Entry Level

Entry Level Woes: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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Eventually everyone finds themselves wanting to look for a new job. Now that the economy is getting back on its feet, 2013 is predicted to be the year of “I Quit”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean hiring managers will pay any attention to you.

According to HR Resource Executive Online, less than half of employers feel new graduates are ready for the workforce. Of course the grads don’t agree, resulting in a severe gap between what entry level wannabe’s think they’re offering versus what employers fear they’ll get. This delusion of office grandeur doesn’t end when you get a job, either. According to anonymous, it takes a long time before fresh faced grads realize they aren’t God’s gift to the workforce. Anonymous writes,

I was confident throughout the interview process, and on my first day didn’t even break a sweat. When I went in to work and found myself setting up computers and taking the minutes during other peoples’ meetings, I thought my employer was under utilizing my enormous skill set. It wasn’t until a month in when I really started to figure out my position that I realized I had no idea what I was doing! 1 million questions and 2 years later, I only now am starting to really feel like I get it.

My point is this – if new grads are 100% sure they are going to blow their workplace away, only to realize two years later that they were nothing more than empty heads and big egos, how can we be so sure that our confidence on flying the coop is any different?

One way to know if you’re truly ready to move on, whether your entry level or not, is to perform a self-audit. Remaining brutally honest with yourself, and evaluating your true intentions, can save you from making rash decisions or finding yourself on the receiving end of an unemployment check.

The “Am I Ready to Leave My Job?” Checklist

[ ] I’ve Outgrown my Position:

If you’ve outgrown your position, you should find a new one. But, have you truly outgrown your title or are you just frustrated/weary/sad over your current responsibilities? Assess these two options carefully, because frustration over fetching coffee or fixing the printer may leave you thinking your employer doesn’t appreciate you, when in reality you’re simply paying your dues. You don’t become CEO in a few days, or even a few years, and if you aren’t willing to eat a few shit sandwiches, you won’t know how to appreciate the Filet Mignon waiting for you at the top. You’ve only truly outgrown your position if you find you aren’t learning anything (because your employer has taught you all there is to learn… which I already don’t believe), your employer tells you that you’ve outgrown your position (yes, this has happened to me), or if you find yourself naturally taking on more responsibility and work because that of your current title no longer fills up your 40-hour work week. If you are working hard, willing to sacrifice and not just desiring a fatter paycheck, then yes, maybe you have outgrown your position.

[ ] I’ve Worked at my Current Organization for > 1.5 Years:

I often hear employees say that no one should leave a job before their 1 year anniversary. I challenge that no one should even begin looking before their 1.5 year anniversary. Time flies and careers are long. Unless your job had only 1 task, and that task was incredibly easy to master, future employers may find it hard to believe you are really ready to take on new challenges after a single year of employment. Plus, leaving a job after 1 year or less makes you look like a job jumper, and employers from previous generations hate job jumpers. If you’re willing to leave your current employer so quickly, why wouldn’t you do the same to your next organization? Employers want longevity out of their employees, and are more likely to invest in a stable candidate than one that seems to need a new title every 12 months.

[ ] I’ve Been Consistently Unhappy for Months:

If you are working on a really difficult project that requires late nights and weekend shifts, your misery is understandable, but not a reason to leave. Creating traction in your career does often require long hours and more dedication than senior level workers. You are proving yourself, and at times that means being a little rundown. However, if you dread going in everyday and feel miserably during your workweek, your emotions may be a sign that you’ve outgrown your position. Good employees who are underutilized will often become unhappy. If you feel you are idling, and there’s no way to move forward with your current employer, you may be ready to move on.

[ ] I Have New Aspirations:

One of the greatest benefits of being entry level, in my opinion, comes from the opportunity to change your mind. Your first ever post-collegiate title does not have to be your last (and I pray it isn’t), and working in an office environment or particular industry may allow you to realize more of your talents and further your passion. If you find that you would be more satisfied if your career moved vertically, or that a complete 180 is called for, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, and hopefully your current position has added to your skill set in a way that allows you to successfully pursue your new interests. But of course, wait a year and a half, then go.

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