how-to-know-when-its-time-for-a-job-changeThe reason to look for a new job may be obvious: You resent going to work every day; you don’t feel like anyone appreciates you; you don’t see a future at your company; you hate your boss; or you spend lots of time at work surfing the net or checking Facebook. There may be more subtle reasons as well—a feeling of discontent or the desire to have more of an opportunity for your voice to be heard at meetings, for example.

Regardless, if you don’t pay attention to the source of your discontent, you run the risk of hurting your career growth, damaging your reputation, or ultimately losing your job.

TIP: Before switching jobs, read this post on what to do with your retirement accounts

At a time when there are more qualified people than jobs, it’s important to actively manage your career. You and your company can leverage your skills and expertise, and you can achieve greater job satisfaction. Ask yourself the following questions:

Where is the disconnect?

Determine the source of your dissatisfaction. Is it a bad boss? Are your values not aligned with the company’s values or strategy? Are your skills and talents not being utilized?

Another way to think about this is to imagine yourself doing what you love to do each day. What kind of work do you do? Where and how do you work? With whom do you interact regularly? Once you are clear on the issues, you’ll be able to determine your next steps.

What value do you bring to a company?

Get clear on the value you bring to a company—such as a specific skill set or the ability to resolve customer issues, manage projects, or bring new ideas to market. Once you can articulate your value, ask yourself if you are able to add that value in your current role and at your current company. If not, talk with your boss or with human resources to discuss expanding or changing your role. If you truly believe there are no opportunities for you internally, you may choose to initiate an external job search.

What do you need from a job and from a company?

Think about the kind of environment in which you thrive. Is it working with other people? Working directly with customers? Working behind the scenes? Working with established processes or technology? Working independently? Working closely with your boss and others? The answers to these questions can serve as a filter for potential job opportunities and can also help you save time by allowing you to avoid jobs that aren’t a good fit.

Is your house in order?

If you are going to interview for new jobs, whether inside your company or in other companies, you’ll need to prove to hiring managers that you are the best candidate. Polish up your resume, make sure you are appropriately attired and groomed for interviews, and practice how you’re going to answer questions posed by interviewers as well as what questions you will ask.

How can you manage your network?

It’s always a good idea to maintain your network, and it can be especially helpful when you’re considering changing jobs. But don’t just rely on LinkedIn or other social media outlets. Invite colleagues for coffee to discuss business, and conduct information interviews with those who work in companies or disciplines of interest.

The bottom line is that investing time in managing your career can pay off for you—and for your company.

Deb Hornell has been helping individuals and companies grow and succeed for more than 25 years. She is a visionary whose personal brand of “Cultivating Environments for Growth” extends into her consulting practice, her family and friendships, and her forthcoming book: Good Things for a Full Life.

Follow Deb on Twitter: @DebHornell and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DebHornell.