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When a once-exciting opportunity turns sour, it may be time to evaluate your next move

Remember that feeling you had when you opened your offer letter email from an enticing company? Do you also remember feeling the excitement, the anticipation for what you will accomplish, and the slight angst about living up to your new managers’ expectations?

Those feelings happen to all of us, and with good reason—we view new jobs as opportunities to open positive doors, grow ourselves and grow our professional acumen. Sadly, the most- positive emotions about a new position can end when you realize the job, specific position or industry isn’t living up to the expectations you had when you decided to join.  

If you’re like most of us, entering a new job signifies a chance to be appreciated, to cut your teeth in a new industry, or find mentors that are inspiring and nurturing. But when the aforementioned doesn’t happen, you can be left feeling lost or questioning your next move and, in some cases, question your intuition. There is hope though, all you have to do is take a look at your environment and your reaction to it.

So, once your latest opportunity has lost its luster, it’s time to figure out what’s eating you—maybe you’ve outgrown your industry, your managers or simply, you’ve outgrown the company as a whole.

Determining the source of your uneasiness isn’t so effortless,  and therefore you might find yourself putting off the decision to make a move only after you’ve found something “better”.

If you’re struggling to decide whether the grass is greenest where you water it, or whether you’re forcing yourself to shrink into a place you’ve outgrown; consider these 3 criteria.

1. You Find Yourself Disagreeing with Your Readers—Frequently

You know the scene, you’re working on a project and your manager gives you feedback and changes direction only after you’ve completed your work.  You’re not sure why this happened, or what the reasons are, but you’re left feeling like your boss or manager is a “complete idiot.”

However, chances are you’re in a place where your skillset has eclipsed the managers’.  

After you’ve been working in any field for a while or worked at any place of employment for a considerable amount of time, it’s normal to question your leaderships’ decision making. Why? Because chances are you have made up your mind about how things should be done, or successfully tested your methods, and you’re confident in your own decisions.

However, your ideas and methods don’t always gel with those above you and it’s difficult to determine if you’re just simply disagreeing, or if you’ve lost respect for your management team.

if your leaders’ priorities don’t make sense to you, or you find yourself snickering and secretly cheering when one of their decisions or ideas goes awry, it’s a big sign you are no longer on board with their overall vision.

Ask yourself if you consider the person or people above you successful—if the answer is no, or if you find yourself frequently challenging their decision making, it’s time to find others who can inspire you or those who are more aligned with your style.

When you respect your leadership team, you are eager to please and have an eagerness to show off your work and expertise; when the respect is gone you’re probably just trying to get through the day.

monitor your employees' mental well-being

2. Your Organization Lacks Transparency and it’s Making Your Job Harder

We all know Millennials and Gen Zers are demanding transparency from companies and in some cases, making the decision to accept—or reject– job offers based on how transparent a company is. But transparency goes much deeper than a company’s ethical business practices; transparency is expected in the workplace across all communication platforms.

This means new hires from these generations want to understand why they’re tasked with certain responsibilities, what the end goals are, and how their work is making an impact.

Yet, many companies and organizations are stuck delivering instructions with a top-down approach and delegating tasks to teams without providing much any context or background. If you’re working at an organization where closed-door meetings are standard, you’re not copied on emails that directly influence your projects, or if you don’t have access to key decision-makers or clients, chances are the culture is outdated and won’t foster your growth long-term.

Transparency is a sign of confidence and lack of it usually indicates a fear-based company culture; if you find yourself always guessing about what’s expected of you, where the priorities lie, or what clients and decision-makers think about you, it’s time for you to move on.

3. Your Industry Isn’t Giving You What You Expected

Sometimes, the particular company or leadership team is not responsible for your “stuck” feeling. Instead, it’s caused by the fact that you picked the wrong industry or the industry isn’t living up to your expectations.

Remember, most professionals are burdened with picking their major by age 20 without any hands-on experience or real exposure to the career path they’ve selected. As such, not all of us get it right when it comes to pinpointing the exact industry we want to go into for the next 30 years.

To judge if you are simply in the wrong field, ask yourself what you like about your current job, and what you like about the jobs of those above you. If you don’t see yourself in those positions, or if you find yourself drained even after you’ve received a promotion, maybe it’s time to reevaluate if you’re in the right field.

All fields have their pros and cons, but if there are more cons to you than pros, it could mean that you landed in the wrong place.

Another way to tell if your career path is not going where you want it to is if you’ve held a few positions in the same field and keep experiencing the same negative feelings. All in all, sometimes it’s not the job itself it’s the field in which you’re working.

If you find yourself in this position, realize that it’s never too late to set a new goal or evolve your skillset– don’t be afraid to change lanes if it means you’re going to be happier with your ultimate destination.

In summary, it’s difficult to discern when you have outgrown your professional situation, and it’s OK to feel unsure, confused, or even scared when facing a transition.

Ultimately, if your growth opportunities have stalled and your “offer letter excitement” feeling was only just a phase, it may be time to reconsider your employment and evaluate where you’ll feel challenged, supported, and like you belong.

The best things to do while contemplating a move is to: make sure you make time to network, read articles from like-minded thought leaders on LinkedIn and browse inspiring stories on Fast Company and Inc regularly; you’ll begin to shape a plan for your next step and feel more confident doing so.

Written By
Kristina Markos is an Associate Professor of the Practice at Simmons University in Boston. She also has taught career education courses at Bentley University, which boasts one of the top career education curriculum in the country. She has also mentored and advised junior hires in the PR industry and has held several management positions in big-city agency settings

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