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Career Connection: 10 Ways to Know It's Time to Change Jobs


By Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM,


Getting axed, sacked, canned, or fired hurts. It does nothing for your self-esteem and it doesn't look great on your resume. You're always better leaving your position on your own terms. But how can you tell when your job may be on the line? Here are 10 things to look for.

  1. There's a path worn in the carpet between your cubicle and the corner office. If you're always being called into the principal's office, something is wrong. Either you don't get it, or your boss doesn't get you. When there's this kind of communication breakdown, it's time to start looking for a new job.
  2. They're storing things in your office. When they start storing anything--from office supplies to janitorial supplies--in your office, your days are probably numbered. That's not the way a good employer treats a valued employee. If your work is truly valuable to your employer, expect compliments, good reviews, and additional compensation. Most of all, expect respect for your work area.
  3. You're asked to share your office or cubicle with an intern, a guest, a printer, a community workstation, archived materials, or anyone or anything that isn't directly related to helping you do your work. Or your cubicle gets moved away from your group or to a noisy location (such as next to a network printer or copy machine).
  4. Your boss keeps calling you Skippy when your name is Bob. Oh, yeah, you're a goner. When your boss can't remember your name, or starts calling you by the wrong name, consider the obvious. Also, when you're no longer asked to join department meetings, your boss is definitely trying to tell you something about the future.
  5. Your co-workers start avoiding you--even in subtle ways. Office gossip spreads like wildfire and, all-too-often, everybody knows you are "on the list" before you do. So, if your workplace friends start to shun you, ask people if they've heard anything. A good friend will tell you. A lousy friend will run screaming from the room. Either way, it's time to move on.
  6. 6. The HR director knows the names of your spouse, kids, and dog. Unless you work in a small office where the human resources director is also the CEO, custodian, and customer service rep, you have to wonder why, all of a sudden, the people in HR have pulled your file. Be suspicious. Very suspicious.
  7. You read a help wanted ad describing your job placed by your company. Employers don't like to be left with holes to fill in the company roster, so many hire replacements before the hammer falls. If you happen to run across your job description in the classifieds, in an ad placed by your company, keep looking. You're probably in the market for a new job--which was why you were reading the help wanted section in the first place. A related sign--you're asked to train a new hire on to do your job.
  8. Your supervisor warns against taking that second mortgage. S/he's trying to do you a favor. The decision to let you go may be made at the supervisory level, or by some faceless bigwig back at HQ. In either case, take the hint when it's offered. But most often these days, the supervisor has been informed about mandatory staff cuts, has been agonizing over losing you. feels just awful about it, and can do nothing to save you. So be alert to little hints about saving money, cutting back, looking for other work, and so on. Your supervisor may be banned from directly helping you, and is looking for ways of doing so without seeming to do so.
  9. Your boss tells you about a career seminar, new job search Website, or similar job seeker's tool. This is another manifestation of the previous sign. It's not as subtle, and it's a very clear signal that you need to get active about moving on.
  10. You've missed work. You may be within the limits of your sick days, but your absences have caused problems. Even if you've worked remotely and kept up with your workload, your coworkers, supervisor, and others may perceive you as a slacker. Reality and perception don't have to be in agreement for people to start talking viciously about you behind your back and label you in ways that undermine you. If you can't help but miss work, be sure to address this with your supervisor and coworkers--perhaps e-mailing or calling in for updates even if you are sick. If you've taken a lot of "mental health" days and that's not normal where you are, you've probably already poisoned the well.

Getting sacked should not come as a complete surprise. There are usually signs that things aren't right at work. Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of trouble. A change in company ownership, a new supervisor, a new set of company procedures. Any dramatic change can often lead to layoffs, belt-tightening, and "Good Luck" parties.

Get proactive when you see the writing on the wall.

  • Have a professional work with you to update your resume. Most resumes are terrible, and do more to keep you from getting a job than they do to help you get one. Fact: the people with the worst resumes are the ones least likely to seek qualified assistance. Instead, they plod forward with their "masterpiece" resumes and lose out on one job opportunity after another.
  • Locate a recruiter who will work with you to "bring buyer and seller together." Steer clear of "headhunters" who simply forward resumes and collect a commission. You want a real matchmaker who is more interested in making an accurate match than in making a quick buck.
  • Network. The best way to do this is to volunteer for a committee in your trade group or professional organization. Getting involved in putting on a conference, seminar, or other event shows what you're made of, and it gets your name out there. Offer to speak at an event, write an article for a trade or professional publication, serve on a panel, and so on. Networking doesn't mean handing out business cards or resumes at an event in your industry. It is a long-term proposition that involves building relationships by doing.

If you can leave on your own terms, with your new job already in place, the transition from one job to the next may even benefit your ego and your bank account.

Teena Rose operates a prominent and professional resume writing service, Resume to Referral. She’s authored several career books, including "20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer", "How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book", and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."


Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM
Resume to Referral
7211 Taylorsville Road, Office 208
Huber Heights, OH 45424
Phone: (937) 236-1360
Fax: (937) 236-1351

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