5 Signs It's Time For A Career Change

Everyone has worked in a job they didn’t like. It might have been years ago, when you got your first job at a fast-food restaurant or as a camp counselor. It might be now. If you think you hate your job, there’s a good chance it’s because you just, sort of, fell into it. You got a position, got good at it and stayed there.

That’s fine, and you can continue to stay there so long as you’re happy. Since you’re reading this article, it seems safe to assume that’s not the case. If you recognize any of these signs, it may be time to consider a career change.

1. It’s a Toxic Environment

This can take form in a variety of ways, but any time the environment you’re in is toxic, you should try to get out. You might start to notice depression or anxiety when you think about work, or you might feel bullied there. These issues are often a result of immature leadership, or a company culture that allows a frat house sense of community. In other words, you have to be hazed and become just like your co-workers in order to be accepted.

This can also result in a serious work/life imbalance. If you are constantly expected to put your job ahead of your family life, your requests for time off aren’t respected or if you’re expected to come in even when you’re sick, you might need to consider a change. Obviously, some jobs require this – doctors, firefighters and the like – but the other 99 percent of jobs need to respect time off the clock.

2. You’re Stuck

Have you hit a glass ceiling? If so, that can be a sign you need to consider other options. Being unable to progress any farther happens more quickly in small companies, and on its own doesn’t necessarily mean you should be worried. However, if a lack of promotion is accompanied by a history of no one advancing unless they were in “the club,” you may have some legitimate cause for concern.

If you’re worried this has happened, there’s no reason to fret. Usually, this ceiling is a great indicator that you are a very capable person. There’s a good chance you can find another company who would be happy to see you to the top.

3. You’re Drastically Undercompensated

Some positions have a nasty habit of heaping on more and more responsibility with no increase in compensation for it. Perhaps some of this could be a result of you needing further education or training in your field. It might also be that your company doesn’t have the funds to pay you more, or what was supposed to be a temporary assignment turned into a permanent one.

Whatever the reason, first determine if the company is willing to fix it. Check reputable sources to find out what the average pay for your position is. If you really are as far off as you thought, try to fix it.

Maybe it’s a simple oversight that can be taken care of quickly and fairly. If not, then you should at least expect an explanation, and if you can’t even get that, something is seriously off.

4. You Have Zero Passion

Sometimes we all get stuck in a funk. However, there’s a difference between not enjoying some aspects of our job and having no passion for the business. If you think this might be you, there’s an easy way to find out.

What’s the best part of your job?

If you can say something like “helping people” or “the challenge of it,” then you’ve still got some passion there. However, if your answer was “leaving for the day” or “calling in sick,” then you may have a bigger problem, and it might be time to spruce up that resume.

5. The Culture Doesn’t Fit

Company culture is something that you either fit with, live with or hate. Hating it’s a problem. So take an obvious look at two giants with very different cultures – Microsoft and Google. Google is famous for its innovative culture. It encouraged employees to get together, share ideas, consider the big picture and basically do everything in their power to avoid becoming a siloed organization. Microsoft has a less open forum. It screens what information travels around from other projects and shuffles resources to its current top priorities, in a much more traditional business setting.

Which one fits you better depends on your personality, but it’s safe to say you probably wouldn’t be happy at both. Culture is so ingrained it’s almost impossible for one person to change it, so if it’s not working for you, it’s probably not going to get any better. If you simply don’t like the way the company runs, figure out what you like least and make it a deal breaker for your next position.


Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career-development blogger. Her blog, Punched Clocks, is all about helping young professional find happiness and success in their careers. Passionate about learning, Sarah advocates a career filled with continuous learning and growth. For more advice from Sarah, subscribe to her blog and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum