It isn’t always obvious that we aren’t in a job that will be a good long-term career choice. The heavy civil construction sector is known for 50+ hour work weeks, often coupled with commutes to projects or sometimes even a difficult commute to the office. This demanding schedule doesn’t leave much time to assess if one should be open to or actively seeking another professional opportunity. If we aren’t desperately unhappy or paid significantly less than what we expect or feel we are worth, we may not realize how our current job is limiting us, stifling our creativity, or affecting our future. In the same way that our personal lives can be unhealthy or lacking in growth, so too can our professional lives. Here are some signs to look out for that may indicate it’s time for a change.
- The company’s direction doesn’t align with your career path objectives and timeline.
There is no clear direction toward a career path that aligns with your objectives, or the timeline for that advancement is not in line with reasonable expectations. Ask yourself where you would like to be within the company ten, five, perhaps even one year from now. How do you see yourself finding your way there? If the path is vague, you may be in for a struggle and what you have defined as a career goal may suddenly feel more like a pipe dream.
- There is no opportunity of a mentor to help you continue in your professional development.
It’s important to have guidance within the workplace, in the form of someone who has done what you are doing now, and is doing what you would like to do down the road. What is the likelihood that someone like this will be available to you, not just in terms of time but in terms of the willingness to share skills and insight gained by years of experience? Having a mentor you can learn from and talk to when you are faced with new situations and difficult decisions is a huge asset as well as a stress reducer.
- Current or future relocation or commuting has caused significant stress on relationships with loved ones.
As noted above, the average work week in the construction industry is 50+ hours a week, so you are almost certainly working hard. Add to that a lengthy commute and you have precious little time to spend with your family and friends. We are all familiar with the concept of quality time being more important than quantity of time, but how much is enough will be different for each of us. If our families need more than we have the time and energy to give, this may place a strain on our relationship(s) with them. Moving or knowing you will need to move to a new location in order to climb the corporate ladder can also drive a wedge between you and family members, especially if the new location is not perceived as desirable compared to your current location.
- Your company doesn’t support professional development opportunities or professional certifications as relating to your job:
If you hope to have a higher paid, higher status position within the company at some point in the future, having access to professional development is key. Experience alone may or may not be sufficient to excel in your current job but if you hope to gain entry to advancement, you will need to acquire new, more complex skills, education and training.
- The company doesn’t share its succession plans, business plans for the future, or strategic initiatives for growth with its employees:
These are all long term plans that you will need to be aware of if you hope to contribute in a constructive way to the future success of the company. If you intend to spend your career with them, you will want to know what these plans entail. If they don’t make this information available to employees, why not? Does it even exist? It should! You’ll want to find out if you will have access to this kind of information as time goes by, and if so, when. If not, this is a red flag indeed.
In summary, it isn’t always clear cut if the job you have landed is one in which you will benefit for the long haul. There are ups and downs in any job and you will probably never be completely happy all the time in any position you take. But don’t get to the place where you’ve got no choice and have to quit your job suddenly because you ignored the warning signs until it was too late. Stay focused on the big picture, with your overall well-being, your personal relationships, and your long-term career goals getting the attention they deserve.
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Taylor Maurer runs the talent acquisition firm HCRC as senior managing partner. He is a professional heavy civil construction recruiter dedicated to attracting and retaining high quality talent.