Many professionals today, including those in the legal industry, are unhappy with their jobs. In fact, research shows that dissatisfaction in the legal profession is widespread, particularly among lawyers.
Experts define job satisfaction is “. . . a pleasurable or positive emotional
state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences.” If you are not satisfied your present job, how do you determine when it's time to move on? Here are eight ways to determine whether to keep your job or move to greener pastures.
Do you enjoy your job? Is it challenging, meaningful, satisfying, rewarding? Do you look forward to work each day? Does the job provide new learning opportunities and unique experiences? Are you using your education
to accomplish job objectives? If your answer to most of these questions is “no,” it may be time to move on.
Are you satisfied with your earnings? In evaluating compensation, it's important to examine your total compensation package: pay, bonuses, benefits, stock options and other perks. For example, sometimes mediocre pay can be offset by excellent benefits or other perks. If you are unhappy with your compensation, can you ask for a raise
, seek a promotion or negotiate extra benefits such as paid parking or overtime pay?
Does your job cause you stress? Are you losing sleep at night over work? If so, evaluate the root of your work-related stress and determine whether you can take any measures to reduce it
. For example, can you hire additional help to reduce your workload, develop a better calendar system to track deadlines or address your difficulties with a co-worker with your supervisor? If stress continues to undermine your job satisfaction or if it begins to affect your health, it may be time to find a new job.
Work environment plays a large role in job satisfaction. If you are not happy with your working conditions, it will affect your attitude, productivity and performance. Evaluate whether the problems with your work environment are something you can remedy. For example, if you dislike your co-worker, perhaps you can move to another department; if your chair causes back pain, perhaps you can request more ergonomic seating. Some work situations may be beyond your control, however. For example, do you work in a hostile work environment
? Is your company downsizing
? Do you have a difficult supervisor
? In such situations, seeking a new employer may be the answer.
Even if you don't love your job or earn what you think you deserve, sometimes it is wise to remain in position because it may open doors to new opportunities. For example, an internship at your local legal aid clinic may not pay much but it can provide much-needed experience and networking contacts. If your less-than-ideal job is a stepping stone to greater things, stay put; if not, look for better employment.
Does your present position offer opportunities for advancement? Do you have a career path
or room for growth in your current position? Does your employer provide training and other professional growth opportunities? If you feel like you are in a dead end job, consider whether you can move beyond your present role by switching departments or furthering your education.
How does your employer recognize, appreciate and reward its employees? Are your own contributions recognized? If not, proactively seek feedback and address any concerns in your performance review or in a meeting with your supervisor or mentor. One way to highlight your contributions is by maintaining an achievement log
documenting your successes. Sometimes, the best way to gain recognition is by subtly tooting your own horn. If recognition and reward for your hard work remains elusive, it may be time to find an employer who appreciates your efforts.
Does your job offer a balanced lifestyle? Are long hours and evening or weekend work part of the job? Does your employer offer flexible work arrangements? If you feel like you are chained to your desk, explore other options such as telecommuting, job sharing or reduced hours. If such options are not available at your firm, perhaps you can help develop new flexibility initiatives
. However, if your company is not sensitive to work/life balance
and it is important to you, it may be time to find a more forward-thinking employer.