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When Is It Time to Leave Your Current (UX) Job?

Woman sitting on desk with packed box of belongings
Resign photo created by pressfoto -
I’ve been doing the job of lead for almost 3 years now. Like most companies, mine doesn’t really teach you anything about how to manage. So, I found and just finished this great book, The Successful Manager by James Potter and Mike Kavanagh.  

While the book was really valuable from a management standpoint, to me the most impactful part of the book was Chapter 13: Determining If It Is Time to Leave. I wished I’d had access to this advice long ago when I first started working. My work journey would have been much different.

So here’s the authors’ advice, ask yourself 5 questions about your current job:

  • Do I enjoy the work itself?
  • Do I like the people?
  • Am I fairly/generously paid?
  • Is it meeting my professional development needs?
  • Do I have work-life balance?

If you answer yes to 4 - 5 of these questions, then you’re in great shape. 

If you only answer yes to 3 of these, then it’s time to start putting feelers out, i.e., you should be looking but you don’t have to be in a hurry. 

If you only answer 1 of 2 of these as yes, you should be aggressively job searching.

I’d ask 3 other questions including about the state of UX of the company:
  • Are there political situations that do not look like they are going to get better, that directly affect your ability to do your job or to enjoy the job?
  • If the company is not UX-centered, is it actively trying to incorporate UX across the enterprise?
  • Is the company looking at or has it adopted SAFe agile? (Yes, means you will be miserable. That's a whole other post.)
I also do not believe UX designers should be coaches to let other people do design by committee aka Lean UX. This ignores the years of experience and knowledge designers have in design psychology. (But, you should be bringing your project team into your design work for ideas and input.) So, if the company moves to this type of design, I would consider it a negative. As I always say, if everyone is supposed to be able to do everything on a project team, at what point are you going to let me design the database? 

While not mentioned in the book, you should ask yourself these questions regularly at least every 6 months. Don’t wait until something starts to get bad to ask yourself if it’s time to move.

Sometimes moving isn’t an option because of personal or economic situations. I’ve been there multiple times. If you’re in one of those situations, make a plan for how you’re going to make it through before you can move. Finding something positive at work or outside of work to focus on and sustain you while you wait will help the wait.

It's easy to get complacent in a job, but you should take control of your situation. Answering these questions should help you know when it's time to move.


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