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Know When to Leave a Job

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Bottom Line/Personal: There are a lot of reasons why people stay in jobs that they don’t necessarily love, but how do you know when it’s the right time to actually shift a career? What kind of question should you be asking yourself?

Nancy Collamer: Yeah, that’s a really great question because it’s something many people struggle with. Surveys show that there are many people who stay in jobs a lot longer than they want to.

Bottom Line: You have to pay the mortgage. Fact is the fact; there are many people that really are golden handcuffed to their jobs.

Collamer: Right, right. And it also takes a lot of work and effort to go find another job, and people are working very hard these days. Finding the time to do that is challenging. So, the first question I think that you need to ask is, “Is this job negatively impacting my health?” Because if that’s the case, you need to get out.

Bottom Line: To that point, though, some people – how will they know? I mean, it sounds kind of crazy; it’s easy if I work in some manufacturing facility or construction, I know that it’s giving me a bad back. What other kinds of things might be affecting their health that they may not be putting together?

Collamer: Look for signs that you’re under undue stress. Things like you’re not able to sleep at night. I’m not talking about one or two nights; I’m talking about consistently not able to sleep at night. If you’re having a lot of muscle pain because you’re constantly tensing up. Stomach issues, oftentimes stress comes out that way.

You really need to spend some time getting back in touch with your body. “Am I experiencing certain ills and tensions that I don’t normally feel here?” The stress will take its toll. And again, we’re not talking about periodic stress; we’re talking about extreme stress, and if so you really need to make a concerted effort to change your situation.

Bottom Line: Some of those things also could be asthma, diabetes that’s not in control if you’re diabetic where your blood sugar’s out of control. Could be hives. There’re all sorts of stress-driven conditions that somebody might have that might get out of control.

Collamer: Yeah. So, of course, if you do decide to make a career change, the reality is that you will experience at least a temporary reduction in salary during most career changes. Not always. If you stay within your field, you might be able to find something that even pays you more. But if you’re truly talking about a career change and shifting into a new area, there’s probably going to be a drop in salary.

Bottom Line: They have to consider the financial impact of that career change.

Collamer: You do. You do. If you’re in a situation where maybe you’re just bored or somewhat unhappy, it may make sense for you to try to set away as much money as you can so that you can make that move down the road in 6 months, a year. You really need to think about that.

Bottom Line: Okay, so health, money. What else do they need to consider?

Collamer: Another thing you need to consider is lifestyle. You really need to think about, if you’re going to make a career shift, is that going to match up with the realities of your lifestyle situation? For example, let’s say you’re a new parent, and the job that you’re interested in doing is going to require a lot of travel. That may or may not be a great move for you at that point in time. So you really want to spend some time thinking about both what are your lifestyle needs, and what will be different in this new job?

And finally, what I would say to people is really think about what is bugging you about the current job? Because there might be some relatively small changes that you could make. Maybe you need to speak with your boss about going to a telecommuting arrangement one day a week. That might be enough to let the pressure out, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the job more again.

So before you just get so aggravated that you have to run out the door, really spend some time thinking about, “What’s going on here? What are the changes that are needed? And could I make the changes right here and now to make my situation a lot better?”

Bottom Line: Yeah, that’s a really interesting point because so many people don’t want to have those difficult conversations, but if you speak up for yourself, you might really make a difference.

Collamer: Yeah, and you could turn a lousy situation into a much better situation. You may decide you actually want to stay.

Bottom Line: Great advice, Nancy Collamer.

Collamer: Thank you.

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Nancy Collamer, a career counselor, speaker, and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. She also writes a semi-monthly career column for NextAvenue.com (PBS) and Forbes.com. MyLifestyleCareer.com

Date: January 30, 2015 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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