10 toughest career dilemmas - solved

From whether it's time to change jobs, to secrets for getting into business school, to advice on surviving an office romance, here are excerpts from some of the top Ask Annie columns of the year.

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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.)?
Is it time to change jobs?
Perhaps you dread going to work in the morning. Or you can't sleep at night anymore. Or your colleagues are avoiding you. But you've got a good title and the pay is good. How do you know if it's time to update your resume and start job hunting?

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, 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," says Bayer, you'd be smart to leave before you get sacked, lose your sanity, or both.

1. 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.

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're constantly singled out to do the work no one else wants, alarm bells should ring.

6. You're excluded from meetings your peers are invited to. 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. 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. "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 seriously damage your health or get so demoralized that you can't be upbeat in job interviews.

Last updated December 19 2007: 7:58 AM ET
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