By Jessica Long (’05), Assistant Director, Career and Professional Development, Wake Forest University

analog clock in train station

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

At some point, we all find ourselves wondering if it’s time to leave our job. I’ve had conversations with several young alumni about this over the past few months. So, how do you know if you should hang in there or create an exit strategy? While it is ultimately up to you whether to stay or go, thinking through some questions might be helpful in guiding your decision-making process.

What’s your gut telling you?

Some people refer to this as your intuition. Whatever the case may be, listen to that voice inside your head or pay attention to that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. If it’s hinting that you need to make a change, take note. Often these hunches aren’t enough to go on when it comes to making big life decisions, but they are worth acknowledging.

Are you using your skills?

This could manifest itself in a variety of ways. Do you feel like you do the same thing over and over every single day? When was the last time you felt like you were making the most of what you’re capable of doing? Are you learning? Does management acknowledge your skills and tap you for projects? Have you been passed over for a promotion? When was the last time you felt like you were using the skills you have?

Have your responsibilities shifted?

Have your duties changed? If so, are you being compensated? Sometimes there may be justification for this but if you’re not sure why you’re doing more and not making more, it might be time to make the ask for more. If it’s not happening now, is there a reason why and a plan for when? You want to be paid for the work you’re actually doing.

Is there opportunity for growth?

There isn’t a point in spending too much time in a place where there is no room for advancement. Now, if you don’t know this to be true, do some asking before you jump to conclusions. Have you researched options or asked your supervisor and colleagues? What opportunities exist for you to move up within the organization? You want to be in a place that fosters, supports and encourages your growth as a professional—not doing the same job every single day without any opportunity for change. If this is the case, it may be time for you to create some change of your own.

Are you unhappy more than you’re happy?

If you’re spending more of your time feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, miserable, or bored than you are feeling happy, fulfilled, pleased, and challenged, that’s probably not a good sign. Do you wake up dreading going to your job? Or worse, do you go to bed dreading waking up and going to your job? Are you cranky when you get to work? These signs are pointing you toward change. Every single day may not be the most amazing day ever, but the good days should certainly outweigh the bad.

Does your work have meaning to you?

Do you believe in your organization? Do you believe in what they’re doing? Do you believe in how they’re doing it?  If your answer is “no” to these questions, thriving and succeeding in your current role is going to become more and more difficult the longer you stay. Find an organization with which your values are aligned if you’re not in one now.

Why did you read this?

Last but certainly not least, I’m guessing there is a reason why you read this. Did you stumble upon it randomly? Did it catch your eye for some reason? I bet you know why, so I’ll let you answer that question on your own.