With the economy beginning to loosen up, moving on may actually be an option. Here are nine reasons you might want to:
1. It's Groundhog Day, again
Some people thrive on predictability and sameness. If you don’t, eventually doing the same thing every day is going to make you feel like your brain is being slowly sucked out of your nose. But the sad fact is that sometimes, you are more convenient to the powers that be where you are, and if the client really, really loves your first-thing-in-the-AM media clip reports, you might be stuck. Unless and until you're not.
2. You’ve hit a ceiling
Companies are shaped like triangles: there are fewer people at the top, and more people at the bottom. If you’re ready to move up, but people who occupy the layer above you aren’t going anywhere, you can stay where you are and hope something changes, look for a different opportunity at the same company or look around. If patience isn’t your strong suit, door number three is your best bet.
3. The writing’s on the wall
Closed door meetings, whispered conversations, groups of important looking people in dark suits whose presence is not explained. Some people will tell you that loyalty is an important quality and accuse you of being an ingrate, but here’s the thing: it only works one way, and any company will can you in a New York minute if the numbers are coming out wrong. If inexplicable things are happening and you have the opportunity (or can create the opportunity) to move, do it.
4. You need a raise
Every company has limited resources—and every boss has limited dollars to allocate. Why pay someone $50K when you can get him or her for $45K (or when you already have them for $45K?) Most decent sized raises come with rank promotions—from senior account executive to account director, or from director to VP—but the biggest salary jumps come from changing jobs. Don’t fight it, grok it—and when you jump, make the biggest jump you can.
5. Your personal credibility is at stake
Whether you’re the face of a company or representing a company on the agency side, you put your reputation on the line every time you pick up the phone or shoot an e-mail to a journalist or blogger. If the story you’re being asked to tell isn’t true, it’s time to go.
6. Your boss rewrites your stuff
Some bosses are happy to see good work from their employees. Others find it threatening. If your boss is constantly rewriting your stuff, it’s definitely worth asking for feedback—what was he or she trying to accomplish that your version did not? But if they can’t provide a clear answer—in other words, if theirs is not actually better, just different—you may be dealing with a control freak or someone who’s threatened by your talents. Take them elsewhere.
7. Opportunity knocks
Sometimes everything is fine at work—until the phone rings. What should you do? Pick it up. Why? Two reasons. First, if there’s a good job out there, why shouldn’t one of your friends get it (assuming you take a pass)? Second—you may be fine, but if fantastic is calling, listen up—it’s free.
8. “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Years ago, when I was considering leaving teaching, I told a few people what I was thinking. “You can’t quit, you’re a great teacher,” they said What they did not understand was that my priorities had shifted: I cared less about teaching than I did about being nearby to care for my aging parents and help my newly-single sister with her kids. In other words, the job hadn’t changed; I had. It happens. Trust your gut.
9. You cry on Sunday nights
When I was in graduate school, studying American history, I invented the phrase “a confluence of factors,” a great phrase that can explain not only almost any historical development, but also life itself, and jobs. Sometimes there’s no one thing that’s wrong—just a lot of things that aren’t really right. And as a result of this confluence of factors, you get super depressed on Sunday nights. Trust me on this: even if you can’t put your finger on precisely why, if you cry on Sunday nights, it’s time to look around.
And remember your princess manners—or, as my super intelligent grandmother used to advise, “Never burn a bridge you may need to re-cross.” Communications is a small world: do yourself a big favor and behave yourself impeccably on the way out the door, knowing you’ll likely see these folks again as colleagues or clients.
Beth Haiken is the VP of corporate citizenship & communications at Waypoint Homes, Inc. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.