There are many reasons, but seek options in your present job before you leave.

Signs It Is Time to Get a New Job

Mar 9, 2022

by Jean Thilmany

You may have become disillusioned with your current engineering job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you worked longer-than-usual hours. Maybe you discovered remote work wasn’t for you. Maybe your boss was even more annoying over Zoom than in person.

Engineering is not exempt from the so-called Great Resignation: a rush of employees quitting their jobs when the threat of COVID-19 had receded. Should you become one of them?

“If your job changed for the worse during the pandemic, you may think the grass is greener at every other company that’s not yours,” Anthony Klotz told The Verse Media, a music design and production agency. Klotz coined the term the Great Resignation. As an associate professor at the Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, he’s studied the exit of hundreds of workers from the workforce.

How can you tell if you’re suffering from “green is greener” syndrome and may regret the move, or if you need to quit, like, now? Some of the reasons to consider looking for a new job are glaringly obvious. Others are subtle.

The most common reasons to leave a job is low salary, greater workload, or both, Klotz said.

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“Too many employers have used COVID as an excuse to cut salary and conditions—even when performance exceeds targets—and demand excessive working hours,” he said.
It takes courage to move away from that situation, but quitting comes with rewards.

Eric Johnson is living proof. He’s a Minneapolis engineer who worked at a large manufacturer of industrial machines before the pandemic hit. He’d been working evenings and weekends during the pandemic and found himself overwhelmed.

He quit his job in April 2021 to find a better work-life balance. Johnson resigned before he had another job lined up. The job search took him about three months.

“I quit because, cliché as it sounds, I wanted to spend more time with my family,” Johnson said. He’s since started a job with a higher salary and an understanding he’d be working a straight 40-hour week with little overtime or travel.

Johnson expects to gain artificial intelligence skills with his new job. If he feels his skills lagging after a few years, he’ll change jobs again.
 
That strategy helps him stay at the top of his field. “Statistically I'll do better financially and gain more knowledge of the industry by job hopping,” Johnson said.
 

When to Dust Off the Resume

 
But sometimes the signs that it’s time to look for a new job aren’t as obvious as hours worked or rate of pay. If you’re on the fence about a job change, here are some considerations that may help you decide.
 
  • Your skills are becoming stale. Engineering is changing fast. Engineers are needed to help develop new technologies like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and medical devices. They’re working on wind turbines, solar devices, and self-driving vehicles. These fields will continue to grow. 
If you want to work in a newer engineering field, now is the time to make the move, said Andy Moss, president of M Force Staffing, a recruiting firm that works with engineers. These fields are growing.
 
  • Your boss bothers you.  If you don’t get along with your manager, resentment can fester and grow. You interact with this person every day and, what’s more, must defer to their decisions and way of working. 
If you have a problem with your manager, and have tried numerous ways—such as a frank conversation—to work through it, the stress around your differences will color your days. A new job is one way to put a manager behind you.
 
  • You feel dead inside. Work isn’t going to be exciting every single day. But if you dread every day, if you feel like a cog in the wheel, or that you’re stuck repeating a process that bores you, it’s time to think about other jobs that won’t feel like a slog.
 
  • Your job affects your personal life. You’re stressed at work. You don’t mean to, but you take your stress home and take it out on friends and family. They complain you’re angrier or more distant than you’ve been in the past. Your personal life doesn’t should not suffer because your work life has you frazzled.
 
  • Your health is affected.  Do you feel exhausted or do you experience other symptoms of chronic stress, such as body aches, sleeping too much, headaches, or depression? This could be your body’s way of alerting you that your job isn’t right for you.
 
But don’t hand in your resignation before you consider how your current job could change to fit your needs, said Erica Groshen, senior economics advisor at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

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Don’t discount the trust and social capital you’ve built in a place. If you like big parts of job, you may be able to work with your employer to craft something that works better.
 
Have a conversation with your higher-ups to see if they’re willing to negotiate on job changes like more vacation days, a bump in salary, the ability to work from home, or a change in responsibilities or roles.
 
Now is the time to make a career move due to labor shortages that include engineering jobs, Moss said. It’s scary to make the move. But your future happiness could be at stake. Polish up that resume.
 
Jean Thilmany is a freelance writer in Saint Paul, Minn.
 

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