There are a lot of things to consider when deciding when and why to move on. To begin with, you need to assess where you are now, what you have achieved and where you want to be in a few years time.
What do you enjoy about your present job? What don’t you enjoy? What do you feel is missing? What have you enjoyed about any previous roles you have done? What is the ideal situation for you? How will you know when you have achieved it? What obstacles are in your way? What can you do to overcome them?
Try to be systematic in answering these questions. Discuss them with friends, family or a professional career change expert and write them down. It’s always easier to make an accurate assessment of a situation if it’s clearly staring back at you from a piece of paper.
As well as your own personal motives for wanting to change jobs, there are plenty of other reasons out of your control that cause you to leave your current position, including:
- potential financial difficulties for your employer
- your company moving into an area of business you don’t agree with
- a culture change in your company caused by a takeover or merger
- a collapse in communication with your manager or colleagues
Spotting when the time is right
If you do decide to leave a job, quitting at the wrong time can hit you in the pocket if you’re not careful. For example, leaving just before your big bonus is due is not very sensible. It’s a good idea to think about whether you’re currently paid in advance or in arrears as any change may affect your monthly cash flow.
If you’ve got a holiday planned, wait until you get back before handing in your notice. Your new employer won’t take kindly to you booking two weeks off during your probation period.
Because so many people take time off during summer and winter, May and October are often prime times to look for a new job. In preparation for a lot of their workforce being away, employers look to train up new recruits to cover the anticipated gaps. On the other hand, you may be missing out on overtime opportunities in your current role if you leave before the holiday period is over.
Leave in a position of strength
Once you’ve made the decision to leave, make sure you have somewhere to go before handing in your notice. Don’t be tempted to storm off in a huff or make some sort of statement if it means leaving yourself vulnerable. It’s much easier to find a job when you already have one. Long periods of unemployment sends out a bad signal to a future employer, with all sorts of questions about why you left, and could leave you out of work for longer than you think.
Don’t ignore the consequences of quitting before you have a new job lined up, no matter how much you dislike where you’re working. Apart from looking bad as you start applying for new jobs, voluntarily leaving your former role could compromise your eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Money shouldn’t be the only reason
If money is the overriding issue in your desire for change, have the courage to address it before thinking about leaving. Find out the going rate for your job and, if you don’t feel you’re getting paid enough, ask for more. This can be a scary experience, but it could solve your problem. If your request is turned down, then you can take a view on whether it’s the right time to leave. If you have the option to think in the long term, you may even consider taking a pay cut, but moving to a company where the career progression and wage increases will occur more regularly.