All jobs have ups and downs. While staying in a bad job too long can negatively impact your career, so can throwing in the towel too early. Not sure how to navigate your next professional move? Here is one writer’s advice to her fellow millennials on how to determine whether you should stay or go.
Most of today’s employed 20-somethings see their current job as a stepping stone — it’s fine for now, but they’ll only stick around until something better comes along. We’re young and we’ve got a few decades’ worth of career opportunities waiting to be taken. Why shouldn’t we experience everything we can before we’re expected to settle into longer tenures in our 30s and 40s?
The “job hopper” mentality that some millennials occupy is rooted in the same approach that we, as a generation, often take to relationships. When you start out in both the dating scene and the workforce, you’re not really sure what you’re looking for. You tend to take the first opportunities that come along, even if they aren’t really right for you. But as you go, you learn what you want and don’t want, and if it’s not working out, you look for a better opportunity and move on.
The hope in your career, of course, is that you will eventually land the job of your dreams and stick it out until you retire (or, as is increasingly the case, start your own business). The “dream” job you envisioned as a young, hopeful undergraduate may not exist, but as your career progresses, you’re likely to find a position that satisfies your criteria for a “good” job.
So how can you tell that a position is more than just a resume builder to get you to the next stage? While the specifics of an ideal job vary from person to person, I believe there are a few basic elements that most employees want out of their workplace. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to discover if your current job just might be worth keeping.
Do I have a good relationship with my direct supervisor?
Your relationship with your manager can really make or break a work experience. This person directly oversees your daily responsibilities and plays a huge role in your career progress within the company. You don’t have to be best friends with your boss, but the ability to have open, mutually respectful communication and a clear understanding of each other’s expectations goes a long way in terms of your job satisfaction.
Do I feel like a valued member of my team?
When you work on a team, you don’t want to feel like your coworkers are getting all the credit while you’re left behind. At a good job, you’ll feel a sense of camaraderie, and everyone will be appropriately acknowledged for their efforts. As with your boss, it’s also important that you get along with your immediate colleagues, or at least be on civil terms — bad blood among team members makes for a hostile, unpleasant work environment.
Read our post on why you should create a career development plan today!
Does my company care about its employees and their well-being?
It’s good to get along with your team, but the company as a whole should treat you like more than a cog in the machine, too. You might not be on a first-name basis with the CEO, but it should be evident from company-wide HR policies (paid time off, flexible work arrangements, or even employee activities and training opportunities) that the organization actively invests in its people.
Can I realistically see myself advancing at this company?
Based on employees who have held your position (or similar ones) in the past, you should be able to get a general idea of where your career could go if you stay at this job. Whether you can move up in your current track or switch to a different department, you should be able to see a future for yourself there.
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Do I like the work I’m doing now?
Going to work is often referred to as “the daily grind,” but it shouldn’t actually be a grind. Sure, you’ll probably get your fair share of grunt work now and then, and you may even get a few projects that you don’t particularly enjoy, but overall, you should like what you’re doing. If you’re stressed all the time and dread doing your day-to-day job duties (and they’re not temporary or likely to change anytime soon), you may want to think twice about sticking around.
Am I motivated to come to work each day?
This is perhaps the most important question of all. It’s easy to stay motivated when everything is going your way, but what happens when you hit a rough patch? If you enjoy your work enough to keep coming back every day, you can overcome a grueling project, a strained colleague relationship or a stalled promotion. A bad workplace chips away at your motivation until you dread the thought of even setting foot in the office. But a good one will keep your sense of optimism alive. It gives you hope that any negative situation you face there is only temporary. Something — whether it’s your close-knit team, a fun company outing or even a sincere note of thanks from your boss — makes you hold on and assures you that better days lie ahead. If you don’t feel this way about your job, it’s probably time to start sending out your resume.
Nicole Fallon is the assistant editor of Business News Daily, a resource for small business owners, entrepreneurs and job seekers. She definitely thinks her job is worth keeping. This post was originally published on LinkedIn.