Emotional Warning Signs that You Have Outgrown Your Job

As a leading executive recruiter, Key Corporate Services works with new candidates daily. Many of those contacting us feel they have simply “outgrown” their current job. Often, it’s a slow-growing feeling, the result of working in the same job for many years.

The person may still be working in a position that seems enviable to other people. Perhaps they could “skate” along in their current position indefinitely. Still, there’s a feeling they have outgrown their job. There’s a feeling of being underutilized or not being challenged by the job anymore.

 when you know it's time to leave your jobHeads up! Your boss may already know how you feel!

By the time they realize this and call us, their own manager may be feeling the same way; that it’s time this employee make a change. The proverbial “writing on the wall” indicates a change is needed. And the employee realizes their position is “at risk” of being eliminated anyway.

In today’s workforce environment, few jobs are sacred. The meaning is simple. If an employee is not happy in their current position, there is a real likelihood that their manager also knows they are unhappy. Employers often know when an employee has outgrown their job before the employee does. This is a sign that things have to change. And, the change may involve moving the disgruntled employee “up and out”.

Being alert to the signs and emotions of when you have outgrown your job are critical. It will tell you when it’s time to look for that next opportunity, whether it involves leaving the company entirely or transferring to another department.

There are red flags along the way that are clear indications you may have outgrown your job:

  • You don’t feel challenged anymore in the job

feeling challenged on the jobThis relates to the amount of passion you have for your job. Think back to your first week on the job and remember the passion you felt then. If you are waking up most mornings now without any of that same passion for the job, perhaps you have been in the role too long. Ask yourself if the work now feels routine and boring.

Routine work is when you feel you are just going through the motions. And tasks are on autopilot. An example could be working on a new project that would have once excited you but now has lost any emotional spark. If you don’t enjoy this “routine” work, then a job change may be in order.

If you’re bored, this lack of motivation can be a clear signal it’s time for a change. While no one can expect a job to be 100% interesting at all times, most of the time you should be finding your work enjoyable and interesting. Being bored in a job can be exhibited in subtle ways. If you have stopped or reduced spending discretionary time on activities that might improve your job performance, it may be due to boredom.

  • You are under-utilized

Any employee has to feel they are making a contribution to the business. It’s only natural to have a desire to “pull your own weight” and feel utilized by the company.

If you feel your skills are not being fully utilized and you have a lot more to offer, this is another indicator that you may be ready to stretch. Look around you. Do you see other employees getting those “choice” assignments that you used to get; or, at the very least, feel you are certainly qualified to do yourself?

While there are times when an employee’s own perception of their potential and skills are askew with how their manager sees reality, it’s up to you to decide if changes are needed. Your employer may feel that you have not continued to live up to the expectations from the past because of being bored or unchallenged, not enjoying your current assignment, or truly having reach your highest level of interest in the job.

  • You are unhappy

unhappy on the jobHow happy are you about going to work each day compared to that first month on the job? Think about past experiences at work. Remember those times when you used to get so engrossed in your work that you lost track of time. Now, reflect on the current condition. Are you still experiencing the excitement of being engrossed in the job? Or, or you dreading even getting up to go work? If so, then it’s time for some serious soul-searching.

Ask yourself, “What is the reason for this malaise?” Getting in touch with this feeling of unhappiness is not always easy. The reality is, some people don’t realize they are unhappy with their job until someone points it out to them. They may consult family or friends seeking advise to validate their feelings.   Still, it can be difficult making the decision to “make a change.”

  • You are overworked

We all live in an age when the corporate mantra seems to be “do more with less.” So, having too much to do in too little time is nothing unusual in the workplace. But, if you notice the workload seems to be piling on, then there’s a possibility you have outgrown your present role. Perhaps your employer already knows this, too. And, because your capabilities have outstripped the necessities of the current job, they are using you to do more. It’s only going to change when you decide to move on.

  • You are overlooked

Colleagues are starting to get more recognition, or standout from you in other ways more often than they used to. This can be very discouraging. And, you may rack your brain trying to understand why this is happening. The reality is it may not have anything to do with your own performance on the job.

Sometimes, employees become so valuable in their position that their manager won’t let them grow. They keep the employee pigeonholed in a role. It doesn’t matter how hard the employee works to prove themselves capable of a promotion. The manager will consistently overlook them. If you feel that may be the case, it’s definitely time to move on. You have to know when you have mastered your job. When you have reached that level of competency in the job and your manager is still not valuing your career growth, that’s a big problem. The status quo will be unsustainable, as your satisfaction with your work life will dwindle.

The change will only come when you decide to spread your wings and fly to a new opportunity!