By Ashley Oerman
Hunting for the perfect place of employment is a lot like dating. Few of us are lucky enough to land our ideal match on the first try, and, after some time, you might start to grow weary of the one you’re with: Things just don’t seem to have the same spark they once did, little annoyances start to really get to you, and you fall into a rut.
So when should you call it quits and when should you hang in there a little longer? We spoke with career expert and former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Kate White, and an editor who has recently switched jobs to get the scoop.
You’re Feeling a Little Too Comfortable
From your perfectly polished Tinder profile to those expertly crafted text messages to keep your new fling interested, a great date can keep you on your toes. The same goes for a great job. One tell-tale sign you’re ready to make change is feeling like you don’t have to look over your shoulder for your boss anymore. “If you feel comfortable calling mom at the office, you might be too comfortable,” says White. “It’s good to feel scared at work,” she says. “When you stop, it means you’re not stretching [to do your best] anymore.”
Kylie McConville, a staff writer for an entertainment website, said she started feeling like this towards the end of her time at her previous position. “I was at the point where my job didn’t challenge me the way I wanted to be challenged,” McConville says. “I could come in and procrastinate for 45 minutes, then do something, and then procrastinate again for another 45 minutes, and so on throughout the day.”
When to stick it out: You might be thinking, who wouldn’t want a job where you’re completely content being the master of your position and having enough downtime to take make a personal phone call or two. Well, White says, the biggest downside of getting too comfy on the job is being vulnerable to staff cuts. “When magazines have to make cuts, and they will, the people who are feeling comfy are the first to go,” she says. Managers aren’t going to cut workers who are giving 110 percent. To get back on track without changing companies, she suggests coming into work with a brilliant idea for a current problem and knocking your boss’s socks off. But, try not to be too obvious about it. Bosses could see right through this sudden change of heart and think you’re more self-centered than a team player.
If the guy you once spent two hours getting ready for doesn’t flinch when he sees you donning a retainer, you might be getting a little too comfy. The same theory applies to your job. Remember the rush of your first assignment on the job? The excitement of taking on a challenge and earning the respect of your boss was thrilling and made you work your tail off. If that same feeling hasn’t reared its head for the past few months, it might be time to hit the road. White says if you can’t wait for the day to end and you find yourself racing through projects you used to like, it probably means you’re ready for a change.
In addition to taking frequent procrastination breaks, McConville said she stopped feeling excitement towards her work. “I always felt like I should be really passionate about what I was doing, and, at the end of the day, wanted to feel like I was giving a 100 percent,” she says. “I really missed the feeling of talking about work outside of the office because you’re proud of it. I got to the point where I felt like I was writing the same things over and over.”
When to stick it out: When you’re bored, it’s hard not to let your eyes wander to the Ed’s online job postings, but the “grass is always greener” mentality might come back to bite you. “There’s no harm in jumping from place to place, but when I’m looking to hire someone, I like to see that someone has stayed at a company for at least 2 years,” White says. The career guru warns that bouncing around can make you look like a commitment-phobe. “I had a woman on our staff at Cosmo once, and even though she was really talented, we had to do a lot of hand holding. After a year, she left, and we were so frustrated.” Besides looking flaky, sticking with a company a little longer could open doors in the future. “It looks great [on a resume] if you had a place to grow and get promoted. It shows your work was considered excellent,” White says. Plus, if your track record has a variety of both short and long stints at different magazines, it looks even better.
There’s Nowhere for You to Go
Even seemingly ideal relationships can come to a fork in the road. Whether he’s not ready to move to your city or never wants to leave the one you two are currently in, it can be hard to keep moving forward when you know the partnership has an expiration date. A relationship with your employer can go the same way. “If you’ve been at your first job for two years, and there’s nowhere to go, it might not be rewarding to stay,” White says.
Even though McConville says she was given a promotion shortly before leaving her job, she still felt that her growth as an editor was stifled. “I was promoted, but nothing about my job changed. There were no new responsibilities that would be considered more senior than what I was already doing,” she says. “I was still doing assistant work, and there was no plan to bring anyone on under me. So, I felt like no matter how many times I was promoted, I would still be the bottom of the totem pole.” Unfortunately, White says, there are many companies where editorial assistants always have to leave because there’s no room on staff for them to be promoted.
When to stick it out: If you haven’t hit the two year mark in your junior level role, try to maximize the rest of your time at your company. “Have a goal in mind,” White says. “Try to stay long enough that you have at least four dazzling things you’ve done at your company.” She says these accomplishments will prepare you for your next big move. However, if you’re considering taking another editorial assistant position just to go someplace else, beware. “If you make a lateral move, you might just end up stuck someplace else,” White says. Instead, she suggests doing your best to excel at your current job and taking every possible opportunity to prepare for what’s next.