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Is it time to change your job?

There are a variety of triggers which precipitate a job change.

In independent surveys, the most common reasons cited are headroom for growth, quality of management, friction with supervisor, respect of peers, burnout, and autonomy. To this we would add two unsaid ones which are better compensation and change of location.

While each of these is relevant, there are 3 very important factors which every professional should be alert to. These are stagnation of professional skills, declining financial health of employer, and ongoing friction with your supervisor.

Each of these is an important trigger to look for alternative roles, within or outside your current employer.

Are your skills relevant in the current and future economy?

Your professional skills are your greatest asset. They are the asset which you monetize through your career. Derivatively, it is critical to ensure that they are relevant to the job market at any time.

Ensuring that your skills are relevant to the current economy and jobs is the first criteria to assess in continuing or changing jobs.

If you are keeping up with economic and industry trends in your profession, you will pick signals which will help you make this judgement. Here are some examples:

  • Self-healing technologies are being used for IT infrastructure break/fix activities – do you want to continue in a job handling manual trouble tickets?

  • Ford has commissioned its first fully robotic auto assembly line – is it time to learn a trade different from assembly line work – perhaps maintenance of equipment?

  • Retail store sales have been shrinking the last 5 years and forecasts are downbeat – if you are a store worker, it is time to move to a different industry - healthcare?

  • Development of e-commerce platforms is stagnating but there is a lot of buzz around cybersecurity – is it time to get onto Coursera, pick up new skills and make a shift?

At all times in your career, keep you antenna up to gauge if your job and skills continue to have relevance or are becoming less so because or industry trends, automation, outsourcing, or regulation. If they are, time to move on.

Are you working for the right firm?

Firms which are growing have an incentive to invest in enhancing the skills of their human. As an employee, these investments help in training you in the current practices in your trade, and those which are emerging. Growing companies also create new opportunities for new and enhanced roles.

In contrast, if your firm is shrinking, investments in people are likely to dry up and deprive you of the opportunity to learn contemporary skills and practices in your profession. It also limits the opportunities available to grow into roles offering enhanced professional challenges.

  • Only 5% of startup's scale and become successful in the early stages of an industry.

  • In the early 2000's there were dozens of independent Indian IT services companies, each growing 25+%. In the last few years, industry growth has slowed and, 2 of the top 20 have merged into larger ones and 5 more have PE firms as majority shareholders.

  • No too long back, we would walk into a mall and see multiple department stores. Today the last one standing is Walmart while the other two (Kmart and Sears) continue to shrink.

If your employer is not growing (and after the start-up investment stage not growing profits), investments in personnel are likely to decline too – putting you at risk of not getting skill enhancements which keep you current in your profession.

Are you getting along with your supervisor?

Across multiple surveys, the inability to get along with the immediate supervisor comes up as a top 3 reason for leaving a job. Aside of the personal dynamic, supervisors determine the scope of your role, the autonomy, trainings, job enhancements and compensation changes. These have both short and long term impact on your career health.

If you are experiencing that your supervisor is stifling your job scope or growth, treat it as a red flag and explore alternatives.

However, before sending that terminal email to HR, asses the health of your company.

Is your organization growing and investing in professional skills and aspirations of its employees? If yes, these are big positives for your career and you might want to consider continuing to work in the company with a different supervisor or department.

If that option is not available, look for a comparable role in a growing organization and move one. Rather than getting burnt out with a hostile supervisor, walk out on your own two feet than be carried out on a gurney!

Keep swinging!

References - LinkedIn survey of 1000 professionals; TINY News – Employee retention – What Works – Sep 25, 2015; DRInc – Top 10 reasons why good people quit; – Aug 22, 2015 – Top 10 reasons…​

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