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Very often as job seekers, we struggle with the idea of when to leave. We may feel that it makes no sense to leave one good job for another. This can make sense in certain situations. However, when the writing is on the wall, it’s best to pay attention.

If we wait too long, we can create a tough situation for ourselves. We may feel helpless, and at the whim of our company or our boss. We may feel like we have few choices when looking for a new job. We may be quick to take a job that pays less or doesn’t fall in line with our career goals.

But, if we’re proactive, this is a pitfall we can avoid (or make less painful). The first step is to pay attention to the signs. If your manager is unhappy with your performance and begins to document their complaints, it can be a sign. Do your best to correct any issues identified, but if the manager is not interested to be pleased, pay attention. Documentation is one way that managers are able to justify firing an employee.

If your job function is becoming outdated, pay attention. It can also be a bad sign if there are more people entering your field than necessary. It can also be a bad sign if computers or workers from other countries are replacing workers.

Also watch for larger industry trends. If your industry is doing poorly due to external factors, watch how your company and its competitors are reacting. If your company is restructuring frequently or turning over top level management, watch closely.

If you sit and wait to become outdated, you will. But, you don’t have to. If you monitor changes in your company and industry, you will know when to prepare for the future.

If you’ve noticed these changes, you may wonder what you should do. First, look for other industries that may be able to use your skills, but that are doing better than your industry. Begin reading job descriptions for alternative jobs that have similar requirements as to your qualifications. And, if you have to, look at other cities near you where the job market is healthier. In other words, do research.

At the same time, take stock of your professional network. Think about how many contacts you have outside of your current company or your current industry. If your company went under, do you have people you could call that aren’t coworkers? If the answer is no, it’s time to start reaching out. Although it’s not always fun, networking has become a way of life, and a necessary part of surviving in today’s job market.

As you can see, all of these suggestions are about taking control of your future. It’s time to stop waiting to see what will happen to you. Instead, begin making small steps toward a future that you choose. You’re more likely to find something you’ll want to stick with for years to come.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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