5 Signs You Need to Change Jobs: A Guide for Accountants

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blog 5 Signs You Need to Change JobsA Guide for Accountants

Whether you’re just starting to rev up your career or in “the rush hour of life”, deciding to change jobs is one of the biggest choices you can make.

So, if you’re an accountant who’s considering a career change, it would be wise to understand if it’s the right time to quit—or if what you need is some time to recharge.

“Many workers may have simply reached a breaking point after months and months of high workloads, hiring freezes, and other pressures, causing them to rethink their work and life goals,” Ian Cook, a people analytics executive, wrote in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Who is Driving the Great Resignation?”

But how do you know if it’s the right time to quit and change jobs? We’ve identified 5 signs, which we hope will help you decide what to do next.

You’ll want to consider the phenomenon of “boomerang employees.” That’s the term that researchers Anthony Klotz, Andrea Derler, and Carlina Kim coined to describe individuals who returned to their previous employer within 36 months after they had resigned between 2019 and 2022.

Among the reasons they returned were:  

  • Their new employers failed to deliver the growth opportunities they had promised during the hiring process; or 
  • The boomerang employees were offered a pay raise (averaging 25%) and promotion to return to their previous employer.


Is stress still manageable?

1. When your current job conditions are harming your health

It’s natural to feel tired after the mental and physical demands of work. But if you end each workday feeling drained, you may be close to burnout.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as “a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Six out of every 10 employees have said they lacked the time and energy to finish their work, Microsoft reported in its 2023 Work Trend Index.  
 
For those willing to try something new, a logical next step would be to learn how they can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to reduce their workloads and manage what Microsoft calls “the digital debt” —all the emails, chat messages, and other data they need to respond to.  

If it’s harder to concentrate at work on more days than before, or if you’ve had trouble sleeping, find out how your company’s wellness program can help. Some health insurance plans will cover consultations with a counselor or psychologist.

An honest conversation with your manager about your workload or other workplace conditions will also help.

Explore what options are available to address the conditions that are making you feel unhealthy and want to quit. How well your company responds will help you decide if it would be wiser to stay—or if it’s time to change jobs and find a workplace where you can be healthier.


‘The rush hour of life’

2. When your work has taken the time that would otherwise go to your most important relationships

In the same HBR article, Ian Cook observed that at the height of The Great Resignation from 2020 to 2021, the generation that had the highest quit rates were not younger employees, but those 30 to 45 years old.

Financial responsibilities typically increase for individuals in this age group. Home mortgage payments, childcare expenses and school fees get added to (or in some cases, replace) the budget categories that younger workers handle. 


Considering whether or not to change jobs can be daunting in these years, which developmental psychologist Jeffrey Arnett calls “the rush hour of life.”

But if you miss family dinners and special occasions consistently or notice that work is taking over what used to be family time, pay attention. Has work become the center of your life?

“I think that when we live out of alignment or we’re not in sync with our purpose, it has a nasty habit of gnawing away at our relationships,” Samantha Clarke wrote in her 2020 book Love It or Leave It: How to be Happy at Work.

“We’re not able to connect with new people and we distance ourselves from people we love.”

3. When your work no longer supports your values and priorities

Apart from giving yourself time for important relationships beyond work, Clarke also advised that you try “shining a light on those dark corners in your life to see where your purpose might be hiding.”

What are your core values and highest priorities, and does your work support them?

Years before she launched a company that teaches career reinvention as a life skill, Pamela Mitchell thought she had landed her dream job on Wall Street.

A year into it she realized that the dream job was a nightmare. Yet she stayed for nearly 4 more years because she kept getting more responsibilities and pay raises. (“She wasn’t very happy, but she was very successful,” her boss later told CNN, who described Pamela as “The queen of reinvention”.)

In her book The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention: Essential Survival Skills for Any Economy (2010), Pamela advised: “You must think about the things you value in life, apart from work. Why am I doing this? What more do I want in my life? What do I hope to gain? If you do not take time to ponder these questions at the beginning, in the end, you will get a new job but you will not get what you want.”

4. When you are no longer growing in your current role

Not everyone will want or need to reinvent their careers.

But anyone who wants more out of work—whether it’s more pay, more security or more meaning—will need to keep learning new skills, how to use new tools and new ways of working.

From the start of your career up to your mid-30s, spend as much time and energy as you can discovering what you love most about work. It’s a smart idea to volunteer for special assignments, take courses and find mentors.  

Beyond “the usual trappings of success—title, money, and perks,” what’s more important is to build a career that won’t leave you feeling bored or trapped.

If you like the company you work with and their corporate values and purpose are consistent with yours, ask about training opportunities or coaching. Explore the idea of working in a different role or department, if that’s an option your company supports. Accepting that something is wrong or missing from our jobs can be a difficult awakening but a necessary one.

It can compel us to “replenish our energy, creativity and commitment, and to rediscover our passion for work and life,” wrote Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee and Daniel Goleman in the article “Reawakening Your Passion for Work.


Crystal-clear priorities

5. When your needs change

That article made it to the HBR Guide to Changing Your Career (2018) but was originally written in April 2002, just 7 months after the World Trade Center towers collapsed in a terrorist attack.

“Sometimes it takes a trauma, large or small, to jolt people into taking a hard look at their lives. Such an awakening may be the result of a heart attack, the loss of a loved one, or a world tragedy,” the authors wrote.

“It can also be the result of something less dramatic, like adjusting to an empty nest or celebrating a significant birthday. Priorities can become crystal clear at times like these, and things that seemed important weeks, days, or even minutes ago no longer matter.”

An individual’s needs will change over time. Someone in their 20s will have a different view of what matters at work—what activities, benefits, and rewards they will value most—from that of someone in their 40s.

Coaching and training needs will also vary from one age group to the next. As technology continues to create new tools, accountants will need to keep up. Those who do will find new ways of adding value.

At TOA Global, we run a 7-week paid training program where professionals with at least 2 years of experience in local accounting roles and an accounting degree can get certified to work with Australian or U.S. clients.

Find out more about our Accelerator Program here.

A tool to help you decide

You may use this tool to help you reflect on your next step. That could mean reaching out to your line manager to talk about how your job can be redesigned to suit your needs better.

Or it could mean getting ready to search for another job if too few of these conditions listed below are being met.

At TOA Global, more than 3,700 accountants, bookkeepers, and financial services professionals have launched international careers, advancing in their profession while helping businesses create value and grow.

Find your career at TOA Global.