, understanding and appreciating how you make a difference and what your value proposition is will be key to assessing your situation.

2) Is my opinion sought after and valued?

When a boss or coworker(s) asks “what do you think”, you know you are valued. If this happens on a frequent basis you know you are highly valued. If not, you may be in a situation where you are being taken for granted or are not fully appreciated.

3) Am I learning new things that can be leveraged in future roles or projects?

Each new task carried out or new bit of knowledge employed sets you up for growth and promotion. Validate that your job requires and enables developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities that the broader market wants and demands.

4) Am I intellectually stimulated?

Staying mentally challenged, intrigued, and curious about the duties of your job keeps you engaged and interested. If you are deeply connected, boredom and a stagnate thought processes are not likely to be an issue.

5) Are my relationships with my boss, team, and/or stakeholders solid and positive?

If you work for a lousy boss or have bad peer relationships, it does not matter how good the company is; you have a tough situation and you should consider a new opportunity. However, when you work with people you like and respect, and they like and respect you in return, the company itself looks a lot better and you are likely in a good situation.

6) Does the company culture support my professional and personal needs and values?

We all have holistic individual needs and values that must be met to be happy in our work. If your role or company cannot satisfy your needs you will not be happy over time. It is important to define your relational and environmental needs and match them up to how well the company satisfies those needs. These needs may include money, relationships, resources, professional development, growth opportunities, and influence etc. Often stress and unhappiness is a result of unfulfilled needs and values misalignment. Decide if it is an issue for you and act on your conclusion.

7) Am I happy and thriving, or am I just hanging on to my current job because I can or because I do not have an alternative to turn to?

If a new job immediately presented itself that appeared to be better would you pursue it and likely take it? A lot of times we hang on to a job because that is all we know and we don’t want to run the risk of jeopardizing a steady paycheck. Ask the question, “am I eagerly going towards my new job or trying to aggressively leave my current job?”

8) Do I dread Monday’s and can’t wait for Friday’s?

If you have to drag yourself to work on Monday and can’t wait to leave work on Friday, ask yourself why. You can’t sustain this kind of tension very long without it affecting your performance and motivation. You have to get to the root cause of why you feel this way and determine what you intend to do about it.

9) Are people being promoted, remaining stagnate, or losing their jobs around me?

If people are getting promoted around you and you are not, before you determine that it is a fairness issue do an honest assessment of your performance and seek to make improvements if necessary.

If there a lot of turmoil going on around you and people are stagnate or staff reductions are taking place you are likely vulnerable as well. Prepare yourself to be “market ready” so you are able to respond quickly should your job be affected. I have often worked with clients that tell me after they’ve lost their job. “I didn’t think it would happen to me. I wish I was better prepared.” Change, however, can also be a good thing. It can push you to strive for things out of necessity and also keep you from coasting due to comfort and complacency. We grow best through change.

10) Does my job ideally fit my skills and competencies?

You may be able to do the job but it may be outside of you core skills and competencies. If the job is constantly difficult and you are consistently under stress just trying to keep up, it may not align with your current skill level, or more likely your core competencies. See my competency article discussing how competencies enable career mobility.

Make sure your skills are keeping up with market demands. Close any gaps through exposure to new skills, education, and mentoring.

11) Does my job allow me a quality work-life balance?

This is a personal question involving your personal responsibilities, priorities, values, motivations, and dependents. Only you can answer it but others may be highly connected to the conclusions you come to.

12) Is my stress level manageable and can it be sustained overtime without damaging my physical or emotional health?

Working at the expense of your health is never a good scenario. A “healthy stress” can actually stimulate you to achieve success rather than push and exhaust you to avoid the fear of failure.

Is my stress grounded in excitement or worry? Your answer makes all the difference in the world regarding your health and well-being.

13) Am I financially rewarded commensurate with my role, level, and the market?

Money does not buy happiness but neither does working for less than you are worth. Do some research to see how you compare to the going market rate. Further, assess your value proposition to the organization. If you are behind the curve, determine if you can make a compelling case for more compensation had have a discussion with your boss at the appropriate review time. A lot of questions will be answered as a result of your meeting.

14) Does my job fit in well with the changing economy for the foreseeable future?

Validate that your job function is going to be relevant to the company and the market in the future. Determine how job or occupation is trending.
Simply Hired
Department of Labor
PWC Business Trends

Identify where the new career “hot-spots” are that you may want to pursue.

15) What do I gain or lose by waiting to make a change?

Lay out your T-Chart decision matrix and weigh the pros and cons of waiting or leaping forward.

To take it a step further, identify and write down your decision criteria and what “ideally” looks good for you going forward. Write those items down, weight and score them according to their importance to you. Then hold your job options up next to your ideal weighted criteria and see how they match up.

Even if 3 of your answers are not positive you likely need to dig deeper and come up with a plan for resolution. Ultimately the decision comes down to “do I go and grow” or “stay and strive” for better opportunities.

If you are considering a career change or you are in a quandary about doing so, drop me an email or set up a free of charge conversation and I’ll be glad to process your situation with you. Just click on this Contact Rex Link.