I'm in the process of teaching my youngest son how to drive, and one of the things I'm trying to teach him is to always be scanning the road ahead.
For example, I try to explain how he can't just focus on the green light ahead -- he has to be on the lookout for the idiot who is going to pull in front of him or the driver who suddenly decides to come to a dead stop to let a rabbit hop across the road.
I'm trying to also teach him to be aware of road signs. Going the wrong speed, or failing to spot a "dead end" sign can cause him considerable trouble, I tell him. (This is where I get a lot of eye rolling -- a key component of any parent teaching a child to drive.)
But being able to spot trouble ahead is also a key ingredient for any career. I know that in the last few years most workers have been unable to do anything but just survive -- taking on the work of others who have been laid off, or accepting jobs that required twice the work for half the pay.
Still, things are getting better and employers are hiring. It's time to take a look around and consider whether you career is about to run off in a ditch, or stagnating. Is it time for you to start plotting your next job? Here are some key points to consider:
1. The nasty office politics make you want to scream. Backbiting and snide remarks are running rampant, and morale is in the toilet. Everyone blames everyone else, and little work gets done because there's too much bickering over who left the break room a mess or who didn't get a promotion. Without teamwork and collaboration, your career can come to a grinding halt.
2. You've become the invisible department. You hear about company news third hand, your boss has taken to hiding behind closed doors and no new projects are scheduled. If your department isn't making money, it's safe to say your entire team is in jeopardy. Dust off that resume.
3. You have tread marks on your back. If you've been passed over for more than a couple of promotions or continually denied interesting or top-priority projects, you might be in trouble. If people you helped train are already moving ahead of you, then it's clear the company has little interest in your development. Start networking with others in your industry to find out what are the most desired skills and then take some classes if you lack them. This will help you when it comes time to find that next rung on the career ladder.
4. You're bored spitless. If you want to grow a career, you've got to feel challenged. Request new assignments or training from your employer. If that doesn't happen, it may be time to move on to a company that appreciates a go-getter.
What are some others signs it may be time to take the next step in your career?