The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some signs that you should be looking for a new job?” is written by Vicky Oliver, a career development expert and author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.
Job satisfaction is every worker’s goal, but sadly it eludes most working Americans. A Gallup study of worker engagement in the U.S. found 70% are not engaged at work.
But leaving a job, even one you hate, is risky. It’s usually better to find a way to salvage your current situation before calling it quits—it’s easier to find a job when you already have one. But if the situation can’t be resolved, try to put a plan in place for new employment before you pull the plug.
But what if it’s your employer who is plotting to push you out? Pay careful attention to any of these warning signs that could signal your time is running out:
You’ve been passed over for a promotion
Performance reviews can sometimes be difficult to interpret, particularly if you work for someone who is unwilling to give anyone on her team a negative review. In today’s litigious environment, some companies may even counsel managers to sugarcoat their performance reviews. But being bypassed for a promotion is a sure sign that your goals are out of alignment with the company’s goals for you. Try to sit down with your boss and get to the bottom of why you were overlooked, or worse, deliberately passed over. And start to put out feelers for other jobs, too.
Your raise is lackluster
A lukewarm raise could be a sign that your company thinks you’re a solid B-player. A-players usually get better raises. What constitutes “lukewarm?” It depends on the company you work for. Here again, some polite investigatory work may be needed to find out what percentage raise your predecessor received and why you’re not being considered for a larger one.
It may be a good idea to ask your boss for a six-month interim performance review so that, together, you can assess if you’re on track to receive a more standard raise. Now is a good time to also phone your headhunter. Just be sure not to do so on company property.
You hate your boss
If you don’t see eye to eye with your boss, don’t automatically ascribe it to a difference in personality. Is your boss new? He may have been hired with the understanding that he would clean up shop. He may be looking for reasons to let you go. Is he nit-picking with you about small items? Does he seem like he’s inventing the issues that he has with you? Is he giving all of the plum assignments to someone else on staff? You should take this as a sign that it may soon be time to leave. But also work on improving your relationship with him. If nothing else, doing so will give you the time you need to explore other options.
You hear there’s a big shakeup in the works
So often, there’s a kernel of truth in the gossip. Don’t panic, but don’t ignore the gossip. Heeding it can give you a head start on reactivating your network and looking for new opportunities. The key thing is to do so without adding to the general hysteria. Call up your contacts one by one and ask if they can meet you for lunch. Then, over a calming meal, tell your contact that you’ve heard some unsubstantiated gossip about a shakeup at your company. Ask your contact to please keep her ear to the ground for any opportunities that may be suitable for you.
You’re just not getting the good assignments anymore
Plum assignments are awarded to stars. If the assignments you’re asked to tackle used to shine more brightly than they do now, it could be a sign that your star has fallen. Don’t overreact, but do learn if there are any competitive opportunities for you outside of your office. Before you go on an all-out job search, you should ask your boss why you’re not getting the great assignments that you used to. Ask her what you can do to prove yourself to her once again.