How exactly do you know you've been in the same job too long and you need a career change? It isn't always easy to tell, as we all have highs and lows in the course of our work duties. To some extent, you've got to trust your instincts - sometimes you just know that your career needs a change. In other situations, the reality slowly dawns over an extended period of time; that you're going nowhere fast in your career.
Particularly if you enjoy your job, have good relationships with your colleagues and are engaged with your organisation's mission, it can be easy enough to keep working in the same role indefinitely. But in doing so, there's a danger you'll go stale as a professional, miss out on career development opportunities, and ultimately fail to reach your potential. According to a survey of UK employees, the ideal length of time to stay with an employer is six years. It's increasingly rare for individuals to join an organisation straight out of training and remain with them for their entire career. This may have occurred commonly in years gone by, but the 'job-for-life' is, by and large, a thing of the past.
UK professionals have greater career opportunities than ever before, and greater flexibility to move around and climb the jobs ladder. So if your career stagnates, you may only have yourself to blame. If you've got the skills, talent and experience, all you need to be successful is a little drive and personal ambition. Ask yourself, are you happy to tread water for years on end until you retire, or do you want to make the most of your potential? From time to time, it makes sense to evaluate your current job and your career in general.
Do you feel as if you're heading in the right direction, or has your progress stalled? If any of these indicators apply to you then you will know you need a career change and that it may be time to find a new job:
1. You're bored with your job
If you're doing the same work each day and can effectively complete it in your sleep, then you need a new challenge. There's nothing wrong with doing a job you're good at, but there comes a point where you have to ask a little more of yourself. This means moving up the ladder. If you stay at the same level, without targeting a better job, you're likely to regret in the years to come. Do you really want to be completing the same old duties year-in, year-out, for the same salary, until you finish work?
2. You're no longer learning
If you're no longer gaining new skills and experience in the workplace, it suggests you need a change - whether that's a new job or career is up to you. Should you fail to add new qualifications or develop practical skills over an extended period of time, it will leave a hole in your CV. This could make it more difficult to get a new job in the future, should you set your signs on a different role.
3. Your earnings aren't increasing
If you're continuing to bust a gut for your employer, but receiving little extra in return, it suggests you've been in the same job too long. By failing to secure a promotion or move to a different organisation, you risk under-selling your professional services. The longer you go without a decent pay rise, the greater the likelihood that you're being underpaid.
But how do you know how much you should be earning? Consulting the Robert Half Salary Guide to benchmark what the 'going rate' is for someone doing your job, and compare it to your existing salary. If you're at the lower end of the earnings bracket, you might want to look for a new job - or at the very least, attempt to negotiate a pay rise.
4. You've fallen out with your boss
Do you find it difficult to see eye-to-eye with your boss? If so, this could be a sign that you're getting frustrated at work and your need a change. Perhaps, deep down, you think you could do their job better than they can. Where there are unresolvable tensions, impacting on your job satisfaction and performance.
5. You're being overworked
If you're a more than capable employee, who always delivers results and can be relied upon to do so, there's a danger your employer may start taking you for granted. Your workload may gradually creep up over time, without you receiving anything extra in return. If you appear to be happy working in the same role, your bosses aren't going to want to change anything. It's up to you to make sure this situation doesn't arise, and the best way to do so is to keep pressing for the next career development opportunity.
6. You're not using your skills
If you've got skills you're not using in your current job, this is a waste. Is there not something else you could be doing that would allow you to maximise your potential? Particularly if you have niche skills - those which few other people possess - there may be an organisation out there that is willing to pay handsomely for your services.
7. Your organisation is struggling
If your organisation has issued a profits warning, is closing sites or making people redundant, it might not be in your long term interest to remain in your current job. Should the company go out of business, you may not only find yourself out of work, but end up losing out financially. It's perhaps best to be proactive and jump before you are pushed.
8. You've been headhunted
Should a recruitment agency get in touch inviting you to apply for a particular role, then why not go for it? Employers often hire recruiters to find suitable candidates to fill their vacancies, and if you make it onto their radar, it's a clear sign you could be successful at interview - so why not make a career change? If you've been headhunted, it means you are in a strong negotiating position when it comes to pay and benefits - you may be able to command a premium for joining an organisation.
Are you ready for a change?
You only get one professional life, so it's up to you to make the most of it. You don't necessarily have to focus on salary, or work for major organisations to be happy, but you should try to make the most of the abilities you have. Doing so can help create a more comfortable life for yourself and your family, and ensure you have the motivation to keep giving your all. If you have doubts, then probably you might need a career change, there should be nothing to stop you finding a job you love.