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How to Know When It’s Time to Leave a Job That No Longer Challenges You

If you’re finding yourself bored at work or feeling that you’ve already learned everything you can at the company, there may be an argument for seeking new opportunities—but don’t jump to conclusions without really thinking through the options. After all, looking for jobs is a source of stress for the large majority of people, so do your due diligence to figure out why you’re unhappy, and whether you truly need to find a new employer or if it’s something that can be remedied by taking on new challenges within your current company.

First things first: Figure out why you’re coasting

Employees can feel unchallenged for a variety of reasons—some of which certainly have to do with the company and role, but others more related to the individual. Once you’ve identified that your role is no longer challenging, dig a bit deeper to understand why that is, and whether there’s a remedy for it. For example, perhaps you’ve been in the same role for a while and are keen to take on more managerial responsibilities, but the opportunity to move up hasn’t yet been offered to you. Looking for new roles with different companies is one way to jump up the ladder, but you might be able to more quickly gain the experience you’re looking for by making it clear to your manager that you’re bored and ready for new responsibilities.

If you’ve already had these conversations, however, and you’re still feeling static in your role, there may be a case for looking for new opportunities. Whether it’s a structural barrier, personality conflict, or something else wrong with your current situation, it’s important to know when to keep pushing for advancement opportunities, and when to walk away.

Take initiative—even if your employer doesn’t

Even if you don’t feel your company is prioritizing your career advancement, there may still be valuable learning opportunities to be captured. Before throwing your hands up and rushing into a new role, it can be worth taking your own initiative to advance—or at least to learn something new.

First, be sure to have a good handle on how you’re being evaluated. Many companies set out performance metrics or KPIs, but if your employer doesn’t or you feel your performance is being evaluated on the wrong metrics, set out your own goals and measurement strategies and run them by your manager. You might be the only one who notices the misalignment between the surface metrics set by higher-ups and the actual value you’re adding to the company, so it can’t hurt to make your opinion heard.

In addition, seek feedback from your superiors, colleagues, and subordinates. Doing so can be valuable both because you’ll likely gain helpful insights into how others perceive your work, as well as because it’ll take time in a new role to develop trust and relationships, so you might as well leverage what you’ve already built. Once you’ve identified some areas for improvement, look for ways to grow while still in your current position. Who knows—you may find that demonstrating your own advancements creates opportunities in your current company, opening up the challenges you were seeking.

Lastly, seek to build relationships with senior leaders—and even peers—outside of your department. In addition to increasing your chances of success within the organization and potentially helping you discover new, interesting projects, this is a chance to expand your network while you’re still with the company, regardless of how long you end up staying.

Know when it’s time to bow out

If you’ve been seeking out new challenges—including checking in regularly with your manager and taking the initiative to find new opportunities within the company—and still find you’re hitting a wall, the reality could simply be that your time would be better spent elsewhere. There’s no hard and fast rule for when to leave a company, but if you’ve been unsuccessful in efforts to improve your current situation, there’s no shame in deciding to look outside for new opportunities.