Are you in a career bunker?
Splitting from an employer isn’t something we do lightly. Sometimes it’s sparked by a particular event that clearly tells us we need to move on. You’ve just been passed over for the promotion that was yours. You’re at constant loggerheads with your boss. The company is laying off staff and looks like it won’t survive.
In most cases, however, the decision to whether to stay or go isn’t triggered by anything so tangible. It’s more that the inner sense of self-worth and fulfilment that we should be extracting from the job isn’t happening. Too often we park these feelings and just keep going: another day, another dollar. We shouldn’t. We’re only allowing a latent discontentment to build up, which will be harder to address the longer we leave it.
So what are the tell-tale behavioural signs in our lives that it might be time to up sticks?
You’re praying for traffic.
None of us relishes the prospect of being stuck in traffic on the morning commute to work, but maybe you’re hoping you never get there? That’s saying “I’d rather be anywhere than in that office!”
You’re not doing the job as well as you can.
In other words, you’re bored. If you’re not passionate about a job you’ll never give it your all. You’ve lost your spark, but you dismiss the thought with platitudes like ‘It’ll do for now”.
You’re starting to dislike those around you.
This can be a sign of you losing faith in the company overall. You just don’t believe in it anymore and the environment is getting to you. You may be resenting colleagues who are enthusiastic when you’re just plain weary.
You’re gaining or losing weight or experiencing anxiety attacks
If you’re consistently experiencing body pain or consistent feelings of melancholy, work stress is impacting on your health. This can be among the more obvious and compelling triggers to make a change.
You forget what you’re good at.
Your skills are not being used in your role and deep down you’re worried you’re losing them. You probably are. This was supposed to be the job where you could complement what you studied with real-world experience.
You can’t say what you learned in the last month.
You’re not being challenged in your role and there’s no programme available to keep you developing professionally. This should be the strongest cue of all to make a move, but it’s not the one that tends to be top of mind with people. Dust down your CV regularly … is it benefiting each year from what you’re doing at work?
See yourself in some of the above? You may be in a career bunker. If you’re a golfer you’ll know: you don’t want to get into a bunker, but you can easily get out of it. There’s enough great jobs out there for you to find one that suits you and your skills. However, as the average golfer will also tell you, it sometimes takes more than one stroke to get out of a bunker. Changing your job involves risks. Be prepared to make mistakes. It’s that fear that keeps most people rooted in their work bunker.
Remember, too, that the dream job that will excite and satisfy us every waking moment may be an illusion. We all have our bad days: don’t act too hastily if a seductive head hunter comes calling on one of those days. Reflect if it’s what you really want and share your thoughts with someone you can trust. Before you do anything, maybe you could ask your employer about a different role or about providing development opportunities.
A fulfilling job is important for a happy life, but often unhappiness is down to areas of our lives outside of work. A new start professionally will get you out of a bunker but it won’t be a panacea for all.
Denise Grant is HR & Office Division Manager with Eden Recruitment and a Chartered Member of the CIPD.