8 signs it's time to change jobs

It's best to move on before you get fired, lose your sanity, or both. Fortune's Anne Fisher offers eight ways to tell if your job is in jeopardy.

By Anne Fisher, FORTUNE senior writer

(Fortune) -- Dear Annie: For the first time in my (16-year) working life, I dread coming to the office in the morning. It's gotten so bad that I can't sleep Sunday nights, and I think I might be getting an ulcer. Why? I took what I expected would be a great job - at least the pay is great - about a year ago, and since then I've felt more and more out of place.

My boss keeps giving me tasks that an entry-level hire, without half my experience, could do. He has also stopped including me in meetings where important decisions are made about my department's activities. (All my peers are invited.) To top it off, most of my colleagues have been avoiding me ever since an incident a few weeks ago when I questioned a practice that seemed to cheat one of our clients, and I'm starting to think I should have swallowed my ethics and kept quiet.

Quiz launchTake the quiz
How safe is your job? Take this quiz to size up your chances of being fired. Good luck.

1. Have you ratcheted up your career skills? Have you learned something new in the past 90 days (mastery of a piece of software, an accounting formula, a foreign language, etc.)?
Yes
No

I don't want to look like a job hopper, but I'm not sure how much longer I can stand working here. What should I do? -Outcast

Dear Outcast: Yikes. According to Richard Bayer, Ph.D., chief operating officer of The Five O'Clock Club (www.fiveoclockclub.com), a national career-counseling network based in New York City, you would be smart to leave before you get sacked, or you lose your sanity, or both.

Over the years, Bayer has compiled a list of eight signals that usually mean your job is in jeopardy. "If you've noticed three or more of the warning signs, it's time to update your resume and start job hunting," he says.

From your e-mail, I'd say you are suffering from more than three. Check out the list and see if you agree.

1. You don't fit in. Your values don't match the company's. If your colleagues are "dishonest and focused on getting ahead regardless of legal or moral barriers," Bayer says, it's time to quit before an Enron-style scandal sinks the ship.

2. Your boss doesn't like you and you don't like him or her. If your boss never asks your opinion, and never wants to chat or have lunch with you, and if you disagree with her agenda and dislike her style, your days are numbered. Adds Bayer: "If you've ever done something that undermined your boss, you might as well get out now."

3. Your peers don't like you. Feeling isolated, gossiped about, and excluded from the inner workings of the organization is a very bad sign, as is feeling that you're not part of the team and wouldn't socialize with your colleagues even if they asked you.

4. You don't get assignments that demonstrate the full range of your abilities. "Watching all the good assignments go to others, while you're given the ones that play to your weaknesses or are beneath your professional level, should tell you something," says Bayer. Likewise, if it seems the boss doesn't trust your judgment, you're in trouble.

5. You always get called upon to do the "grunt work." Everybody has to take on a dull or routine task now and then, but if you are constantly being singled out to do the work no one else wants, alarm bells should ring.

6. You are excluded from meetings your peers are invited to. Sound familiar? If it's painfully clear that your ideas aren't valued, why stick around?

7. Everyone on your level has an office. You have a cubicle in the hallway. Bayer notes that, whatever your title, your digs can speak volumes about your real status in the organization. If your peers have offices with windows and you're asked to move into a broom closet - no matter what the official explanation - start cleaning out your desk.

8. You dread going to work and feel like you're developing an ulcer. Ah, here's yet another of your symptoms, and a particularly nasty one at that.

"If the idea of going to the office makes you anxious or physically sick, and you're counting the hours from the time you arrive until the second you can leave, it's time to move on," says Bayer. Do it before you do serious damage to your health, or get so demoralized that you can't be upbeat in job interviews, or both. Once things have deteriorated to this point, being perceived as a job hopper should be the least of your worries. Get out while you still can.

Readers, have you ever quit a job that made you miserable? How did you know it was time to skedaddle? Or have you ever stayed too long and regretted it? Post your thoughts on the Ask Annie blog. Top of page

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.