In a time when professionals have more opportunities than ever, you may find yourself debating whether you should start looking for a new job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent jobs report, current trends such as the country’s low unemployment rate and increasing labor force participation rate are indicative of a job market where professionals are growing more confident in their ability to land a new job. As a result, a new study by LinkedIn found that over the past 20 years, the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled.
However, while it’s still considered good form to put in time at a company to gain experience and show loyalty and dedication, there is a certain point when it’s perfectly acceptable—if not preferable—that an employee move on.
So how do you know when that time has come for you at your current position? If you’re experiencing any of these red flags, it could be time to hit the job search:
You’re stagnating. An employee’s growth at a company is two-fold: it takes effort from both the professional and from the employer. While you should take professional development in your own hands as much as possible, there comes a point at which your growth can be hindered by an employer if they aren’t giving you opportunities for improvement and internal mobility. Any position that results in a dead-end—either because you’ve grown as much as you can in that role, or because there was no room for growth to begin with—is often one worth leaving, which is something many professionals have begun recognizing as professional development becomes increasingly important to them. In fact, respondents to our Hiring Outlook survey cited lack of advancement opportunities as the top reason why they would leave a company.
You’re constantly stressed or unhappy. Every job has different expectations and varying levels of stress; for example, if you’re in a taxing high-level position, it could be possible that you experience more stress than some of your other peers. However, if you’re stressed out regularly just by the thought of going to work—not by the occasional deadline-driven project, which is just situational and can happen in any position—this is a good sign that you’re better off moving on. Maintaining high levels of stress for long periods of time can affect your mental and physical health, which an engaging and fulfilling role should never do.
Your talents and/or hard work go unnoticed. When an employer notices and appreciates your skills and efforts, they make it known. Even in large companies where there is less one-on-one interaction, there should be some kind of acknowledgement, whether it be a raise, promotion, or a good year-end review. If it’s been a while since you’ve felt appreciated at your job, that’s a bad sign—and although money shouldn’t be your sole focus, this includes not being paid what you’re worth.
You only stick around for the money. Many are familiar with the saying “money can’t buy happiness,” yet many stay in jobs that fill their Sunday nights with dread because of an impressive paycheck. While it’s important to be sure you’re paid what you’re worth, the extra bump in pay isn’t always necessarily worth the additional stress. If pay day is the only part of your job that excites you, it’s time to look for a position that offers good pay and a healthier mind-set.
The grass (always) looks greener on the other side. It’s possible, if not common, for happily employed professionals to come across an exciting job posting or hear about a friend’s new job and experience a bit of jealousy. However, when every job out there sounds much better than what you’re doing—even if it’s something you’re overqualified for, or outside your field entirely—that could be a good sign that you’re ready to call it quits. The best thing to do at that point is identify what these other jobs have to offer that your current position doesn’t, and start scoping out a job at an organization that has those qualities. In many cases, discontent with a position is heavily linked to discontent with the organization itself, and so a clean break from the company altogether is usually the best solution once another opportunity is lined up.