Careers

5 signs it's time to get a new job

Are you feeling stuck? It may be time for a change.
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Are you feeling stuck? It may be time for a change.

We all have those days when the alarm clock fills you with dread, your commute feels like your last taste of freedom, and you spend the workday looking up cat memes on the internet. What happens when that "off" day starts becoming every day? When your only reprieve is the two-for-one breakfast special at the diner across the street and Friday night drinks?

The average American spends eight hours working every weekday, which adds up to 2,080 hours every year. Do you want to spend them in a job you hate?

"As humans, we have [a limited] amount of time on Earth," says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at careers website Indeed. "And I want to be as happy as possible."

Here are five signs it might be time for a new job or even a new career:

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke
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Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke

You start to feel dissatisfied

If you start to hate the sound of your cube mate's typing or the color of the corporate wallpaper, that could be a warning sign.

If the little things are taking up a lot of your mind space, it's time to pay attention, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at jobs website Monster.com. It could signal a bigger problem: Job dissatisfaction may be manifesting itself.

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You're unfocused and inattentive at work

If you frequently find yourself spinning your wheels at work, it may be a sign that your role is no longer challenging and is becoming mechanical, says Wolfe. This can create a bad cycle where you accomplish less in the office and spend more time outside of work worrying about your output.

One factor alone usually doesn't mean much, but when many things begin to add up over time, it often means change is needed, says Salemi. Take stock if every day begins to feel repetitive and you can't seem to muster the motivation you once had.

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You aren't interested in someday taking your boss's job

Let's face it, everyone is a little competitive. And who doesn't want a bigger title and paycheck? But if the prospect of someday sitting in your boss's chair makes you shudder rather than smile, it may be a sign that it's time to move into a different job or career altogether.

"If your boss is not going anywhere, and you don't aspire to have a director or manager-type role, then there's really nowhere for you to go," says Salemi. This might mean that your job is hitting a plateau or that you're bored with your responsibilities. "If you're not interested in getting promoted, then you wonder, Why am I working so hard?"

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Detail from screen of Split - The Antisocial app

You aren't even interested in the company anymore

Sometimes new management takes the company in a different direction, and it's no longer aligned with your values. Sometimes new employees come in, shifting the culture through sheer numbers. Maybe the company decides to pursue a new philosophy you're just not comfortable with. Whatever the reason, it's a major red flag if you feel like what you do no longer matters.

Things can change over time, but a key warning is when "you don't agree with the moral aspect of the company," says Salemi. If you no longer believe in the company's mission or your role in it, it may be time to look for an out.

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You're reading this article

Just the fact that you've read to this point might be a sign that you're ready for something else. Don't wait for a big blowout or dramatic breakup, says Salemi. Listen to that inner voice and start planning your next move now.

"Have an honest conversation with yourself," Wolfe says. "Are things going to change? And if they are, what's the roadmap to achieving those goals?" Even if you ultimately decide your current position is still worthwhile, the exercise will help to sharpen your focus on what you really want from your career.

If you think you may need a bigger career change, understand that switching fields will likely require a significant amount of time and effort and may hit your bank account. Expect to earn less and take a step down in title, says Wolfe. Ask yourself: "Am I willing to take a few steps back to get into the industry I want to get into?"

Before you take the leap, learn about the job and industry by connecting with an insider. Start with your alma mater, says Salemi. Many schools can help graduates connect to others in almost any industry.

"Having that face-to-face conversation and being able to ask real questions and get real answers can help you think of things you may not have thought about," says Wolfe.

Whether you make a small change — like shifting to a different role in the same company or to the same role in a different company — or a big one, experts say you shouldn't wait too long to act.

It's your life and your career, says Wolfe. "We all own our own destiny."

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