The New Year is a time for taking stock and making changes. Here are ten tell-tale signs that your New Year's Resolution...
should be to look for a new job.
Clock watching: when you are counting down the minutes to your next break or until it is time to go home. "One of the major reasons people do that is that the job is not motivating them," says Cheryl Morgan, careers counsellor at Jobsite.co.uk. "You need to think about what excites you. That may be extra responsibility, working on more diverse projects, managing a team or working out of your comfort zone."
Making mistakes: Jonathan Perks, managing director of leadership development at HR consultancy Penna, says that although we all make mistakes from time to time, especially when we start a new job, you should be concerned if you have become clumsy or mistake-ridden in a post you have been doing for a while. That is a sure sign that you are not motivated enough to pay the necessary attention to detail in your work.
Taking it home: being in the wrong job is not just bad for you at work but has a knock-on effect on your personal life, says David Moxon, a psychologist and lecturer at University Centre Peterborough. "People who have a bad day at work do not spend quality time with family and friends when they go home. They tend to argue with their partners, do not interact with their children, and do not sleep well," he says.
Jealousy of friends' jobs: Morgan says warning bells should ring when you feel "your friends have something in their careers that you do not have, whether that is a better salary, the chance to travel more, or more responsibility." She adds that if it is salary or other benefits that make you green-eyed with envy, it is probably worth exploring whether your current employer can satisfy those needs. But if you hanker for a very different kind of job, you will probably need to move elsewhere.
An increase in "comfort" activities: "One of the ways people cope with stress at work is by consuming more alcohol, smoking more cigarettes and eating more 'junk food' than happier workers," says Moxon, who was part of a research team commissioned by Jobsite.co.uk to investigate the impact of stress at work. Similarly, a separate research project carried out for the UK's largest provider of free careers counselling, learndirect Careers Advice, found that unhappy workers "comfort spend" more on items such as clothes, shoes, food, beauty treatments and holidays.
Dreading coming into the office: "That can range from feeling depressed on a Sunday evening to spending the whole weekend fearing Monday morning. You need to work out what you are dreading - the work itself, the people you work with or the commute, perhaps - and see if you can put that right," says Morgan.
Job hunting during working hours: The learndirect survey found around 10% of people spend hours every day looking for a new job. "Once someone has decided to move, they do often take more risks and take less care generally in their current job: coming back from lunch ten minutes late, not taking so much care over their work, or spending more time on personal web surfing," says Morgan. "The danger is that you may get pushed before you are ready to go, and you may not get such a good reference from your employer if you have spent the past couple of months slacking off, which could significantly damage your chances of getting another job."
There but not there: the learndirect survey found a sixth of those interviewed spend time at work daydreaming. Perks points out that people who are happy in their work are fully engaged and involved with it. Warning bells should ring, he says, "if you find your mind wandering - or find yourself even outright daydreaming - when you should be concentrating on the task in hand."
Increased levels of sickness or absenteeism: Morgan says "throwing a sickie" is a sign that you are becoming more blasé and caring less about what your employer thinks about you. However, if you are genuinely ill on a regular basis, this can be a sign that your job is creating unacceptable levels of stress or depression. "Our research confirmed that people who are stressed at work have poor immune systems," says Moxon.
Feeling isolated: when you are getting signals from the people around you that you do not fit in. Perks says this can range from being informally excluded from the social life of your department to receiving lots of negative feedback about your work but no positive comments even when you have clearly done something well. Also, while it is not always easy to talk to your manager if you are unhappy in your role, most of us can usually turn to someone in HR or a more senior colleague. "If you are in an environment where there is no one you can talk to, that is a strong indicator you should look for an employer who will give you the support you need," Morgan says.
What should you do if you recognise these symptoms - or if you just want to give your career an annual health check? Perks suggests a simple three-stage review. "The first step, which helps you focus on what you want to do more of, is to ask, what is working well? The second question to explore is, what would make things even better? That allows you to identify specific ways in which you could improve your working life - whether by getting training or learning to say no to certain requests. The final question is, what am I doing that just is not working that I should stop?"
Reviewing the situation will help you decide if you should be talking to your employer about how your role might change - or if you really do need to jump ship.