When To Change Jobs: Step By Step Guide To Knowing When It’s Right

OK, so you might be thinking to yourself, “When is the right time to change jobs?” or “When should I change jobs?” If you have these questions in your mind, you aren’t alone. This is one of the most common internal questions that great employees ask themselves. It doesn’t mean that you are unhappy or doing a poor job, it could be that you are doing a fantastic job in your current role and you are starting to think about moving onto a new job simply because you’ve reached a ceiling at your current position. This is natural.

We’re going to cover a few situational examples which might help you determine if its the right timing to start changing positions.

Are you feeling unhappy

The first thing you have to ask yourself is if you are seeking to change jobs because you are unhappy. If this is the case then often times you might want to think about a few things before you make an irrational decision. Firstly, is your unhappiness something that can be solved by your employer? For example, in most cases, great employees are rewarded for coming to an employer and saying, “I’m unhappy and here’s why.” The employer, if they value you, will engage in the conversation and start to work with you to put together a plan to solve some of your issues. If they aren’t willing to solve some of your issues, and you are still feeling unhappy, then it might be time to move on.

The biggest takeaway here is, have you communicated to your manager or employer about your unhappiness? What I hear most often is that employees wish they would have communicated their issues with their current employer before having decided to leave the company. Usually, at the end of the working relationship, the employer will ask for feedback, and this information becomes available. And both the employer and the employee feel regret for not having resolved the issues before they decided to move on.

Are you performing well & it’s time to think about something new

This is the less common situation when examining if its time to change jobs. For those who are doing a great job in their current role but don’t have the opportunity to have upward mobility within the company, meaning to get promoted; then you might feel stuck as well. This feeling would be classified as feeling stuck, feeling that you aren’t very challenged, and feeling like the company may not be moving as quickly as it should be. If this is how you are feeling, you should sit down and start to examine the pros and cons to moving into a new company. Some of the con’s that you should really think about are:

  • The time it takes to gain the trust of your direct report or manager
  • The chemistry you have between yourself and your existing employer
  • The potential of waiting until the company grows alongside the industry as a whole

Often, when you are a few years into your existing job function, you might feel as though “things have slowed down.” Take a moment to think about what it will be like when you enter a new working environment. It is important to consider the opportunity that you have available to you right now simply because you’ve been apart of the companies story for a few years.

Consider talking to your employer and asking them to challenge you again. Explain you are feeling as though you could be providing more value to the business and are underutilized. That may spark a positive and collaborative discussion between you and your direct report which can allow you to advance yourself without having to go through the problems of interviewing with a new company, negotiating compensation, and developing a rapport with a new team.

If that doesn’t resonate with you, and you are feeling as though it is time to move jobs because you want to work with a company that has different qualities. For example, let's say the company you are currently at is only 30 people and you want to experience working with larger companies. Then you have some valid reasons for seeking out new challenges. Make sure you are considering your overall career path. And consider what outcome you are seeking within the next 5 years, 10 years and your lifetime. If the need to change jobs fits within that strategy, then it is time.

Patience is a virtue in the job

If none of those two factors above resonate with you, then the last situation is that you might be feeling as though the company has stalled out and isn’t going anywhere. And you are truly just feeling frustrated with the fact that the company isn’t advancing itself quick enough. If that feels closer to the issue you are having, consider the fact that oftentimes, leadership isn’t communicating company progress as often as you might think.

There are regulatory issues with telling large quantities of employees potential successful outcomes that are in the near future. For example, maybe the company is about to be acquired, in which you would most likely receive a large benefit (compensation or bonus) for having been with the company during this time. And in that situation, operators of this business aren’t often able to tell large quantities of employee’s, “Hey, we’re having discussions about being acquired, hold tight for the next 6 months.” That simply doesn’t happen.

There’s a number of reasons for that. But how do you know that’s the case? Consider the larger market your company is apart of. Are a large number of companies similar to yours being acquired? If so, maybe that’s the case. If there’s another factor, like maybe a large number of companies like yours starting to claim bankruptcy, then you may need to flip the script and consider leaving for “quiet times, negative reasons.”

If none of those situations feel accurate to your situation, then maybe you should spend the time to really think through what your primary reason is for wanting to change jobs. Have you analyzed the industry? Have you analyzed where the company is going? Have you analyzed where you want to go? Have you analyzed what your career path is? Go through the process to write it down and figure out which scenario best fits. After that, then make a decision. Avoid irrational, fast, emotional decisions which you might regret.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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