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How to know if you’ve outgrown your job

Posted on Sep 16, 2021

Deciding when to move on from your job is not always easy. Most people who dislike their jobs are compelled to leave pretty quickly. It makes sense if you’re really unhappy and restless. However, if you’re comfortable in your job and perhaps you’ve been there for some time, the decision might not be as clear cut.

Here are some things to consider.

Are you stuck?

Many species of shark need to keep swimming in order to survive. Within your workplace, it’s more rewarding to be like a shark, with a sense of purpose and momentum, than a clam, spending your time stuck in the sand. Growth and learning are essential factors for job satisfaction. 

If you feel you’re being challenged and accomplishing things at work, then your job becomes more than simply a means for making money to live. You gain a sense of purpose and achievement.

Given the large percentage of our lives we spend working, you need to ask yourself if you are getting enough job satisfaction and if not, look at other possibilities either within or outside your current organisation.

Most people are aware that future employers look favourably on workers who have demonstrated job stability rather than those that have changed jobs every few months for years. However, long stretches of time in a single role and workplace aren’t always perceived positively by future employers either. Employers may appreciate the loyalty, but worry that the candidate might be resistant to growth and development.

Do you value your work and organisation?

A sense of belonging greatly contributes to our work satisfaction and happiness, as does a sense of enthusiasm for the work you do. There are numerous reasons why we end up working for particular organisations – money and experience usually rank highly. However, it’s important to also ask yourself if you value the work.

Ask yourself what motivated you take the job initially and whether you still have this motivation. Maybe you took on the job to gain experience so that you could move into a sector you’re more passionate about but still haven’t gotten around to looking for other work. Or perhaps you were excited about your workplace initially but have come to realise the role and/or organisation aren’t what you were wanting.

Every job has it negatives and it would be unrealistic to think that a workplace could tick all your desired boxes for job satisfaction. However, your happiness is too important to be compromised by putting up with a job that doesn’t contribute to your wellbeing and align with your values. 

What is the resignation sweet spot?

Of course, the answer of when to leave your job is going to be unique for every individual and their circumstances. However, unless you’re terribly unhappy, the very first stage of your job is usually not the ideal time to leave as there is still learning and growth to be had. 

Once you’ve been in a job a bit longer, you may have reached a degree of mastery of the work. This can be satisfying and comfortable for a time BUT this can also be the stage in which you may have plateaued and could start to experience boredom. It’s best not to get stuck in this situation as it usually leads to job dissatisfaction in the long run. 

You can mitigate against this in a number of ways. If you value the work you do and the organisation you work for, look to internal structures that may be in place to help with your development and career progression. 

However, it may be the right time to resign if upon reflection you’re not feeling satisfied with the work you do or the organisation. Or perhaps you’re simply feeling ready for a change and new challenge. 

Working Australians across numerous sectors are in a fortunate position right now, because unemployment is low, and the employment market is favourable to candidates. So, it makes sense to explore your options and resist getting stuck in a job that isn’t satisfying you.