Sometimes this can be an easy question to answer – if you’re moving to a new city, facing a pending layoff, offered a promotion, etc. But often, I think people keep an eye on what’s out there while not really committing to the job hunt. There is a difference between the passive and the pro-active job search.
Passive searchers watch for something better to come along, but are pretty comfortable in their current job. Pro-active searchers already know they are leaving their current job and are now actively applying and (hopefully) interviewing for a new position. How do you know when to make that transition?
For me, I was given some advice once that no one should dread going to work. Sure, there are particular days you might dread – days with boring meetings or terrible projects that you just have to ‘get through’ – but we shouldn’t dread going to work in general every day.
Based on this, I made a rule: If you dread going to work every day for two weeks straight, it’s time to find a new job.
When I say dread, I am talking about that feeling where you wish you had the flu just so you could stay home from work. If that is happening consistently, and you can’t find any reason to look forward to your job, then start your job hunt. Life is too short to spend every day at a job where you’re miserable.
Take note, though, if your sense of dread comes from some specific issue that, if resolved, would cause you to enjoy your job again (disagreement with a coworker, unrealistic expectations from your boss, lack of support or flexibility) then you should try to resolve the issue if possible. Talk to your manager or an HR representative to see what can be done.
If you’re still on the fence, the article above can provide some more decision making help, or check out, Should You Stay in Your Job? Here’s How to Know, from Harvard Business Review.