Career Advice Career Doctor

How to Know When to Go

If you’re uncertain whether or not to stay in your job, Elaine Lam — Managing Director, Robert Half Hong Kong, looks at eight classic signs that can show it’s time to go.

Change is a natural part of our professional lives, and there is a variety of reasons why a job you once loved may no longer be right for you. A shift in lifestyle, feeling you’ve reached the limits of career progression with your current employer, or just plain boredom can all be drivers to hand in your resignation.

But changing jobs is a major step that calls for careful consideration. In addition, being able to work through challenges rather than just quitting, is an essential part of your career progression.

This highlights the value of trying to resolve any issues with your employer before you jump ship. Simple solutions may be available that can reignite your passion for the role.

Sometimes the challenges aren’t so easily solved, or you may be undecided about the next steps to take. That’s when it pays to know the eight key signs that you could be better off moving on. Here’s what to look for.


1. You’re bored at work

Workplace boredom is surprisingly common. Yet Hong Kong’s workforce experiences the lowest rates of boredom globally. An international survey by specialised recruitment firm Robert Half found employees in Hong Kong experience boredom, on average, less than three hours each week.

The same study found the chief causes of workplace boredom are lack of challenge, too many meetings, and uninteresting work. If these sound familiar, speak to your manager about opportunities to take on new responsibilities and challenges, or maybe skipping a few meetings. If your requests are rejected, the best way to get out of the rut may be by moving on.


2. Your job doesn’t fit your lifestyle

Our lives don’t stand still for long, and a change in lifestyle can make it difficult to achieve work-life balance.  It’s worth discussing flexible working arrangements with your manager. If it’s not possible to reach mutual agreement, it may be time to start exploring new job options.


3. Your career scope is limited

A job that initially provided career growth and opportunities to expand your skillset can stagnate over time. If your job offers limited scope for professional development, speak to your manager about the possibility of further training or other options to expand your skills.

If you still feel there are insufficient avenues to progress, seeking a new job could help you along your career path.


4. You dread going to work

Few situations can be worse than a job that leaves you stressed and anxious. A telltale sign is counting down the days until the weekend, and by Sunday afternoon dreading the thought of heading back to work on Monday.

There are ways to overcome the ‘Sunday blues’. If you’re completely overwhelmed by the volume of work, for instance, speak to your manager about the availability of additional resources.

If your unhappiness reflects the broader workplace environment, it can be wise to find a new job before the negative emotions take a serious toll on your health and wellbeing.


5. You didn’t get that promotion

While it’s always disappointing to miss out on a promotion, there can be good reasons why you were overlooked. Perhaps you lack experience in a key area, and your employer may be willing to take steps to remedy this. Discuss the situation with your manager, but if nothing appears on the horizon, your best option may be to seek opportunities for advancement elsewhere.


6. Your efforts aren’t valued

A simple “thank you” or “well done” can go a long way to helping you stay happy and motivated. In busy workplaces these words of praise and appreciation don’t always get said especially when managers are facing considerable time pressures.

Nonetheless, if your efforts continually go unnoticed, your morale and motivation can start to decline. Under these circumstances, it can make sense to move on.


7. You don’t get on with your boss

In the course of your career, you can expect to work with inspiring leaders, who bring out the best in you, motivating and mentoring you to reach your full potential.

Unfortunately, not every boss fits this description.

If your boss is trying to micromanage everything you do, is constantly critical or makes unreasonable demands, it’s likely you face a very challenging situation.

If you can’t see ways to build a more positive working relationship, it may be worth approaching your HR department about a transfer to another department. If you’ve tried every tactic, and the situation hasn’t improved, it may be time to hand in your resignation.


8. You’ve been approached by a recruiter

Being contacted by a recruiter can be flattering. The important thing is to maintain an open mind. Understand exactly what the new role entails, and weigh up the pros and cons of the position relative to your current job. If everything stacks up in favour of the new role, moving on can open doors to the next exciting phase of your career.

Changing jobs can be a chance to revitalise your career, enjoy an uptick in salary or experience more flexible working conditions. The key is to think things through and make an informed decision — so that you can be leaving is the right step for you and your career.