Is it time for a change? Here are a few ways to tell.
It’s safe to say most professionals feel some measure of uncertainty about where they are versus where they think they should be. You don’t need to be having a full-blown quarter-life crisis to wonder whether or not your current job is the job for you. What may have been your dream job right out of school could end up being nothing like you’d expected. Or maybe the position and company you used to love has simply changed since your first day—and now you’re questioning whether or not to stay. It’s also possible you’re considering a total career 180—and that’s normal too.
Not every job needs to be your dream job and your work won’t always be your one true passion, but it’s vital to your professional performance and overall quality of life to find a role and work environment that brings out your best.
“Professionals spend an average of 90,000 hours working over the course of a lifetime—that’s more time than we spend with our loved ones,” says Christina Hall, senior vice president and chief people officer at LinkedIn. “If we’re putting that much effort into it, it’s important to know what you’re in it for.”
Hall insists we’re happiest when what we do aligns with who we are. So it makes perfect sense that the right job for you will have you doing work that excites you (and that you’re good at), working toward an overall mission that resonates with you, and collaborating with people who aren’t exactly the same as you, but who value the same things as you.
“By understanding what makes you happy in your career and beyond, you can establish goals that help you work toward your individual definition of success,” she says.
4 Signs You’re at the Right Job
1. Time Flies at Work
“When you notice the days, months, and years go by so quickly, you’re at a job that’s keeping you challenged and engaged,” she says. “When you’re fully immersed in your work, the day can go by quickly, which is always a good sign.”
2. You’re Learning and Growing
“The more you learn and grow in your career, the more motivated you’ll be to do your job each day,” she says, adding that you yourself have to take some responsibility for “actively cultivating a growth mindset in your career.” Because learning and development provides value beyond their paychecks, more than half of professionals actively seek ways to learn and grow in their careers, according to LinkedIn research (and you should too!).
3. Your Sunday Scaries Aren’t Completely Debilitating
We’re all pretty much stuck with Sunday scaries, unfortunately, and LinkedIn data reveals that more than one-third of professionals experience them. But here’s the thing, Hall says that if you’re able to keep yours in perspective—and maybe even feel a little excited about the upcoming week—it’s “sure sign you’re in the right job.”
4. You Get Along With Your Coworkers
Don’t underestimate the power of great coworkers (or the negative power of iffy coworkers). This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be best friends with everyone you work with, but surrounding yourself with good people who inspire you is huge.
“Ninety-five percent of professionals agree it’s good to be friends with your coworkers,” Hall says. “Workplace friendships can be a valuable resource and a support system to help you achieve your goals—and many workplace friendships do go beyond the workplace and last for a lifetime.”
4 Signs You’re at the Wrong Job
1. The Day Never Ends
“There’s nothing worse than being at a job where you’re constantly checking the time,” Hall says. “If you’re looking at the clock all day, it may be a sign that it's time to look for a new job.” If the thought of spending one more hour in that chair, at that desk, with those people is too miserable for words—it's a major (and probably the most obvious) red flag.
2. You’re No Longer Learning
“A good job should have you constantly learning and developing new skills, and you shouldn’t always feel comfortable when working on big projects and goals,” she says. Don’t really feel challenged anymore? Don’t see any room for career development? It might be time to figure out your next move.
3. You’ve Hit a Career Plateau
Do you feel like you’re coasting—and not in a good way? “A career plateau is when someone feels stagnant in their career—like they’re doing their job on autopilot,” Hall explains. “You'll know you're at a plateau if you’re restless, bored, or constantly avoiding your to-do list.”
4. You’re Constantly Burnt Out
As of 2019, workplace burnout was officially recognized as a medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization. But what is it? You’re always exhausted after work to the point of never wanting to see friends or tackle any personal obligations; you get recurring colds from stress, like, all the time; you’re never not thinking about work. “These can all be signs of workplace burnout,” Hall says. “If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed at work, it may be a sign that you need a day off.”
However, it could be a larger problem than only needing a new job: “If the issue is larger than just needing to take a day off, do not neglect your mental health,” Hall says. “Seek out professional help if you feel you need to.”
Steps to Try Taking Before You Quit
You may be stressed now, but is it really worth quitting your job and starting fresh? If you’re not sure which route to take, Hall suggests talking to friends, family, and mentors for advice. Sometimes airing your concerns, and hearing others’ experiences, can help you reorient your perspective and find clarity.
And before you jump ship, you can “look for resources within your company that may help you stay motivated and find new opportunities there,” Hall says. You may find access to career coaching, learning and development programs, opportunities for mobility—all within that same organization.