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How to Know When it's a ‘Good Time’ to Move on to a New Opportunity

Whether you’re early in your career or decades in, knowing when it’s a good time to move to a new company will always be a challenge, and the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. While there are many potential reasons to look for new opportunities, not all of them will be good ones—particularly in retrospect. If you’re considering a move, be sure to tease out whether your motivation is just a passing emotion, or if it’s actually the right time for something new.

When it is a good time

It’s time for a career change

If you’re looking to change job functions and your current company doesn’t offer the opportunity to do so, it may be a good time to look elsewhere—but not before having an honest conversation with your manager about the potential of moving within the company.

In addition, be explicit with your new potential employer about the role you’re looking for and the progression you expect once you make the switch. The last thing you want is to go to the effort of securing and starting a new role, only to find out it’s the same as your old one.

You’ve tried — failed — to get feedback

If you’ve sought feedback and come back empty handed—whether you were looking for insights into the lack of a promotion or you’re just curious about how others perceive your performance—it may be time to look for new opportunities. Employers should be able to justify why they make their hiring and promotion decisions, as well as provide employees with feedback to help them progress professionally. Not getting the feedback you’re looking for from your current company is reason enough to look for new opportunities—but be sure to look for signs from the new employer that you’ll receive the professional guidance you’re seeking.

Your growth has stagnated, and efforts to change that have been unsuccessful

While throwing in the towel after one missed promotion can be a missed learning opportunity, persistently slow or nonexistent career growth is certainly a legitimate reason to look for something new. If you’ve already sought feedback and demonstrated that you’ve adapted accordingly—and still feel the company isn’t allowing you to grow or take on new responsibilities—it may be time to look for roles that offer better upward mobility.

Not-so-great reasons to leave

You didn’t get a raise or promotion

It can be tempting to throw your hands up if a review cycle has passed without the positive news you were hoping for, but don’t jump to the conclusion that going elsewhere will solve your problems. In fact, if there’s a particular reason you’re not being promoted that has to do with performance or working style, jumping ship may exacerbate the problem if you don’t receive the feedback that will allow you to improve.

Rather than going straight to the job boards, set up a conversation with your manager to understand the reasoning for keeping you at your current level, as well as the best course of action for bettering your chances of advancing in the next review cycle. In addition to speaking with your manager, it can be helpful to seek informal feedback from peers, both to demonstrate to higher-ups that you’re proactive about career progression and to get insights that wouldn’t normally come out of a formal review session.

You have a problem with a colleague

While there are certain times when an issue with a colleague necessitates a company move, most circumstances can be handled less drastically. Working with difficult people is often a fact of life, so learning how to handle them may actually be more valuable than running away from the issue. Further, many interviewers ask for examples of times you’ve handled a difficult colleague, so think about the learning experience as interview fodder.

While the best course of action depends on the difficulty you have with the person, it can often be helpful to speak with them directly, or to your manager if you’re unable to get anywhere with them. Avoid talking behind their back, as doing so can easily come back to bite you—and you don’t want to become the person someone else has a problem with.

You’ve gotten another offer

Tech talent is a hot commodity and tech companies are abundant, so you should evaluate new opportunities carefully. In addition to the salary you’ve been offered, consider factors such as career growth, the team you’ll be working with, and how excited you are about what the company is doing. It’s important to recognize your value and not to get carried away by new opportunities that aren’t right for you.

Further, if you’re happy in your current role, another offer can sometimes be used as negotiating leverage to help secure a promotion within your company, as employers would often prefer to meet employee requests to hiring someone new.