6 warning signs you need a new job

Considering making a move from your current job? These signs could mean now’s the time.

Conventional career wisdom was once to stick with one job as long as possible. If you had a history of job hopping or gaps of unemployment on your resume, the thinking went, potential employers would consider you a risky investment.

Fast forward to 2021, and people were quitting their jobs left and right. In August 2021, 2.9% of Americans (that’s 4.3 million people) quit their jobs. It was the highest quits rate since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data in 2000. 

What is the Great Resignation?

More than a blip on the radar, the surge of job-quitting that began in 2021 is known as the Great Resignation. Economists and organizational psychologists suspect that the pandemic caused many people in the workforce to reevaluate their careers and the role that work plays in their lives. There’s no doubt that the Great Resignation is here, and it has employers scrambling to fill vacant positions. It also has more employees asking themselves, “Should I quit my job?” While that’s only a question you can answer for yourself, here are six warning signs you need a new job:

The Great Resignation is here, giving workers more leverage to change jobs.

1. Your salary has been stagnant 

If you think the raise you deserve is well overdue, it could be time to switch jobs. You can refer to recent studies on salary increases to know how your pay is keeping up with inflation and your industry. Research has shown that people who leave their jobs for new roles tend to enjoy larger pay increases than those who stay put.

When times are good and jobs are plentiful, it can pay to quit a job that isn’t fulfilling your earnings potential and move on to a more lucrative opportunity. But when the economy is slumping, jobs might not be so easy to come by. So before you quit your job in the middle of a downturn in search of a higher salary, make sure you know how to find a job in a recession first.

2. Your employer is having money problems

One surefire warning sign that you need a new job? “If your paycheck suddenly starts becoming irregular,” says Sandy Smith, a senior certified human resources professional working in corporate human resources. It’s a clear indication of cash flow issues within the company, she adds.

Smith, who also founded a personal finance education site, says this is one of the major signs it’s time to change jobs.

If your company is having money trouble you may be asking yourself, Should I quit my job?

“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs,” she says, “and you should immediately jump ship.”

If your employer is starting to cut benefits or lay people off, Smith suggests that it might be time to ask “Should I quit my job?” It may also be time to financially prepare for a job transition. While one layoff or cut may not be definite signs it’s time to change jobs just yet, Smith says to keep an eye on it.

“Layoff after layoff indicates a serious issue, and you should never take for granted that your job is safe,” she says.

“Saving money by not paying employees is the death knell of a company on its last legs, and you should immediately jump ship.”

Sandy Smith, founder of a personal finance education site.

3. Your career is not advancing

If you feel like you’ve gone as far as you can go with your current company, it could make sense to participate in the Great Resignation and quit your job. 

“If you are upwardly mobile but you have no opportunity for advancement within the company, it might just be time to move,” Smith says.

And because you alone are in charge of your career, it’s essential to be proactive, Smith says. That means you can’t wait for your manager to tell you that you need to move on to advance in your career. 

So, if you find yourself lacking options, it may be a warning sign you need a new job. Finding a new employer amid the Great Resignation could be the best way to advance. Smith also points out that taking a new job in this scenario will likely allow you to increase your earning potential.

4. You’re not busy

It can be difficult to identify the signs it’s time to change jobs or know when to quit your job. A slow day here and there can be nice, but not having enough to do at your job could actually be an indication that it’s time to move on, Smith says. She knows from experience. She has not only seen people let go as a result of inactivity but was also laid off herself when her position was no longer needed.

“Every job has cycles, but if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs day in and out for months, your position might just not be needed,” she says. “It’s only a matter of time before your manager realizes it and your head count is cut.”

Her advice if you experience this warning sign you need a new job? Take action. Either find ways to become useful by volunteering for projects or helping your co-workers with their load, or take it as one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

After all, with so many people quitting their jobs during the Great Resignation, there’s an excellent chance that a company would love to hire you

With so many people quitting their jobs during the Great Resignation, you may find a company who would love to hire you.

5. You aren’t fulfilled in your current job

Sometimes answering “Should I quit my job?” has more to do with fulfillment than money. According to a 2021 study, 70 percent of employees say their sense of purpose is defined by their work. If that need for fulfillment isn’t being met, it may be one of the ways you know it’s time to quit your job.

Take the story of Tara Falcone, who spent four years working as an investment analyst on Wall Street. She enjoyed what she did, but she wasn’t exactly feeling fulfilled by it. She spent her days helping high net worth clients manage their money, but more and more she wanted to help people who came from backgrounds similar to her own grow their wealth.

This realization helped her to answer the question, “Should I quit my job?” with a resounding “yes”—and ultimately gave her the motivation to quit her job and start her own investment firm.

In August 2021, 2.9% of Americans (4.3 million people) quit their jobs.

U.S., Bureau of Labor Statistics

“Coming from a humble, blue-collar background, I yearned to find a way to use the skill set I had acquired on Wall Street to help people like my friends and family,” Falcone says.

Even if you identify a lack of fulfillment as a sign it’s time to change jobs, leaving the security of a regular paycheck is difficult. Deciding to quit your job can be even harder when, like Falcone, you’re making a pretty hefty sum. Yet, money was not the biggest factor in her decision to leave her job. Ultimately, other things, such as helping an underserved community and having more personal time, contributed more greatly to her fulfillment.

“The money was good, but not good enough to tie me down, nor more than I thought I could ever make doing something else,” Falcone says. “I grew up without money, so I wasn’t chasing it. And I knew that a big shiny paycheck would never fulfill me on its own.”

6. Your job is negatively affecting you

A final way you know it’s time to quit your job: It’s negatively affecting your life. Of course, this may look differently to different people. Health problems—mental and physical—can be warning signs you need a new job. Some suspect that hospitality workers who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation were burned out. In Falcone’s case, the job started getting in the way of her personal life.

“My work started negatively affecting the limited time I spent with family,” she says. “As an investment analyst, you don’t really get true vacation time when the market is open.”

Falcone recalled going home for Christmas and still needing to be available for work via phone and email. Eventually, she felt like it became too intrusive, and that was when she knew it was time to quit her job for something more balanced and fulfilling.

It’s time to find a new job

If you're not fulfilled with the work you do, it could be a sign you should quit your job.

Still asking yourself, “Should I quit my job?” Well, if any of these warning signs sound familiar, it might be time to. Dust off that resume and start reaching out to your contacts. Now that the Great Resignation has eliminated the stigma that once came with switching jobs, you have far less to worry about should you decide to quit your job and find a new one. 

Are you considering quitting your job and pursuing a new line of work? Be sure to check out these tips to prepare for a career change first.

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