Does the thought of spending another moment crunching numbers in your accounting career send shivers down your spine? Are you going mad in your high-pressure public relations position? Do you despise your dead-end data-entry job? If so, you're probably thinking it's time to switch careers.
Not so fast. While a big career move can work wonders for your sanity and your pocketbook, you should always look before you leap. If you find yourself in the midst of certain major milestones, a career move should be the last thing on your mind. Here are five signs that you should probably stick it out in your current job for a little while longer.

  • Sign #1: You have a bun in the oven
    If you're sporting an obvious baby bump, it may not be the ideal time to jump ship and go searching for a new career. Of course, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to interview or hire you because you are pregnant under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. However, no matter how much an employer tries to ignore that lovely round baby belly during your interview, it would be naive to believe your pregnancy will have absolutely no influence on their final decision.

    Let's say the company desperately needs to fill this position as soon as possible. Do you really think they'll be willing to hire you only to lose you a couple weeks later as you head out to maternity leave? On top of that, many organizations do not offer maternity leave to employees until they've been working at the company for a year or longer. Obviously, there have been plenty exceptions to the rule when a pregnant woman proved to be the strongest candidate for the position and the employer offered her the job. However, it's important to know what to expect when you're expecting … and you probably shouldn't expect to land a new job while you're in your current "state." (Learn about preparing for an addition to the family in Budgeting For A New Baby.)

  • Sign #2: Your spouse just got the ax
    If your spouse was recently fired or laid off or told his employer to take this job and shove it, it's probably not the best time for you to make a major career leap. You should take this time to focus on finding a new job for your spouse instead of plotting your own career move. (Learn more about landing a job in Sell Your Skills, Not Your Degree.)

    Plus, let's say your wife was recently laid off and lost her health insurance. You may find yourself in quite a pickle if you were to suddenly switch jobs as well. Health care coverage often doesn't kick in until you've worked at a company for a few months. That means you and your spouse would be insurance-less for at least a few months and that's a risky proposition.

  • Sign #3: You're headed for Splitsville
    As sad as it may be, divorce is a harsh reality for countless couples. As a matter of fact, statistics show that more than 40% of U.S. marriages end in divorce. Not only can divorce stir up some overwhelming emotional stress, but it can also shake your finances to the core, which means it's a terrible time to make that major career move.

    Immediately following a divorce, you should focus on stabilizing your life and your finances instead of shaking things up even more. Give yourself at least six months to a year after a divorce before you consider switching careers. After all, it may take you that long to get used to single life. Many divorce attorneys have been known to say that people are not in their right minds for one year before divorce and one year after divorce. That's exactly why you shouldn't try to make any major job jumps during this emotional time. (Learn more about the financial impact of divorce in Get Through Divorce With Your Finances Intact.)

  • Sign #4: You're loaded down with debt
    According to a Society for Human Resource Management poll, 43% of companies ran credit checks on some or all of their job candidates in 2006. That was up a whopping 25% in 1998, and some believe that number is continuing to rise in these tough economic times. What does that mean to you, the job hunter? It means that if you're carrying around a gigantic load of debt, it could cost you that new career you've been chasing.

    If an employer runs a credit check on a new hire and sees that he has massive amounts of debt, they may assume that he'll be more likely to steal money from the company or sell proprietary information. They may also perceive these high-debt job seekers as more reckless, undisciplined or irresponsible than a debt-free candidate. In other words, you may want to start paying down that mountain of debt before you attempt to make a major career move. (Learn more in 5 Keys To Unlocking A Better Credit Score.)

  • Sign #5: The economy is in the toilet
    It's no secret that our nation is facing the worst recession since the Great Depression. So, does that mean no one should seek out a new career right now? Of course not. However, many professionals who do make a career jump during these tumultuous times may end up regretting it later.

    When companies are forced to lay off employees, they typically cut the newer workers first. Therefore, if you make a career move right now and soon after your new employer decides to reduce its staff, you may be the first to go. To add insult to injury, you may end up with a minuscule severance package if you score one at all since you've only been at the company for a few months. However, if you had stayed put in your old job where you'd been working for many years, you may not have been laid off at all. And if you were, you would've received a much fatter severance package.

Obviously, there are plenty of golden opportunities to switch careers in this current volatile job market. However, it's important to do your homework, weigh your options and think things through before you take such a risky leap.

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