We all know that it is very unlikely that anyone is going to stay with the same company for 40 years, collect a watch and a pension, and then go off into a blissful, stress-free retirement. Those days are over, and in the new era of work, it is incumbent upon the individual to take responsibility for managing her own career. Hopefully, you are evaluating your current role and company on an ongoing basis, and are thinking about what you would like to do in the immediate future, and in the longer term. But how do you know when it’s time to make a move? Here are five factors that can make that decision crystal clear:
No room for advancement/lack of growth. You’ve been in the same role for the past three years, and as you look around, you realize that there is nowhere for you to go within your current organization. Many times, the only way to advance in your career is to take your skills and experiences to a new employer.
Current role is not using your marketable skills. You are a great writer who happens to be fluent in French. In your current role, you’re conducting a lot of financial analyses, and you’re working with an offshore team in Russia. You begin to feel that your skills and intellect are being squandered, and you become bored. This is a clear indication that it is time to seek a new role.
You want to realign your career path. You have worked extensively with global teams in the past, and are especially adept at cross-border negotiations. In your current role, you’ve been managing a portfolio of products that are sold exclusively into the US market. You decide that you want to go back to working with a global team, but your current employer only does business in the US.
Commute/work-life issues. I am always surprised at how many managers discount the impact that lengthy commutes can have on employees. Most employees care more about the time it takes to get to work than the distance. Traveling 20 miles in the Boston or Los Angeles areas can be untenable, but 20 miles in Omaha is not that bad. If your commute is taking a toll on other areas of your life, and your employer is unwilling or unable to offer anything in terms of workplace flexibility, it might be time to look for a position closer to home, or one with policies to help employees deal with lengthy commutes, such as telecommuting options or staggered start times.
You are underpaid. This is an absolutely valid reason for leaving your employer and an incredibly common one. Let us dispense with the notion that wanting to be paid more, or to be paid a market rate, is somehow crass. People go to work in to earn money. That’s why it’s called “compensation,” and not “cocktail hour.” Although it is possible to increase your pay by negotiating a raise or taking a promotion, it usually takes a move outside of your current employer to affect a meaningful change in your wallet.
Take a professional inventory. If any of these five issues applies to you, it might be time to start looking around for your next role.