I'm writing this in the summer of 2021, and if you're in tech marketing, you'll know that the job market is absolutely on fire right now.
Quite a number of marketers in my network have been wondering whether it's time to change roles. This is the advice I usually give.
Getting outreach from recruiters and hiring managers is nice for your ego, but you have to be careful; getting wooed to a new job triggers all sorts of emotional neural networks in our brain. This results in clouded judgment.
I know people who have changed companies just because they weren't feeling appreciated, and so they took a new job just to give "the finger" to their old company. This is an example of someone using terrible decision-making "logic", and making a life-altering decision for naive reasons.
I've already shared my thoughts on how to evaluate a company before you join them. This post is about how to know when you should be switching jobs in the first place.
So, if you're feeling a bit of ennui about where you're at right now, here's how I would think about it.
First: you should always be passively job searching
The first career-related advice I give everyone who asks is to always be on the lookout for opportunities.
This step solves 99% of your "I'm not sure I'm happy in my job anymore" problems, most of the time before they even start.
I don't mean to spend lots of time browsing through job ads, because that can be a huge distraction. However – always reply to that recruiter outreach. Always say yes to an initial phone call with a hiring manager. Always reply to inmails.
Even if the opportunity is not a fit for you, you will get valuable practice at having these conversations. Some convos will lead to you understanding your market value and salary range. All in all, you will be less emotional when you do start a conversation that could lead to you switching jobs. And you will be on the radar of recruiters and hiring managers.
Your TOFU for career opportunities should never be empty, so when you start to feel like it's time to move on, you have contacts, you have an idea of the job market and you're not going from a cold start.
When should passive job searching turn into active job searching?
Here are a few markers that show that it's time to turn up the heat on your job search, ascending order of importance:
Your standards start to drop. You're not giving 100% to your work. You're winging it more and more. You're not polishing presentations as much as you used to.
You stop warmly welcoming new joiners to the company. You're not excited about your work, and so you find it inauthentic to express excitement to people who are joining.
You feel a pang of jealousy when people leave. Subconsciously, it's because they've made a move that you want to make.
You haven't generated external value. When reflecting on your work in the last 3-6 months, you don't have anything externally-valuable to put on your resume / LinkedIn profile. You're working on things, but those things may only have internal value and little external value. This typically means that your impact on the business is low, which is a major red flag.
You stop caring about your personal brand. On your next performance review, you don't care if you get an "average" or "below average" rating. This is bad for everyone: it's bad for the company because you're now an asset with depreciating value; this is bad for you because you're screwing your reputation while also robbing yourself of the opportunity to improve your skills.
When you get to this last point, I've advised people to take time off work, not to rest but to really kick their job search into high gear. Because you've now started doing active harm to your career trajectory, and you need a major intervention to get you out of the tailspin.
This post is a qualitative perspective regarding that feeling of career ennui. If you want a more quantitative, bust-out-the-spreadsheet take on it, I recommend this post by Apoorva Govind.