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Feeling the itch to leave a job is a natural occurrence that happens to everyone at some point in their career. Many will leave for new opportunities and many will stay but hopefully, whatever the decision is, it is the right one for that particular career crossroad.

But how do you know if you should stay or go? Spend some time reflecting on the following:

Why do I feel the need to leave?

A good starting point is to really drill down on what it is making you feel like you want to leave. Pinpointing your reasons for leaving will provide you with clarity on what your next step should be so ask yourself:

  • Are you bored / under stimulated?
  • Is it your office culture?
  • Have you hit an advancement ceiling?
  • Are there systemic company issues?
  • Do you feel stressed, overworked or unsupported?
  • Is it because you believe you’re underpaid?
  • Are yours / the company’s values misaligned?

If one of those areas hit the nail on the head, then explore what specifically about that pressure point is causing the issue. E.g. if you are stressed, what is it causing you stress about your job? Is it the commute, a particular employee, working long hours? Etc.

Can the problem be fixed by simply talking to my boss?

One of the first questions we generally ask candidates is “have you spoken to your current employer about your problem? Would he/she be able to fix it?”

Finding staff replacements is no easy task so 9 times out of 10, an employer will look to fix issues where they can for their employees. If stimulation for example is the issue, they may well be able to put you on different projects or diversify your tasks. If you feel underpaid, addressing this may net you a pay increase. If you’re feeling overworked, there may be capacity to take some tasks off your desk. If you like your company and don’t necessarily want to leave, asking the question is your first point of call.

On the other hand, if the issue is cultural or systemic (or if your boss is actually the issue) or you do ask but there is no way the problem can be solved, then there may be no other option but to look for a new role.

Knowing your problem can’t be fixed (rather than assuming) will make your decision to leave easier and ensure another potential employers’ time won’t be wasted if you accept a counter offer with what you wanted from your current employer to begin with.

What do I want from my next career move?

Once you’ve addressed why you want to leave and know that it cannot be fixed by your current employer, your next step is to really nut out what it is that you are looking for in your next career move.

In this, there may be areas where you will need to compromise so think about what you are willing to be flexible on and what is non-negotiable. Knowing what these are will help streamline your search and increase the likelihood of obtaining your ideal position.