How do you know when it is time to switch jobs? There is not always an obvious answer to this question. There is opportunity cost associated with every decision you make. You certainly do not want to end up with a less desirable job than you already have. You also need a structured process for determining when you should switch. Job switch timing depends on numerous factors that are unique to your situation. Outlined in the section below are some factors that will help you decide when it is the right time to change jobs. You may not find all of these factors relevant to your situation, but they should provide food for thought when you are considering a change.
This is one of the most important reasons that you should switch jobs. If you are no longer challenged, you will soon become bored. If you stay for too long in an unchallenging environment, you will become robotic and disengaged. Unless you are looking for a job to coast into retirement, you should seek out a position that is going to challenge you and keep you interested in your career choice.
If you are not learning, then you are becoming obsolete. You do not want to wake up one day without a job, and a set of skills that nobody wants. Learning new things makes you more valuable, gives you negotiating leverage, and provides you with more security. Who wouldn't want that?
You will find that you perform better, learn more, and are more motivated when working with people smarter than yourself. Your time and ability to learn is finitely constrained by numerous factors. You should place yourself in situations that maximize your learning potential.
Have your earnings stagnated over a period of two or three years? This may be an indication that you are not growing professionally. Maybe you are not learning new things, or you are not taking on new responsibilities. Whatever the reason, it is typically an indication that your career may have stalled, and it may be time to seek new opportunities.
If your boss is unfair, your co-workers are hostile, or you just do not enjoy going to work anymore, it may be a good time to move on. There are plenty of organizations that can provide you with a positive culture. While you may think that you are able to handle a toxic environment, you will eventually become unmotivated and your career will suffer as a result.
You do not want to work in an organization that does not value the true contributions of a great software engineer. These organizations typically do not hire top engineers. When they do have top engineers on staff, they will not stick around long. These companies are often laggards on the technology adoption curve, and their code base is not pretty. You will prefer to work in organizations where engineers take pride and ownership in what they do.
Organizational culture is not always static. Sometimes your life situation changes in ways that make certain cultures less desirable. Maybe you no longer want to continually travel due to your family obligations. Maybe you have grown tired of large company politics, and would like to work at a small startup. If the shoe no longer fits, you should begin seeking an organization that is more culturally suited to your current life situation.
You might be doing your job well, but if you are not leveraging your strongest skills, you might want to consider a new position. You probably prefer to spend most of your time doing the things that you do best. If you are not put in situations that leverage your best skills, you may become frustrated by your performance and your situation.
However, you may be trying to transition out of an area that you excelled in previously and are developing new skills and competencies. In these situations, try to think of ways to incorporate your strongest skills to help you during your transition.
A better offer is not just about money. It could be a position that offers the opportunity to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, or work on things that you personally find more fulfilling. If you get an offer that is better overall than your current position, why wouldn't you take it?
If you are not excited to go to work, you should conduct a serious situation evaluation. Life is too short to spend significant time doing things that you do not enjoy. I was once asked during an interview what I would do if the job became boring. I told the interviewers that I would move on to a place that had more interesting challenges. I did not get an offer.
When discussing with the recruiter later, he said the company really would have liked to offer me the position. However, the hiring manager was not comfortable with my remark about moving on. Apparently they were looking for somebody who would be willing to stick around for a number of years once the new product was in maintenance mode. After hearing this feedback, I realized that the position wouldn't have been a good fit for me.
Develop your own list of things that are important to you. Use it as your job switch decision making framework. Don't be lulled into complacency when you realize it is time to move on. Staying at an organization that no longer fits you is much costlier than you may realize. Dust off your resume, and start searching.
Are you looking for a new software development job? Make sure you know what types of companies should be avoided. Learn about the characteristics of poor software development organizations in this article.