Monday, April 21, 2014

What are the Top Warning Signs That It's Time to Get a New Job?

How do you know when it's time to start looking for a new job? 

I have done a lot of research with my colleagues and they have helped me come up with a list for you. All of these are good things to watch out for, but I want to make one thing clear: in the end, "the company" doesn't care about you or anyone else.

"The company" only cares about continuing its existence whether that is with or without you.

It's a harsh reality, but all employees need to keep that in mind. The best you can do is to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date and ready to go. You're your own hiring manager. Be ready to look for a new position at any time.

Pay attention to these Warning Signals. 

  • You recognize that you have maxed out reasonable opportunities for career growth, promotion, or salary increases.
  • Your actual work assignments are putting you behind the curve in technology or tool use.
  • Reductions in force happen, even if they don't hit you.
  • Your team experiences widespread morale drop.
  • Performance bonus plans are dropped, curtailed, or go unpaid.
  • Your boss/manager/team lead leaves and his/her replacement is a jerk or starts in with a "Not Invented Here" mentality towards work previously done. I.e. your work can be replaced with less expensive talent.
  • You find yourself assigned relatively meaningless tasks rather than the type of work you had been doing, even though your recent work has been otherwise praised.
  • Formerly transparent seniors on your team suddenly seem to be having a LOT of meetings without sharing what is going on.
  • Your performance review has obviously been crafted to expose you as this year's stack-ranking victim.
  • Meetings are held by management with people attending who don't normally have meetings with those attending and no results of those meetings are shared. 
  • Managers have trouble looking you in the eye. 
  • People start to update their LinkedIn profiles and hiring freezes start. 
  • Your boss starts taking phone calls at work and has to excuse themselves or talk quietly as they walk out for each call. 
  • Managers take the mornings off or have extended lunches when they never really did before.
  • There are two types of "when to quit" feelings. There is that nagging feeling of "is this the best I can do?" and then there is that "no way in hell am I going to violate my ethics."  
  • In the game industry, one of the best ways to know it's time to update your resume is when they take away the free sodas. 
  • When your company obviously values one department over another. i.e. programmers get large raises, public commendations, upward job mobility and other departments do not.

Honestly the best way to "get ready" is to ALWAYS BE READY.

How can I always be ready? That sounds crazy! 

It's not hard if you do a little each week. And you need to do this; there is no such thing as lifetime employment. You are the only one that is going to manage your career. YOU.

  • Your resume should always be current.
  • Your LinkedIn profile should also be current.
  • Make sure to get LinkedIn recommendations as soon as you can get them. Don't wait until you're no longer employed there. 
  • Continually add people to your LinkedIn network. Adding a bunch when you are unemployed looks desperate. 
  • You should keep (legal) versions of any work you'll need for a portfolio. 
  • All publicly viewable presentation / portfolio work should be put online regularly.
  • Always have at least one interview outfit.
  • Keep some PTO saved aside just in case of an interview.

What about you? Do you have any tips?


Billy Joe Cain is an Executive Recruiter with Mary-Margaret Network ( and focuses on the video game industry. He has worked for Electronic Arts and started three game studios in Austin, TX. Since 1992, he has created games such as Wing Commander: Prophecy and SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman.

Please connect with him on LinkedIn!

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