Unhappy at work? Consider a change

Your job got you down? Dreaming about retirement? Having a hard time getting out of bed to go to work? Maybe it's time to change jobs. "What?" you gasp, "In this economy?" Sure, why not. You only have one career, why not make the most of it...and contrary to popular belief, there is opportunity out there.

Now I'm not suggesting that you change for change sake or that staying in a secure job is wrong. What I am suggesting is that if you're one of the 70 percent who say they aren't satisfied with their jobs, you owe it to yourself to find a job that doesn't feel like a life sentence.

But before you turn in your letter of resignation, here's a quick checklist to see if it might be time to jump ship: (answer yes or no)

____ Have you been stalled in your job for more than seven years, while your peers have been promoted?

____ Is your salary below that of other people doing similar jobs in other companies?

____ Are you spending less than 50 percent of your time on tasks/activities you enjoy?

____ Are your skills and abilities greater than those your job requires?

____ Are you displeased with your relationship with your manager?

____ Are you in a job that is a dead-end or has limited visibility?

____ Is your company downsizing, experiencing financial trouble or recently been bought by another company?

____ Is it a new trend in your trade/profession for companies to go to the outside and hire contract workers?

____ Do you fear that you can't achieve your career goals at your company?

____ Has your career been set back by something political?

If you have more than a few "yes" answers, chances are you aren't very happy in your job or you could even be close to losing your job.

You may be thinking, "Sure I'm unhappy, but how do I look while I'm still employed? And how do I know I'm not walking into a situation that's even worse than what I have now?" Here's how:

1.      To break through that trapped feeling, start with a plan. Sometimes just charting out a long-range goal will help you take the first steps.

2.      Write down what is holding you back. Is it the money? Is it not knowing where to start? Is it not having a resume? Take a look at the list and decide which barriers are real and which are only excuses for doing nothing.

3.      Start watching the want ads. Clip them out and tape them into a spiral notebook. Highlight the qualifications they are looking for. Under the ad, jot down the skills and experience you have that would fit. Soon you will begin to see where your background might be a good match. After a few weeks, you'll be ready to put together a resume based upon the notes you've compiled. If you need help writing your resume- get it.

4.      If you're concerned about looking while you're still employed, take care to call employers on your break, only list your home telephone number (but get an answering machine), and include "Don't contact current employer" on all applications.

5.      Step up your networking. Since most people get jobs through a tip from a person they know, you need to talk to your friends and contacts about what you're looking for. Ask them to feed the leads to you rather than tell employers about you, if you want to keep your job hunt confidential.

Keep in mind that large companies tend to be downsizing, while small and medium-sized companies are more likely to be growing. Paint a picture of your ideal job and then ask them who they know in that field or industry. Write all contact information in your notebook and follow through on every one of them...you never know...sometimes job tips come from strange places.

6.      If you land an interview, try to schedule it around your work schedule so you don't arouse curiosity at work. Prepare thoroughly by rehearsing mini-stories about how you approached problems and challenges at work and the results you achieved. Also prepare by compiling a list of questions you will ask at the interview. Ask about the company's financial health, ask questions about the management style, ask about the results expected on the job. In other words, don't just take any job...take the right job for you. Only hand them your references when a job offer seems imminent (and it's fair to request that they don't contact your current boss).

7.      Don't let your current job slide. You need the reference.

8.      Don't put off going back to school if you need to. Get your GED or college degree. Even one class a semester will make you more marketable because employers will see that you are taking responsibility for your own career.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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