It’s not an easy question to answer. Finding a new job is an extremely personal thing and everyone’s reasons are different.
Some people just fancy a change, others are relocating so have no choice. Redundancy is sadly not an uncommon motivation too in these modern times.
The truth is – if you’re happy with your role and the company you have no reason to find a new job.
It’s also important to distinguish between minor niggles and major issues.
The over familiar office admin talking at you for longer than is socially acceptable is annoying but not worth jumping ship over.
Neither is putting up with the guy who seems to get more of his lunch around his mouth than in it. It’s unpleasant but it’s also avoidable. Even manageable to some extent.
Nor are you going to agree with every term, condition, process or procedure set out in the company handbook. Providing it doesn’t impede your work or impact on your earning potential you can probably live with it.
But then there are the big things. Like directors who won’t listen then act surprised when things don’t work.
Or restrictive procedures that make it impossible to get anything done – just so your line manager feels like they’re in control.
The stories are endless.
It’s situations like this that might mean it’s time for a change. When niggles are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Here are some of the signs to look out for that might be telling you it’s time to update your CV.
You’re stressed (and irritable)
We’ve been taught to believe that stress is just something we have to deal with in life. But in fact stress has a lot more to do with how we’re treated rather than what we do for a living.
In the late 60s a study by the Department of Medical Statistics & Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine examined mortality rates in civil servants. The Whitehall studies – as they became known – concluded that civil servants in low status jobs experienced higher mortality rates than those in high status jobs.
The study found lower grades were clearly associated with higher prevalence of significant risk factors. These risk factors include obesity, smoking, reduced leisure time, less physical activity, higher prevalence of underlying illness and higher blood pressure.
The result? Lower grade civil servants were 50% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
In other words the stress was killing them. So maybe it isn’t so tough at the top after all.
The cause was simple – in hierarchical structures where individuals aren’t trusted, have diminished autonomy but high levels of responsibility, stress runs rampant.
To put it another way – when an individual is expected to meet or exceed unreasonable expectations but not given the means, time, training, support or freedom to deliver the work in the way they choose, stress (and mental health issues) can result.
Stress is very bad for the body. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure. Long term that significantly increases the chances of heart disease.
Cortisol levels – a naturally occurring steroid hormone – become elevated too. This causes all sorts of problems including: rapid weight gain around the torso and face, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, mood swings and increased thirst (and frequent urination).
There is also a link between elevated levels of cortisol and mental health issues although the significance is not yet clearly understood.
So while some stress should be expected in any job, if you’re feeling consistently stressed then something is wrong.
If you’ve nodded along to any of this then it’s probably time to update your CV.
You’re stuck in a rut
All jobs have their fair share of repetitive tasks. It’s the nature of the beast. But if you’ve found yourself doing the same thing day in, day out for years with little or no change then alarm bells should be ringing.
To be clear, we don’t mean you’ve been with the company 6 months and you’ve not been promoted. We all want to make an impact but we also need to be patient.
Good companies challenge you to take on new responsibilities, train others or grow into new roles. Bad ones leave you to fester and die because either they like you where you are or they just don’t care.
Whichever one it is, it’s not great for you.
Of course, some people are quite happy doing the same role they were hired to do however many years ago. If the work is varied and you’re happy then good for you: you’re amongst the 20% of people who love their job.
It’s also important to note that long service doesn’t earn you anything. Although companies are mostly hierarchical, they’re also meritocracies too. Or at least they should be.
Which means promotions shouldn’t be handed out just because you’re the last one standing.
It’s bad for business and worse for the culture.
On the other hand, if you’re stuck in a role you don’t enjoy and your organisation has overlooked you for other roles then it might be time to move on.
You never have a good day
Even people who love their job get the Sunday night blues. It’s normal. No matter how much you enjoy what you do or love working for the company. There aren’t many people who would choose work over time with the family or enjoying their hobbies.
There is a colossal difference between being bit grumbly on a Sunday evening and being consistently and unrelentingly miserable about work.
If every question about your day or a general enquiry about work from a friend sparks an angry or frustrated rant then something is seriously wrong.
If you’re experiencing anxiety or something akin to a deep sense of dread on your way in to work each morning then – again – something is seriously wrong.
These are not normal or healthy feelings.
Even though the majority of people may not love their jobs, not everyone hates their job. This is not normal.
If you regularly contemplate calling in sick because it’s preferable to the misery that awaits you between the hours of 9 and 5 you need to get out.
Unhappy employees usually make for unproductive employees. Which is hardly surprising. Humans can be remarkably obstinate at the best of times, let alone when we don’t want to do something.
Whether it’s finding reasons to be away from your desk or you’re spending hours idly browsing Facebook or Instagram it’s fair to say you’re unfulfilled in your work.
But also there’s a professional cost to this laissez faire attitude to your work. Aside from a mounting pile of work that isn’t getting done, you isolate yourself from your colleagues.
This means they’re far less likely to help you in the event of a problem.
They’re also far less likely to defend you when you inevitably earn the ire of your line manager.
That is assuming you’re just feeling bored and unfulfilled.
If you’re displaying any of the other signs outlined above then punctuality, hostility towards others, resistance to responsibility, sensitivity to criticism and clashing with management are all things that cause productivity (and positivity) plummet.
Of course, all this behaviour is all incredibly self-sabotaging because the more you avoid work the more you’ll have to do. Which increases your negative feelings towards work.
Your health is suffering
It should be clear by now that your job – and your happiness at work – can have a real impact on your sense of wellbeing. And your health.
If you’re unhappy at work sleep is often one of the first things to suffer. Which of course, sours our mood, makes it harder for us to think and impacts on our work. Which exacerbates many of the issues above.
But wait, it gets better!
Stress – in addition to the long term impact – has another nasty trick up its sleeve. The increased cortisol in the blood stream caused by stress suppresses your immune system. Which means you’re more likely to catch colds and other illnesses.
Impacting on your attendance and work performance. Increasing stress. And so it goes on.
Then there’s the emotional impact of being unhappy in your work.
Being unhappy in your work can (but not always) lead to mental health issues.
Feelings of low self-worth, stress and feeling out of control can easily turn into anxiety and depression.
In these cases changing jobs won’t necessarily address the issue and we would strongly recommend you engage with local mental health services and talking therapies in order to work through it.
But if your job has directly or indirectly contributed to you developing mental health issues then it is most certainly time for a change.
In the UK the Stevenson Farmer report, Thriving at Work (2017) sets out a framework of core standards that employers can and should put in place. The core standards are designed to both safeguard employee mental health as well as support those with ongoing mental health issues.
However, the main thing to note is – if your mental or physical health is suffering because of your job then it’s time to change.
It’s important to say that we’re not advocating a job swap at the merest hint of stress. Or after a couple of rough weeks where things just haven’t gone your way.
Similarly not everyone gets the promotion. Sometimes there’s just someone better suited than you.
And just because you get a lot of colds doesn’t mean your job is consuming your soul. A visit to your doctor would be a more proportionate first response than handing in your notice.
If, however you’re experiencing enduring periods of stress, malaise or general dissatisfaction then it might be time for a change. Especially if it impacts on your mood and your sense of wellbeing.
We’re always searching for experienced and highly skilled technical and engineering professionals to work with similar individuals at some of the best businesses in the aerospace and defence sectors.