If you’ve ever been miserable at your job, you’re in good company. But a little job misery doesn’t necessarily mean that you should make a beeline for the door. Many people have compelling reasons to stay put.
1. Your job makes you physically ill. We’re not talking about an occasional headache, or a few sleepless nights in order to meet a critical deadline. Developing chronic conditions like migraines, stomach pains, sleep issues, depression, or anxiety due to work may indicate a serious problem for which you should see a doctor. If your health issues are caused by stressors that you can’t remove from your job, like the billable hour requirement, clients’ expectations, or partnership prospects, it’s probably time to change jobs or consider downshifting to a less demanding environment. No job is worth making yourself sick over — or worse, dying over….
2. You can’t get substantive experience or skills. While it is acceptable and even expected for junior associates to spend large chunks of their time doing doc review and due diligence, as a midlevel associate, you should be achieving more advanced competency benchmarks, like taking depositions or negotiating deals. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to obtain specific skills and experiences that are appropriate for an associate at your level, your employer may simply lack the resources or ability to help you reach those milestones. In that case, don’t let your employer hold back your legal career development.
3. You haven’t had a day off for several consecutive months. That means you are either working way too hard, or your workplace has a culture where taking time off is not looked favorably on. Whatever the reason, neither will result in a motivated and productive employee in the long-term. Everyone needs and deserves a break from work, even if it entails doing nothing other than staying home and watching TV all day. If your supervisor can’t understand that, or penalizes you for taking time off, it’s time to start packing.
4. You’re always begging for work. You have the opposite problem from #3. You want to be busy and not have to worry about where you next assignment is coming from, but no matter how hard you try, you never seem to have enough work. Although this could be due to a negative perception people have about you, consider also whether there are management issues. Is your firm’s financial health suffering? Has there been a mass exodus of partners from your practice group? Does your firm only specialize in highly cyclical practice areas? While everyone will experience a dry spell from time to time, if your employer consistently cannot keep you busy, leave on your own terms before you are asked to leave.
Lastly, a word on timing your exit. If you do realize that you’re ready to leave your job, don’t jump ship immediately. First, consider whether you can possibly change something to make your current job more bearable.
On the other hand, don’t stay until you reach the boiling point. Writing a dramatic farewell email or bad-mouthing your employer may feel good in the moment, but ultimately it will only reflect badly on you. Instead, maintain professionalism at your current job until the end, and focus your energy on finding a job that is a better fit for you. Should you find yourself in that position, Lateral Link’s team of experienced recruiters can help you make the transition.