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 Shadan Deleveaux, co-founder of Technology For Families in Need.
One of the career questions I get most frequently from people is, “How do you know if it’s the right time to change jobs?” Like many career situations, the answer to this question is incredibly nuanced. There are numerous reasons that people have their current jobs. Some people have them out of necessity — they may need the salary or benefits for basic survival. Others may be at their current companies due to the work-life balance or a deeply held conviction for the importance of the work they’re doing and the sense of fulfillment that comes from it. Some people are at companies for no other reason than inertia — for them it is easier to stay somewhere rather than to leave and find a new place to work. Regardless of why you are at your current job, deciding whether it is time to leave requires an immense amount of self-reflection. Here are some of the things you should consider before jumping ship:
Why did you pursue the job?
To know whether it’s time to leave a place, first you must understand what brought you in the door. What brought you to the company originally? Was there a new opportunity for learning? Was it a way to see or do something new? Was it a way to build an undeveloped skillset? Once you understand what was initially attractive about the opportunity, you can evaluate whether it’s still true for you. Once you answer this question you are better equipped for the next steps.
What are you getting?
After assessing what brought you to a company, it is important to take an in-depth look at your current situation. What does your job provide for you? Maybe it’s the title, exposure, prestige or the skill-building opportunities. It is incredibly important to be thorough in your benefits evaluation. Go beyond the remuneration. People frequently take certain benefits of their job for granted after being there for a while, so it may help to enlist a trusted friend or advisor to help you create your list and fill in some blind spots.
What’s important to you?
One of the most important questions to ask during this period of self-reflection is, “Given my current life situation, what are my professional priorities?” Professional priorities should be continually reassessed since they will likely change based on what is happening in your life at the moment. The original reasons that you accepted a job may no longer be relevant for you. By looking at what your job provides and subtracting the things that are important to you, you arrive at the deficiencies in your current situation. What is it that has you dissatisfied and is it something that can be addressed by making changes within your role at your current company? If not, then it may be time to start exploring external options.
What are your options?
In negotiations, one of the most fundamental concepts to understand is your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (your BATNA). Basically, what are your options if you can’t settle on an agreement with the other party? Similarly, when it comes to the possibility of leaving your job, you need to understand your BASP — your Best Alternative to Staying Put. If you go through this process and recognize that you have another opportunity that will provide you with most of the things that are important and relevant to you, while it may be hard, it could be time to say goodbye and pursue greener pastures. Whether you decide to stay or leave, always maintain your professionalism and never burn bridges.
Real all responses to the Leadership Insider question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs?
3 signs it’s time to switch jobs by Karen Appleton, SVP of industry at Box.
This is how long you should wait before quitting a job by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.