How Do You Know When it is Time to Go?
by Rebekah Kati, Senior Assistant, INALJ North Carolina
Leaving a job that you have put significant time and emotional investment into can be difficult to contemplate and it is easy to miss the warning signs – I know it was for me! I felt like I was letting my coworkers down when I turned in my notice. No other employees had the same responsibilities as me – would I be hurting the library and the students if I left?
The truth is that your coworkers will adapt and that your projects will continue on without you. During the customary two week notice period, you will have the opportunity to document your work and processes to make the transition easier for everyone involved. Your coworkers might struggle for a bit, but the work will continue. Although it is sad to leave, staying in a job that is no longer a good fit for you can have a detrimental effect on your happiness.
Even if it may be best for you to move on, sometimes it might not be possible. We all need to pay the bills after all, and opportunities in the library field are scarce. What are some signs that it could be time to move on from your position into something new? If you can’t move on, how can you help make the situation better for yourself?
Your job isn’t interesting anymore
Most jobs will not be fun and intellectually stimulating at all times. However, a job which is a good fit for you should include a few interesting tasks. If you find that you are constantly bored at work and not feeling challenged, then it is possible that you may have outgrown your position. Changing career goals is a natural part of a career path and it’s possible that you could integrate new tasks into your existing position. Think of additional tasks or projects that would interest you and could benefit your employer and your job. Brainstorm benefits and time commitments before you talk to your boss, since management will be most receptive to new ideas if you can articulate specifics. If management isn’t open to adding new tasks and responsibilities to your position, that could be a sign that you’d be happier in a new job.
Your job has no upward mobility
Libraries come in a variety of organizational structures, which may not have opportunities for upward mobility. This is typical of smaller libraries, which may have one director and a librarian position or two. Once you have outgrown your entry level position in such a place and if the directorship isn’t open, you’ll have to move on to gain more skills and experience.
Your job dissatisfaction is affecting your personal life
A lack of engagement and frustration with a job can lead to bitterness and even depression. When I was stuck in a job that I had outgrown and from which I was disengaged, I found that I was frequently irritable and complained about work a lot. I couldn’t shake feeling that I was stuck and going nowhere in my career. The solution for me was to take a large paycut at a new job in a related field, but that is not feasible option for everyone. It may help to mitigate the stress by concentrating on activities that are fulfilling to you outside of work. This will distract you from your frustration and could help you find meaning outside of your job.
You don’t feel comfortable at work
Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their workplace, but sometimes you may be on edge. This could be due to a variety of issues including a lack of appreciation by management, conflict with coworkers or patrons or even disagreement with library policies. If your discomfort is not affecting your personal safety, it is worth seeing if the problem can be resolved amicably before leaving. The wonderful Ask a Manager blog contains suggestions to to start this conversation for a variety of situations. Also, you will get a better recommendation from your supervisor and co-workers if you try to resolve issues rather than leaving abruptly. Naturally, if your personal safety is an issue leave as soon as possible.
It is difficult to deal with a job that you have outgrown, which is frustrating and makes your feel uncomfortable. As shown above, there are steps that you can take to help counteract these feelings, but if they do not work, it is best to move on to another position.