“A good rule of thumb is if you've made it to thirty-five and your job still requires you to wear a name tag, you've made a serious vocational error.” – Dennis Miller

As the year comes to an end, many engineers will evaluate their current job based on the year-end bonus they may or may not receive as well as several other factors.

Many engineers will consider starting off the New Year by creating a resume that they can send out to find a better job.  In my experience providing career-coaching services to engineers, I can offer the following 5 signs that I have found, which usually indicate that it’s time to move on:

  1. Your salary has not increased in 2 years.  Okay so the economy is bad, and most companies can get away with keeping your salary the same for 2 years, by skipping a raise one year, but any longer than that, I would seriously question them.  The truth is, as bad as things have been, many engineering companies that I have talked to are doing okay, and some are even hiring.  So even if it’s a 1% or 2% raise, if your company is serious about your role with them, they should show it through a salary raise every year.
  2. You haven’t received a performance review in 2 years.  An engineer recently told me that he was working at a company for about 3 years and has never received a performance review (or a raise).  I asked him if he was joking.  Think of it this way, if you have worked somewhere for multiple years and have never received a review, and never asked for one, you’re probably not going to get one at this point.  You are like a hamster running in circles inside of a wheel.  No incentive, no change; do you want to keep on running?  Performance reviews are critical to understanding how you are progressing in your career; otherwise, how do you know if you have improved at all?  If a company is not reviewing your performance, I don’t believe that they think you have an important role with them in the future.
  3. Your job has become stagnant for more than a year.  If you feel like you have been at the same exact position in your career for over a year, and it is boring every day, then it’s time to move on.  Stagnation can happen for a number of reasons, but the bottom line is, if you are good at what you do and you enjoy it, you should never be stagnant, regardless of the company you work for.  So if stagnation arises, not only is it time to leave the company you are with, but I would re-evaluate your career as a whole.
  4. Your company continuously promises you promotions and more responsibility but you never get them.  I have had this happen to me before and it is certainly not a good sign.  Your employer tells you that you have a bright future and that they are going to give you more responsibilities, but year after year they never do.  Either they are lying to you, or too busy to keep their word.  If this happens to you, I would first challenge the company to give you that promotion they have promised you, and in the meantime get your resume ready.
  5. You don’t get along with your boss.  The boss/employee relationship is so critical to your development as an engineer.  Your boss should not just be giving you things to do, but he or she should be teaching you and guiding you every day.  If you don’t get along with your boss, the negative energy associated with this relationship could really stress you out and make for a very unpleasant career experience.

I didn’t write this post to bring gloom to a happy holiday season, I wrote it because if it helps you to recognize one (or more) of these signs in your career and spur a relocation, it may just bring you the joy in your career that you had always hoped you’d have.

This is a guest post by Anthony Fasano, PE, author of Engineer Your Own Success. Anthony found success as an engineer at a very early age and now writes and podcasts to help other engineers do the same. Visit Anthony’s website atEngineeringCareerCoach.com and subscribe to the top 3 resources Anthony has used to become a partner in a firm at the age of 27.

 

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