Long gone are the days of joining an organization at the beginning of your career and staying until retirement. In the new career marketplace it's not "if" you leave for current company or organization for a new opportunity, but "when"? However, there are several factors professionals should consider before determining it's time to leave:
1. Are Your Reasons for Leaving Valid?
Whenever you decide to leave your company or organization, it's essential that you give serious thought as to "why" you feel the need to leave? Is it for a role that allows you to enhance your skills? Does it afford you a higher salary or bigger title? Are you leaving for a more relevant industry or larger (or smaller) organization that better suits you career goals?
Or, are you frustrated by the lack support from your current boss? Could it be that you don't see opportunities for advancement? These can all be valid reasons, however, it's essential that you take time to examine your "real" reasons for wanting to leave and make certain that you are not making a decision without considering all the implications of your decision. You could be in a great company that may just be in a temporary slump? The frustration you feel working for your current boss might be better handled with better communication and feedback? Opportunities for advancement could be available in your current organization, but perhaps you haven't adequately pursued them?
Remember, starting over at a new organization means having to "prove" yourself all over again, developing a new network within the organization, learning a new organizational culture, and cultivating new mentors and sponsors.
2. Is the grass really "Greener" at the new organization?
I've found that when you are taking on a new role at a new organization, there are actually two roles: the role you "thought" you were hired for, and the one you actually get! Recruiters and hiring managers tend to focus on the positive aspects of the role during the interview process. They tell you about the new title, the bigger salary, the bright future. No doubt recruiters for Border's, Blockbuster Video and WorldCom painted rosy pictures until the bitter end.
The reality is, EVERY organization has it's business challenges, cultural idiosyncrasies, and frustration points. Large organizations can be extremely bureaucratic, start-up companies can lack the resources you are accustomed to, and older organizations can have "cult-like" cultures that discourage individual creativity. So, before you leave to join that new company, do your homework to learn as much as you can about them. You don't want to jump from the frying pan into the fire! There's nothing worse than having the "right" role in the wrong organization or industry.
3. Does this new role "fit" within your Career Roadmap?
Most professionals spend more time planning their vacations than their careers. As such, they can build a resume of disjointed, unrelated roles that confuses others as to your value and dilutes or minimizes your brand. Make sure to take time to plan what you want your career to ultimately look like. I suggest identifying what role or job you want to be in when you retire, then work backwards. What skills will I need to have developed over my career to end up in such a role? P&L experience? International experience? Will I need to have worked in various functional capacities (Marketing, Finance, Operations, etc.)
By asking these and other questions, you'll be able to make a well thought out, logical (not emotional), and strategic career move!