I’ve been employed by the same company for over seven years now. Given this, I’m probably not the most qualified person to dispense this advice. I do, however, frequently talk to other employees who are considering seeking other opportunities, and given I work in HR, they are frequently seeking advice from me. So, I guess while I’m not necessarily recently familiar with job searching and interviews myself, I am familiar with giving advice on the matter! Anyway, I’m the one who volunteered to spend my time writing this, so here is my potentially relevant advice on this topic.
You should probably look for a new job if any of the reasons below sound familiar.
- You are bored. Ideally work should be interesting and fulfilling. If you dread going to work each day, and just look at the clock to count down the hours, it may be time to try something new.
- You want to progress in your career, and you aren't seeing an opportunity at your current employer. If you want to advance, either with job title, responsibilities, or compensation, and you don't see an opportunity yet, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.
- Unreasonable work-life balance. Some jobs are just 40 hours a week. If you are in a job where the expectation is you should be constantly checking your phone and putting in significant amounts of time on evenings and weekends, it may be worth looking for other options. In some industries this may be more the norm, but each company varies regarding expectations of working outside of regular working hours. I think it’s also important to recognize that some jobs have busy seasons, or times when a group may be short-staffed and working more hours. I think the important factor here is in both of those situations there is an end in sight! I’m okay working some extra nights or weekends, but I want to know there is a plan in place to ensure that isn’t the norm moving forward.
- It’s not a good culture fit. At one point I moved from the Department of Defense to a 200-person healthcare startup. The cultures could not have been more different, and it was immediately clear to me how much happier I was, and how much more I felt I could be authentically myself at work with the new job. I wasn’t unhappy at the DoD – I started looking when they announced required furloughs back in 2013. I did the math and with the required unpaid time off, I wouldn’t be able to pay both my student loans and my mortgage that year with my reduced salary, so I started looking immediately after that announcement. But while I didn’t feel unhappy at my old job, I was so incredibly amazed with my good fortune at the new job! Even years later I think it’s a good fit for me. If you are in a job that doesn’t resonate with your values, or if you feel you can’t be authentic at work about who you are – it may be worth exploring other opportunities to see if you can find a better fit.
- You don't get along with your manager. Getting along with your boss is important both for your mental health and sanity. So, if you don't get along with your boss, I think it’s time to leave.
- You are dating a coworker or your boss (yikes!). Organizations often have very different policies when it comes to dating a coworker. While it may be exciting, keep in mind one of two things is likely to happen – either you break up, or you continue in a long-term relationship (or get married, or have kids, or both!). Either way, I’d generally advise anyone in this situation to start looking elsewhere. I think it’s fine if you are in the same company, but dating an immediate coworker, or boss, probably isn’t going to do you any favors. Here’s a fun side note to this – it’s not my story, but a story I heard from a friend (who also works in HR). When it came to light that a manager was dating an employee, the manager explained that it was a pretty new relationship but was getting serious. The employee on the other hand was very clear that yes, they were spending some time together, but they definitely were not dating. 😊
- Your commute is a nightmare. Okay, it may seem silly to consider changing jobs due to a long commute but hear me out. I work in the DC area. I’ve had coworkers who commute from West Virginia. That is at two-hour commute – without traffic. They’ll often carpool and have a schedule that has them start work at 7 and leave at 3, so that that two-hour commute doesn’t extend to four. I know that is extreme, but where I live, it’s not uncommon for commutes to take an hour or more. Even living near our metro isn’t always helpful. We live by a metro station, and my husband’s job is by a metro station – but if he takes the metro, the metro ride alone is over an hour (not including walking to and from the metro in both locations). If you have a horrendous and stressful commute, it’s probably time to look for something closer (or consider moving). With Covid recently, I think more organizations are telework friendly, but many will probably expect us all back in the office one day.
- Your health insurance benefits aren’t up to par. I know most people tend to focus on their hourly or annual pay, but benefits are a huge deal! Health insurance is probably most important. If you have a job that does not offer health insurance, I’m of the mindset it’s worth finding a job that offers it (assuming you are in the US). And if you do have it, is it any good? I’ve had friends work at companies that only offer high deductible health plans, which is defined (in 2021 at least) as a plan that has a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family. The out-of-pocket costs for a family maxes out at $14,000 (not including out of network services). For many employees, this just isn’t feasible, and if you think you are likely to incur health related expenses, it could be worth finding another employer with better coverage.
- You are planning to have kids and you don’t have parental leave or an option to use the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Again, this advise is specific to those working in the United States. Not all employees are entitled to parental leave in the US. FMLA is the most common way new parents take leave, but if you work for a business with less than 20 employees, you aren’t entitled to it. Many organizations do not offer any parental leave, and your only option is to take unpaid time off. If you are planning on having kids in the future, I think it’s worth prioritizing a job search to employers that offer some type of paid parental leave program. Having a kid is incredibly stressful, and worrying about a loss of income during the exact time you need to rely on UberEats to deliver you Starbucks in an emergency situation is not ideal. My unscientific take is also that organizations that offer parental leave tend to be more supportive of men and women taking time off for the birth of a child, and I also feel these organizations tend to be friendlier to women in general.
- $$$$$$. If money is all you care about, then yes, you can probably find a job that will pay you more if you look. However, I’d strongly advise against changing jobs for just this reason! If wanting more money causes you to start looking for a new job, that’s pretty normal, but I’d encourage you to think carefully about what you do and don’t like in your current role or with your current employer before you jump ship! I’ve known many people to leave their current job, only to come back a year or two later. Make sure you are jumping into a job you’ll love, not just a job that will pay you more.
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