“Should I consider changing jobs?”
A question many must ask themselves several times a year for various reasons.
I think the key is to differentiate why you are asking yourself this question and determine whether the issue is a temporary or long-term issue. In other words what could be classed as a bad spell at work and what is a genuine feeling of discontent about your role/employer. We all have good and bad periods at work, even if we love our jobs. Some issues are temporary and are worth putting up with, some are more permanent issues that can affect your job satisfaction, work-life balance, stress levels and in some issues, even your health.
Here are some common issues that come up in conversation as genuine reasons why construction professionals tend to start a jobs search and are able to find alternative jobs that they deem to be over and above what they are currently doing. It’s key to point out that we are all different. We all have different priorities in life and we all have different attitudes to work which influence our perceptions as to what a suitable job looks like. Salary often plays a huge factor and can often determine how much flexibility and patience we have with some of the following issues.
1. No longer motivated or enthused by what you do at work
I would argue it’s a very big deal if you’re at this point. If you’re not motivated or enthused by what you do, I don’t think you can work to your best ability. Which can create a spiral effect of negativity? You don’t perform well, because you’re not motivated and you begin to dislike your job as you’re not performing well and pressure increases on you to perform. It’s a hard cycle to get out of unless you’re motivated.
Ask yourself, what could motivate you to keep you in this position? Money, more / less responsibility, changing project/division…?
2. You’ve been overlooked for a promotion
It’s never a nice feeling. Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes it’s a sign that you’re not highly regarded within the business. Promotions are much easier to gain internally in my experience. Changing employers is not always the answer to get your promotion. However, if you feel that your efforts are not being rewarded or recognised at your current employer and have confidence that you could impress within a new business, then it’s certainly worth testing the market.
3. Your Business is going through significant changes
Change is not always bad, however, for employees who are quite settled, change is change and as the old saying goes ‘nobody likes change’. Of course, there are infinite ways in which a business can change but a common change that occurs in construction is mergers and buyouts. I get a lot of calls from employees affected by this in construction.
The main concern is job security while I also hear concerns about changes in management, changes to the location of their office and changes to their role. All valid concerns and if you’re business is going through significant change, then this could be a good time to have a look around and see if there is something more appealing in the market.
4. You feel you cannot work well with your boss
On a personal level, I feel your relationship with your direct boss is essential to healthy employment. Yes, you can put up with it, but do you really need to? If you feel you cannot work with your boss, it really is time to find a company and boss where you can work well. Your direct superiors are critical to your development, performance and happiness at work. Finding a good boss that will bring out the best in you would personally be one of my biggest factors in looking for a suitable job.
5. Your employer’s practices are not ethical (potentially even illegal)
Again, another big one here. We all know businesses that do things ‘their own way’ and this can sometimes include doing things that aren’t quite by the book, however you need to take a view on these things. If you’re going to progress your career, I’d suggest you need to be learning how to do things the right way, not necessarily the quickest or the easiest way and have some pride about your work. If you’re thinking this isn’t right, it probably isn’t and gets out.
6. You do not feel adequately rewarded for your efforts
I think this falls into two categories. Money and Praise.
Money – Are you paid adequately for what you do is often a highly subjective topic in my experience. I don’t think it helps to ask friends in construction what they’re on either. In my experience, people often exaggerate their salaries when talking to friends creating this false ‘market rate.’ I would say talk to a Recruiter about your salary and ask them if it is fair. However, be aware that some Recruiters may tell you exactly what you want to hear in order to get your CV and work with you. I’ve always prided myself on being honest with people and regularly tell them if I think they’re already paid top end salaries for their level.
As for receiving adequate praise for your work. It’s important for most to be given a pat on the back now and then when you’ve done a good job. Good businesses will reward good performance and praise individuals. If you’re not getting this, maybe you’re not in a good business or maybe you’re not deemed to be doing a good job. Both are causes for concern.
7. Your work is negatively impacting your personal life
This can highly depend on your attitudes towards a work-life balance. This can also vary throughout your life dependant on whether you are single or have a family, as well a number of other circumstances.
It really is something you have to decide independently based on your own circumstances. However, your happiness and well being is important, just like your earnings and career. The most common issue I think I see here is travel time to work. Particularly those who have young families. Maybe you’ve been happy travelling up and down the country all week, but a new arrival may mean you want to be home more often and need to re-think your priorities. Perhaps there is a role out there that can improve your work life balance.
8. You feel your input is not valued
We probably have all seen this is our work. Someone who’s ideas and input is not valued and often overlooked.
If you feel like your this person within a company and that you are not respected, it’s time to have a look at why and consider a change for a fresh start where you can avoid being in this situation in the future.
9. Your role has changed without an increased salary/job title
You may have had a promotion in terms of responsibility but you haven’t formally been given the title to reflect this or the salary. What do you do? I think communication is the key here. Express your views with your employer rationally and present your case without giving an ultimatum.
You need to weigh up a few issues here and maybe take a more medium-term view. There will be two conflicting views:
Firstly, if you’re getting an increase in responsibility, you should be rewarded financially as such. No questions.
I’d argue there is a conflicting view that you should weigh up whether the increase in responsibility will help your career and could you get this opportunity elsewhere for more money with the experience you currently have.
I’d suggest taking a medium-term view on this and set out some goals with your employer to achieve within 6 months to prove your capabilities and warrant the job title and increased in salary. If the worst happens, and you do not get this, you have 6 months experience with more responsibility under your belt and you can more adequately sell this to a rival employer to get your promotion and increased salary by leaving to a competitor.
10. You dread going to work every day
The key here is the words ‘every day’. We all have the odd bad day, where we’ve got a difficult meeting or deadline that we need to hit and know we’re going to have a tough day. This is normal.
If you’re literally waking up every day and the thought of doing your day to day duties fills you with dread, then there’s something wrong and I’d argue this is not sustainable and it’s time to see if you can find something that is more suited to what you enjoy doing and make a change.
To put these into some sort of context specific to the construction industry in the UK. There is a huge skills shortage in technical professional roles at present, including Quantity Surveying, Estimating and Planning. If you’re in these professions, it is very much a candidate lead market at present. Simply, there are more jobs than people to fill them.
Therefore, the balance of power is very much in your favour. You do not need to settle for a job, the chances are the job that suits the majority of your preferences is out there if you want it.
What other signs do you feel are clear indicators that you should be looking for alternative employment. I’m keen to hear other views, as there are certainly more than 10.
About the Author
Richard Poulter Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong
I am responsible for the recruitment business in Hong Kong, Asia, and the Middle East. I was a civil engineer and project manager for 15 years before becoming a construction industry recruitment consultant in 2004. I am based in the Hong Kong office and specialise in placing professionals in engineering, project management, planning, HSEQ and risk.