Leaving your current company is a tough decision. There's always a risk that a new opportunity might not actually be a better opportunity. Being risk adverse is not a good reason to stay in a bad situation. It is important to push your career forward.
So how do you know when it is time to move on? Here are some signs that it is time to start looking for a new career opportunity.
You Dread Going To Work
Sunday rolls around and that feeling of dread starts and intensifies throughout the day. You think, "only a few more hours of the weekend and then I have to go to bed, wake up, and start a whole week of work."
If this is a once in a while thing where you are dreading a particularly busy week, that is not really something to worry about. When you are experiencing this week after week, it's time to make a change.
Although naturally most people would rather be at home or on vacation than in the office, it's not healthy to actively dread going to work each week or day. The next step is to identify what aspects of your job are making you miserable so you know what will make you happy. Even if you feel desperate to leave, jumping at an offer just to leave is not the answer.
You're Not Learning Anymore
You might feel like an expert since you can do your job on autopilot, but if you are truly no longer learning, that is a red flag. You always want to be moving forward in your career. If you are not learning, it likely means you are stagnating in your career or not performing to your full potential.
Maybe you are a senior software engineer and feel like you know pretty much everything about the code. In that case, you could take on a leadership position and learn about leading and managing others. Maybe you could get more involved with the business side of things and learn about how businesses work.
If you are driving and could take the highway that is backed up with traffic or the back roads that are clear, if both will get you to your destination in an hour, which one would you take? Probably the back roads. It's not necessarily faster in this situation, but as humans, we feel good when we're moving forward and making progress. Even though we do not know where our careers will take us, we know we need to continue moving forward to get there.
If you are not currently in a position where you have the opportunity to expand your horizons, try talking to your manager before jumping ship. You might be able to shift to take on some more challenging work. If you cannot get this remedied with your manager, then it may be time to switch jobs.
There's Not Enough Work
People joke about wanting to do nothing all day at work but for most of us (hopefully), that is not something we really want. It gets boring having to sit at a desk with nothing to do and you'll be pulling your hair out by lunch.
Not having enough to do signifies a problem. Your company pays you because your value to them is worth more than what they pay you. If you are not doing work, your value decreases. If you are not doing enough work to justify your salary, you are on the layoff list. When work is dwindling for an extended period of time, layoffs are coming.
You could volunteer for more tasks, but if there are not enough to go around, then it is time to start looking. Why keep yourself in that precarious position? Get a head start and update your resume.
Everyone has good and bad things about their job. Really think about what you like and do not like about your job. If your problem is you don't feel like working and the cliched "you want to be your own boss", then a new job is not what you need. You actually have a ton of work ahead of you on the road to being your own boss.
A job search can be a long process with lots of work updating resumes, writing cover letters, and filling out applications but is worth it if you find the right opportunity that will propel your career. The key is to realistically figure out what you want and work for and wait for the job that will give you that. It may take months while you feel desperate to leave but you owe it to yourself to find the right opportunity. Applying for jobs is moving forward so take solace in that fact.