Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group
Photograph by Terry Gruber

If you choose to leave, you want the decision to come as the result of careful thinking, not impulse.

By Edward Fleischman
September 19, 2015

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs? is written by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.

You’ve been with your company for a few years. You’ve accomplished a lot and have gotten along well with your coworkers, but for the past few months, something hasn’t felt right. You now feel unfulfilled and unchallenged, and you’re wondering if you should find a new job. The decision to leave shouldn’t be taken lightly. Therefore, it’s vital to balance your instinct to quit with a measured approach in order to avoid making a hasty decision you might regret down the line.

People begin to feel career stagnation for a variety of reasons. It may be because their role or the company as a whole is restricting growth, but either case can leave an employee with the sense that he or she has limited opportunities going forward. Some people also find that, with time, they have moved away from the company’s mission. They often still like their colleagues, but find it hard to stay invested in the work itself. I have seen this happen with people across sectors from finance to nonprofit: After years of working for the same company, the individual does not feel aligned with the organization’s mission.

If you start to feel this way, you should begin to make a list of the pros and cons of staying with the company. You don’t want to rush your decision, so put your list away for a few days and only take it out when new pros and cons come to mind. After a period of about a month, evaluate the list to see if the pros outweigh the cons — not just in terms of quantity, but how important each is to your long-term career success. Writing down and structuring your thinking will help you make a more reasoned judgment. If you do choose to leave, you want the decision to come as the result of careful thinking, not impulse.

See also: 3 signs it’s time to switch jobs

If you are looking to make some type of change, but want to stay with the company, you can also bring your supervisor into the conversation. By vocalizing your desire to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities, your supervisor may be able to help you add variety to your typical workload. For example, he or she could help you get a role in a different division or branch, or give you different responsibilities in your current role, which would add new elements to your work without a promotion or move within the company.

On the other hand, analyzing your list of pros and cons may have led you to the conclusion that you need to pursue opportunities at a different organization. If that is the case, your list can better inform your job search. Look through job descriptions for your top-ranked pros from your current role, and be sure to look out for any red flags that remind you of the reasons why you are leaving your job. For example, if you feel stagnant in your current role, be sure to inquire about potential growth opportunities with any prospective employer.

When contemplating a move, it’s important to take the time to reflect on both the positive and negative aspects of your job. By doing so, you should be able to make a truly informed decision about whether leaving is the right choice for your long-term career goals.

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