How to Know When to Go to a New Job or Stay Put

You’ve hit a wall. Your work is no longer challenging or rewarding. You feel an urge to grow but your career has grown stale. You used to rise from bed with enthusiasm every morning. Now, you kind of just flop.

While you used to find pride and accomplishment at work, lately you’re been wondering if you can’t do better somewhere else. So, how do you know when it’s time to go or to stay put? Here are five questions to help you answer that.

What’s wrong with my current situation?

Many people feel a sense of malaise at work, while others outright hate their jobs. But they rarely provide reasons beyond a vague sense of dislike. That’s a problem. If you don’t know specifically why you want to go, you may leave one unenviable position only to discover the same problems waiting at the next.

Reasons you may find your current job unsatisfactory include:

Whether you stay or go, your decision needs to be made with intention. Know exactly what you want to change and look for the best means to facilitate it.

Can I improve the situation here?

Once you’ve defined the problem, you may find it more beneficial—and less time consuming—to improve the situation at your current job.

Say you are constantly interrupted by a micromanager who isn’t your boss. Any company can house micromanagers, so a new job is a roll of the dice. Your best bet is to kindly discuss the disruptive behavior, first with the offending coworker and then moving up the chain of command.

Of course, there are problems you can’t improve. Say your supervisors actively promote falsifying company performance. You want no part in that company culture. Get out.

How do other jobs compare?

You can remove a lot of guesswork by slowing down and performing a comparison, especially if you already have a new job lined up.

Create a list of things you want out of your job—company values, growth opportunities, learning a particular industry, and networking potential. Next a list of needs—salary, benefits, and work-life balance essentials. Then determine which job aligns best with your list.

There will still be doubts. For example, you can’t know how well you’ll get on with new colleagues until you work with them. But this exercise reveals what you need to thrive in your career and life, potentially making your decision much easier.

Do I show a history of this?

Even with a new job lined up, this is an important question to ask. Yes, job hopping is more common today than ever, and yes, it can boost your career by giving you a leg up, expanding your network, and increasing your salary.

However, a resume littered with short tenures alerts future employers. It signals a lack of direction and follow-through and is a red flag for restlessness and dissatisfaction.

Job hoppers should ask themselves, “How soon is too soon to leave?” They should also question whether it’s the jobs or something more personal that propels them to keep moving.

Where do I want to be in five years?

Where you want to take your career and life should inform all your above answers.

Do you feel anxiety swelling up at the prospect of doing this job in five years? Then consider a new one. Do you love the work but find aspects distracting and unproductive? Stick around to see if you can improve or mitigate those.

Never answer whether to go to a new job or stay put out of fear or anger. It must always be answered with intention as part of a greater life plan. This final question requires you to see that plan.

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