Is it time for a job change?

Are you dissatisfied with your current job, but worried about the difficulty of job-hunting during an economic downturn?

Canada’s unemployment rate is at an 11-year high, according to Labor Force Survey figures released earlier this month by Statistics Canada. So job changers are facing increased competition for available jobs.

Plus, as we mentioned in a previous article, during times of economic uncertainty there are likely to be fewer “job leavers” — a term used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to describe workers who quit their job voluntarily (as opposed to “job losers” or workers who are let go from their jobs involuntarily).

What this means for you, if you are considering a career change, is there may be fewer job opportunities as other workers hang onto their jobs in an effort to maintain some financial security.

According to John W. Thibaut and Harold H. Kelley, authors of The Social Psychology of Groups, people may stay in an unsatisfactory situation because they do not see themselves as having alternatives.

Many employees are held back by “golden handcuffs,” meaning that because of the compensation they earn — through salary, pensions, or other benefits — they believe they cannot afford to quit their job.

Faced with a mortgage, other financial commitments, and people who depend on them, an employee shackled with golden handcuffs may fear leaving their job will lead to financial loss.

But even if a new job means taking a step back financially, if your current job is affecting your mental or physical health, it may be time to start looking for a new one. Some workers dread work so much, it can literally make them sick.

In fact, more heart attacks occur on Monday mornings — the start of the workweek for most workers — than at any other time of the week.

Given the choice, your loved ones would probably prefer to have more time with you, and see you less stressed, even if it meant scaling back your lifestyle.

But before you march into your boss’s office and announce “I quit,” there may be other options. If you enjoyed your job at one time, but have become dissatisfied with it lately, you may be able to boost your job satisfaction without leaving your current employer.

For example, one reason people decide to change jobs is because they have become bored with their work. Yet boredom can be a natural consequence of mastering your job.

When you first started your job, you probably found your work challenging and interesting as you were learning how to do it. As you learned more, your challenge was to become an expert. Once you became an expert, the challenge was gone.

Instead of leaving, why not see if you can take on new challenges in your current workplace. Talking with your boss about why you are dissatisfied may lead to a solution. You may be able to move to a new position in your organization, or take on new tasks in your present position.

If the problem isn’t a lack of challenge, but exactly the opposite — too much stress and too little family time — you may want to consider a completely different type of career change by moving down.

For example, if you loved the frontline job you had before becoming a manager, you may be able to reduce your stress and resume working regular hours by returning to a frontline position.

Even with more job-seekers to choose from, many employers realize it is costly to replace good employees, and will do what they can to keep them.

However, if you are not able to find a solution with your current employer, then it may be time for a change.

Assuming you work an average of 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 50 years, you will spend 100,000 hours at work. You deserve to spend that time doing something that doesn’t make you want to call in sick.

Tag Goulet is co-founder of and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College which offers certificates for dream careers online at