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How do I Know if It's Time to Change Jobs?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Most employees wonder whether they ought to make career changes or keep working for the same company. It’s definitely not uncommon for people to decide it’s time to change jobs, and in fact, the US shows that people change jobs frequently during their lifetimes, or even may have several different careers throughout their working years. The question of whether it is time to change jobs is still a complicated issue and should require consideration of several factors.

Of course, many people make this decision because they are unhappy at their present job. Before deciding it’s time to change jobs, you may want to consider the source of this unhappiness and whether it is possible to fix it at your current place of employment. Perhaps you are not being compensated enough, and this might be changed through salary negotiation. You may be unhappy at home, which is transferring to unhappiness at work. Really analyze this, perhaps by doing some writing or listing of positives and negatives in your current job, before making the leap to another position, or quitting without one.

The following include some common reasons which may indicate it’s time to change jobs. You may not be getting paid enough for your experience or dedication to work, and the company shows no sign of giving you better compensation. You may not fit in socially with your workmates. You have managers or management who don’t manage constructively or well, resulting in a great deal of stress or unhappiness on your part.

Another reason you may want to change jobs is if you understand that layoffs in your company are imminent. If the company plans to lay off a huge amount of workers, it may be in your best interest not to wait for this to occur, but to move on to a better company or career now, when possible. Most people who have undergone large company layoffs cite the difficulty of finding a job when you’re out of work and feel that it’s much better to take another job while you’re still employed. Alternately, if you feel you might be fired in the very near future, changing jobs now may prevent your having to claim that you were fired on your resume.

The trouble with changing jobs, as most people can tell you in insecure economic times, is that company layoffs are common. If you enter a new job you tend to lose things like seniority in a company. This may impact how close you are to getting laid off in a new job environment, and may make the idea of changing jobs very frightening. You have to weigh the risk versus benefits when you think it is time to change jobs, and you might want to sock away things like hiring bonuses for emergency funds if you change jobs and then lose it.

Also, you should evaluate whether a problem rests with your work environment or with your work as an employee. If you are routinely disrespectful of others, late to work, or absent from work, or if you have a history of being unable to get along with other employees or managers, changing jobs may not solve the problem. Take a good look at your work history to decide whether you should possibly change the way you work instead of the place you work.

Some employment counselors say you should always be looking for your next job, since many people advance in their field by moving to different employers. Moreover many claim that you should always consider it time to change jobs if new and exciting job possibilities arise. This is in the main good advice, and it doesn’t hurt to have an active resume going, or to have a headhunter looking for your next great job. Even simply scanning the paper or sites like craigslist once a week may let you know if you are being adequately compensated and cared for at your present job. It never hurts to see what else may “out there” in your field, and to get your name out to employers that might be interested in you now or in the future.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By cafe41 — On Jul 13, 2010

BrickBack- I agree that changing a job should not be done hastily.

But many career changers often seek jobs in the teaching profession. Here the desirable work schedule and the ability to help children makes this a popular career choice for those looking for a new career path.

By BrickBack — On Jul 13, 2010

Excellent article- I agree that you need to find your source for unhappiness in your current job because if not you might end up with a similar situation with a new employer.

While salary is important, you really need to look at the whole picture because although a new employer might offer a higher salary, the working conditions might not be suitable for you.

The old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side” applies here.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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