Here’s today’s Q&A question, and it’s an interesting one:
“I’m stuck in a job I don’t like, but I haven’t been in it very long. How do I know when it’s OK to go? And what if I have trouble finding something better?”
Wanting something better for yourself is always commendable. With that, though, there can sometimes come the guilt of leaving behind a boss or co-workers to whom you don’t want to be disloyal.
You have enough anxiety in your life—there’s no sense in worrying over something you can’t do anything about. This is your life, and your needs come first. Everyone understands that. People don’t stay in jobs forever.
With that being said, there are some things to consider about how your resume will look if you’re a constant job hopper.
It wasn’t that long ago that people frequently got jobs with companies and stayed there their whole lives. It just doesn’t work that way anymore, and employers know that.
If people get at least three years out of you, then they typically feel like they got their time and money’s worth.
There’s something kind of magical about that number; if you were at a job that long, people make the natural assumption that you left because you did all you could (i.e. you learned everything and got bored) or you were looking for a faster way to advance your career, which pretty much everyone respects.
But if you get to the point where one more day makes you want to join the lemmings and jump off a cliff, there’s no reason to stay somewhere that hurts you.
A few blips like that on your resume are fine, just be prepared to talk about why you left. (In fact, you really need to be prepared to talk about why you left every job—in your interviews, you will almost assuredly be asked to walk everyone you talk to through your resume.)
Once you’ve made the decision to leave, don’t burn any bridges—stay focused on your work and engaged with your colleagues. Job searches can go on for weeks or months; don’t check out mentally and lose a potential reference.
As you probably know, networking is a great resource for finding a new job and getting an interview. You may even hear about a job opening before it’s posted online.
When you find a job opening that sounds like your dream job, or it’s at least better than what you’re doing now, go for it! If you don’t meet all the experience or education requirements, apply anyway.
Use your resume as an opportunity to show the hiring manager how the experience you do have will work. Hiring managers sometimes overlook the listed requirements for a candidate with a ton of potential or interesting experience.
Plus, you may even get lucky in another way. If in your cover letter you make a compelling case for why you want this job, the company may actually have another position open that you’re not aware of that would help you get your foot in the door. Here’s proof: Twice Jennifer has applied for a job only to get something else she was much better suited for and liked a lot better.
When you know it’s time for you to leave, just do it with as much grace as possible. Go after what you want, and be open to opportunities coming from any and every direction.
Here’s a great quote: “Picture yourself in your mind’s eye of already having achieved this goal.” — E. Nightingale