I’ve long believed that our interest in finding a new job is related to the pain we’re experiencing at our existing job. After all, starting a new job is a little like switching to a new high school half way through. Even though it may be a good idea, it’s still painful. You don’t know the social norms. You don’t have friends. And, you haven’t yet learned your way around.
Job searching is also quite a painful process. I often compare it to dating, but sometimes, it feels similar to what I’d imagine a beauty pageant feels like. There are many people around who are judging you on various criteria. Not only do you need to fit the qualifications, but you need to be likable and look the part. Employers want to know that you’ll fit in well with the team.
For most people, the pain at their current job has to outweigh the cost of switching. You have to be willing to put in the energy with a job search, and you have to be willing to start all over again at a new company – to make new friends, and prove your reputation at work, again.
So, the question is this. What is your pain threshold? What are your deal breakers at work?
There’s a strange old saying about boiling a frog. It’s basically that if you put a frog straight into boiling water, it will jump right out. If you put it in colder water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay until it eventually dies. I really dislike this analogy, but it describes what many people experience at work.
I can’t tell you the countless stories I’ve heard about someone being yelled at during work by their boss. It doesn’t just happen once; it happens often. And, it brings the person to tears. Now, do you think if the boss had yelled like this during the interview that the employee would have signed up for this kind of abuse? No way. But, over time, it can start to feel normal. And, when it does, it will erode at the self-esteem of the employee
Don’t let yourself be the frog. If you haven’t, take some time to assess where your boundaries are. Where are your limits? If a friend told you about their day (and it sounded like yours), what would you say? If the friend was in the middle of an abusive work situation, you’d likely advise them to start looking. But when we’re the ones on the receiving end, it can feel less important. It feels tolerable.
Make a list the way you would in any situation. Determine where your boundaries are. Evaluate what you can influence, and what you cannot. If you find that there are deal breakers that you cannot accept, it’s time to look for another option. It’s time to polish up your resume.