Is it Time for a Change?

Everyone likes to complain about their job. But when do you know the bad outweighs the good, and it’s time to move on? Below is a list of questions i use in my workshops to help people figure out if it’s time for them to start thinking about changing jobs.

Is It Time for a Change?

Do you have to work, or do you get to work?

Do you dread Monday? Do you count the hours until Friday, and the minutes to quitting time?

What attracted you to your current position? How is this different from what you like and dislike about your job now?

When someone new asks you what you do, are you proud or embarrased to say what you do?
What reaction do you want others to have to your position?

When you started this position, where did you want to be in 5 years? Are you there?
Is that what you still want? Why or why not?

Do you have professional goals that relate to your job? Are you excited and actively working on them, or do you have trouble making them up for your performance review?

What do your children/family/friends think about your work?

What are you passionate about? What do you do without getting paid for it?

What kinds of books, magazines and “stuff” are piled all over your house?

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Why?
What skills did you use to accomplish them?

What was the coolest project you have ever worked on? Why?

What was the worst project you have ever worked on, and why?

What is one thing you thought you’d like or excel at, but didn’t?

What is one thing you thought you’d hate or not be able to do, but you actually enjoyed?

What sorts of things do your colleagues regularly ask you for help with?

Do you think big companies have more prestige, resources and opportunities or do they have more politics, paperwork and layoffs than small companies?

Do startup companies have more innovation and excitement, or chaos and fewer resources?

Who is the best boss you ever had? Why?

Who was the worst boss you ever had? Why?

When you take work home, are you anxious to get to it, or are you distracted by everything else? Is this different for different types of work?

Do you want to be handed an assignment then left alone, or are you energized by team meetings?

What kind of clothing would you wear to work if it was up to you?

Are you driven by the desire to make as much money as possible, or would you rather enjoy your work more and make less money?

Do you seek awards and public recognition, or would you rather your work was interesting and personally satisfying?

This list is copyright Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D., Balbes Consultants, Please do not redistribute without permission.

Quitting with Style

A transition is, by definition, moving from one place to another. While we’re excited about moving to the new opportunity, don’t forget to take proper care of the position you’re leaving behind.

Marshall Loeb has an article entitled Before Calling It Quits, Know How to Exit a Job With Grace. He gives some great tips on how to exit gracefully. After all, you never know where your next transition will take you – it might put take you back to the things you think you’re leaving.

Career Prospectus – A Forward-Looking Document

I received an interesting document the other day – a career prospectus.

The prospectus listed the objective of this person’s job search, qualifications, personal attributes – all things that might be found on a resume. However, it also included attributes of target companies, geographical preferences, contacts needed (job titles), and industries and companies of possible interest.

Knowing exactly what he was looking for made it much easier to help him, and I was able to provide him with multiple leads. I’m sure writing it also helped him focus his search, and figure out what he was really looking for. As he said, a resume is a backward looking document, and at this point he needs to be looking forward.

Something to think about as you plan your own career transition…..


There are many reasons why people have a hard time find a new job. A recent article lists three big ones, and gives pointers for getting over them. Which one is holding you back?

I don’t know what I want to do.
I’m afraid to make a change.
I don’t want to network.

Once you determine what your reluctance is, you can find a way to get past it.

Your Reputation – online as well as off

We all know that science is a small community. You have to be careful what you say since everyone knows everyone else – or at least knows someone who does. This can be good when you’re trying to network – it’s not hard to find someone who can put you in touch with the right person.

However, it works the other way as well. It’s very easy for potential employers to find out about you, and your past behaviours can come back to reward you, or to haunt you. And now the internet is taking that to the next level. Here’s a cautionary tale of how your online exploits can sabotague your job search, without you even knowing it.

How to Find Small Companies

At least 50% of the new jobs out there are at small companies, not large ones (see the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics if you don’t beleive me). But how do you find small companies? The best way I’ve found it to use a database, like or Most local libraries will allow free access to one or more of these.

Look up any company you know of that you’d like to work for, then find other companies that do the same type of work (ie, have the same SIC code). You’d be amazed at how many small companies you can find this way!

And if you need more info on how to read SIC codes, see Navigating the North American Industry Classification System from Western Illinois University.

Publication List

Everyone knows they should include a list of their publications and presentations as part of their resume, or as an addendum if it’s too long, right? The 3rd edition of the ACS Style Guide was just published, and includes proper formats for citing such references. If you don’t have a copy of this excellent resource,
Nan Butkovich of Penn State University has published a Quick Guide to Citations Using the 3rd Edition of the ACS Style Guide. Quite handy!