Five Sure Signs It’s Time To Move On From Your Job

There will likely come a day in your career when you start to wonder if it's time to move on from your job to something new. In this day and age, the average person stays at their job for three years.

For example, at some point or another, you could be passed over for a raise or promotion. Hopefully, you'll set a goal to actually start strategizing about your future BEFORE an unfortunate event occurs.

Perhaps part of the reason why some men make more than some women is because men are more aggressive in having compensation talks with management.

Manage Your Managers To Get Paid And Promoted

Back when I was working on Wall Street, I made sure I had a very serious heart-to-heart talk every two years with my bosses about compensation and promotion. I very clearly laid out my goals about when I wanted to get promoted, and how much I was looking to make, in a respectful way of course.

Before each sit down, I made sure my performance to date was solid. I included a short five-to-eight page powerpoint presentation to demonstrate the progress of the business under my leadership.

The goal was to make it easy for them to pay and promote me, and it worked. By 27 I was promoted to VP and then to Director by 31 where I stayed for three years until I left to focus on writing.

Realizing It's Time To Move On From Your Job

Grey Skies On The Horizon

Towards the end of my career I knew that I would never reach Managing Director.

I would have needed to have relocated to Hong Kong or New York, and then prove myself for another three years before getting the nod.

My manager was at least five years older than me based in NY and wasn't even an MD. How the heck was I ever going to get ahead? I wasn't.

Once we realize our limitations, we must be happy with what we have or do something. I always like taking action, so I negotiated a severance.

Five Signs That You Should Move On From Your Job

Time to move on from your job

We always feel like we are a valuable part of a company. The truth of the matter is that we are ALL dispensable. Even if you are a rain maker who produces millions of dollars of revenue for the firm, you're replaceable.

Perhaps your boss simply doesn't like you or doesn't think you're the right age, sex, race, or whatever else his or her bias is.

The higher you go up the food chain, the more political everything gets. Below are five sure signs you should move on from your job.

1) Management doesn't include you in the interview process.

The one great thing about working at my previous two companies was the entire team was always involved in the hiring process. If you're hiring someone to work with your team for 50-60 hours a week, there should be consensus on the hire. After all, one bad apple spoils the bunch.

We had the most junior to the most senior people interview every candidate to make sure there wasn't something amiss. It makes for awkward situations if a new person joins a team, and not everybody on the team has met.

If management is not letting you interview a new candidate, watch out. It likely means they don't trust you or value your judgement. That's a sure warning sign to move on from your job.

2) You somehow always miss getting the calendar invite.

When management doesn't care about you, they forget about you. Not getting notified about important meetings, luncheons, happy hour functions, and launches is a bad sign. It means you are definitely not very important to the people who matter.

Maybe you just played a little too dumb to get ahead. It's the same thing when nobody ever criticizes you anymore. It means they just don't care. And if they don't care about you, you should move on from your job to something better.

3) You aren't cut from the same cloth.

Look around your office and notice the similarities. One female Managing Director I knew hired five consecutive females in a row to work on her team.

People are naturally biased towards people who look, talk, and act like them. Even if you produce nothing and just delegate work, if your image fits what management is looking for, you'll go much farther than a producer who doesn't fit the ideal mold.

Some management are very particular about image. They might be so image conscience that they are willing to sacrifice quality to fill a token role. If you are being pushed aside for someone who seems less qualified, know that it might be because of filling a quota for image's sake.

You might as well join the quiet quitting movement and do the minimum not to get fired!

4) Your boss hires someone to do something very similar to what you are doing already. 

If your manager is bringing in someone who has a very similar role you are doing now, alarm bells should be ringing.

Sure, management might say there is always room for the two of you. But, chances are, they are looking to go in a different direction.

It's pointless to argue with management about why they are making a mistake because they've probably thought this through for months. This is a definite warning sign to move on from your job.

If you've been thinking about taking a sabbatical, now is the time!

5) You haven't been offered a raise or a promotion in a while.

At my old job, employees were put up for promotion every three years. It was very structured that way. Perhaps the average duration for promotion to the next level is 4 years, but if you haven't even been given the chance during that first promotion potential year, you've got to really wonder.

Figure out what the normal time-table is for getting a promotion at your company and make sure you communicate with your managers quite clearly about your intentions to get promoted, and the steps you're taking to get there.

Know Your Worth And Never Forget It

Get to know your local labor market. In addition, make sure you figure out if you're getting fairly compensated in today's market. If unemployment rates are low or on the decline, don't settle for a company that doesn't appreciate you.

Even if the job market is weak, it doesn't hurt to see what's out there. If your gut tells you it's time to move on from your job, brush up your resume and start checking job listings. Continue searching until you find the one who does.

Always keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities. I'm from the old school of thought where company loyalty matters, having worked at my previous firm for 11 consecutive years.

But, things are always changing now and it's important to be nimble. If the company you are working for is showing any of the above five signs, you should ramp up your search for something better.

Certainly give your existing employer a chance to make things better before you leave. But in the end, you've got to look out for yourself if you're not getting the love.

Just don't forget that you need to make much more as an entrepreneur to replace your day job income if you decide to go that route!

Recommendation For Leaving A Job

If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, negotiate a severance instead of quitting. I did so myself back in 2012. By doing so yourself, you can get a severance check and potentially also get subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.

Plus, if you get laid off, you're also typically eligible for up to ~27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during a transition period.

Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, on how to negotiate a severance. Move on from a job with money in your pocket. Don't quit! If you quit, you get nothing and can't even get unemployment benefits.

Getting a severance in 2012 was the #1 catalyst to leave my job and change my life for the better.

How to engineer your layoff - learn how to negotiate a severance package and be free

Suggestions For Starting A Business

Here are some helpful suggestions if you're sick of the rat race and want to start a business of your own.

Start your own website

Every business needs their own website. Here's a step-by-step tutorial showing you how. Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009.

I never would have imagined being able to engineer my layoff from a well-paying job in 2012 to just write and be absolutely free. You just never know what might happen if you try.

Back when I started, I had to hire someone for $1,500 to launch FS. Now you can launch your own website in under 30 minutes for less than $50.

If you enjoyed this article and want to get more personal finance insights and tips, please sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. You’ll get access to exclusive content only available to subscribers.

28 thoughts on “Five Sure Signs It’s Time To Move On From Your Job”

  1. what if your junior get promoted and you have all the skills and certificates more than junior but they did not promote you?

      1. I was suppose to
        Receive promotion too ( my boss promised me few weeks back ) the issue is I don’t care about position I care about raise, junior will be making more than me with half experience I have .

  2. Mr. Irrelevant

    I would love to see your career agenda goal worksheet/plan you used to sit down with the higher ups. In my office – the decisions about whether you get a promotion and how much of a raise you might receive is decided before you even sit down to speak with them. That is if they actually do an annual review. Its now been over 2 years since anyone in here has had an annual review. They also keep changing when they are supposed to happen. Originally it was at the end of the each year, then on your anniversary date – now it anyone’s guess.

  3. Knowing what you want and doggedly pursuing it are the key. Sometimes management just wants to see that you are fighting for yourself. Sometimes they really don’t care and you should move on.

    My current job is great. They promote well, pay great, and the benefits are very good. They make it hard to leave… which is what you want as an employee! Accordingly, turnover is very low and the company is extremely productive.

  4. A lot of this rang true with me. I’m at a cross roads with my current job. Things have been really bad to the point that I have finally started looking for new jobs. It’s time consuming and scary, but also exciting because of hope for a better future.

  5. This is a pretty comprehensive list. The only thing I would add is to make sure you see yourself doing this type of job for the next few years. The longer you’re with a company, the harder it generally becomes to leave. I will use these reasons as litmus tests for my own employment. Thanks for the great post.

  6. I went through this stage early in my career. I was a senior financial analyst and realized there were 10 people who wanted my job and I would have to relocate for my next position. I even interviewed for a position in Chicago suburb. I realized my skills were very good, but narrow. I realized I had to leave, but that meant giving up a high salary, and great benefits temporarily. In 7 years, I achieved financial independence and went from through Controller, Director of Finance to CFO. It was probably the best move I ever made career wise!

  7. I was with a company that was acquired by another company and I came along with the deal. I was fortunate to have a generous severance package in place by my previous employer that has to be honored by the current company. I am very highly compensated and I am sure they would love for me to leave on my own, but they typically don’t severe people with a package like mine as it is more than they want to pay. At times, it is an uncomfortable work environment, but I am not about to leave without the package.

  8. Interesting – we moved across the country for my husband’s career (after I fulfilled my career dreams) but I work for the same company. I have some of the issues listed here – but not from my management (I’m frequently left off invitations that pertain to me as people think they are doing me a favor by not intruding on my time). However, I suspect that my husband would see himself in most of these points… More for us to think about.

  9. All great points Sam, and you’re a proven example of their success.

    I’ve handed in my notice last week so this post comes up with good timing. For me, it was point 5 that really hit home. Not because my manager didnt want to promote me.. but because he physically couldn’t. There were no higher positions except his own job, and the company wouldnt sign off on any pay rises. Sad to jump ship, but if your own manager can’t convince the company to give you a pay rise.. what chance did I have myself?

    1. It is sad, but if you’ve reached as high as you can go and believe you deserve more, well done making the move.

      I know there is a lot of angst as well from younger folks who are frustrated the older generation isn’t moving on.

      Gotta wait it out, do something on the side, or just keeping searching for the right fit.

  10. Loyalty is overrated. What’s the point of loyalty if employers have no loyalty for you. They have no qualms cutting you if shit hits the fan so why should you?

    Sigh, it’s definitely getting time to leave my employer but I’m stuck in a bit of a golden handcuffs situation where a move would mostly just be lateral at this point in my career and I’m not sure I want to go through the hassle of switching jobs to end up at the same place but with a different face (and quite likely less benefits).

  11. Wall Street Playboys

    You alluded to this in the post, the main takeaway is “you will only go as far as the people pulling for you”.

    If you’re being left off emails by a passive aggressive person above you, who is not politically in the right group, then it doesn’t matter.

    What matters is who within the firm likes you. Go for the jugular. Always go for the jugular.

    If possible get the CFO/CEO himself to like you!

    The #1 reason to leave your job is when you realize you cannot gain any more political momentum. As your decision to leave highlights, if the person above you cannot help you move up, he’s a lost cause. At the end of the day, the cliche is true, more of life is “who you know”.

      1. Wall Street Playboys

        Very true, this is why an under appreciated career strategy is…

        **Always work in the headquarters**

        As soon as you hit a ceiling you have more abilities to move up the political chain so you should try to move to the HQ if not already there.

  12. Romeo Jeremiah

    Hmm… I don’t know about 5 SURE signs. Lots of organizations are not decentralized, which means that you’ll seldom have a say so in the hiring process if you’re the low man on the totem pole.

    That being said, one should always have an exit strategy if they are not happy at their existing job, whether the strategy is a 1, 5, or 10 year plan.

    1. They are absolutely sure signs Lt Commander. I’ve seen both sides of the fence as a manager. When we don’t care about somebody, we tend to not include them on anything.

  13. One thing I have noticed is a few employers will get you in the door with a great compensation package and then that is the end of your raises/bonuses. I have a friend that hasn’t gotten a raise in 3 years (while the amount he has to pay towards healthcare has skyrocketed). The new people the company hires are making as much as he is. It is so important to know what you are worth and to go get it, even if that means going to another company.

  14. Nice article. I know a lot of people that stay for the pension. I try to show them the actual dollar value of it and how that can be made up with extra earnings. Never underestimate the value of your “base” salary because everything you make usually starts from that except stock options.

    1. Ahh, then pension. So alluring every day closer one gets. I can’t blame anybody for staying until they. An qualify for lifetime benefits!

      Id just work on a side bustle in the meantime.

    2. Yes, I sacrificed probably 25% more annual salary by remaining with my current employer over the last ten years because of the defined benefit pension I will receive at age 62. I only plan to work five more years, so I will stay w/ my employer and grow my pension by about 10% more.

      My annual pension at age 62 will only be $25K per year (no COLA) with 25 years of service. I think I would have been better of financially with the higher salary over those years rather than the $25K annual pension at age 62.

      1. Hmmmm… only $25,000 a year in pension with no COLA after 25 years of service? That seems low. What line of work were you doing? At least the $25,000 is for life. That’s about $600,000 – $700,000 at 4% a year.

        1. I’ve worked in finance for three different government agencies over 20 years. Despite two masters degrees and certifications, my salary has not been high; in turn, my pension will not be that great. Due to a couple of missed opportunities, years of pay freezes, and the “Great Recession,” I now earn exactly what I earned in 1999. And I recently reduced my salary by 20% by volunteering to take every Friday off w/o pay. It’s great every weekend is a 3-day weekend!

          My annual pension will actually be a little lower than I thought, now that I considering my voluntary pay reduction:

          (25 years X $55,000 X 1.5%) = $20,600

          …at age 62, no COLA. I plan to stop working in five years at age 55.

          No complaints, these are my choices and I’m happy with them. My pension is higher than the average in my government pension plan. Police, fire, and senior well-paid managers w/ long tenure are the ones collecting large government pensions.

  15. Myles Money

    It’s impressive that you had such clear goals for your career from the very beginning, Sam. I wonder how many people can say the same, that they know the path they’re on and that they have an advancement strategy? And how many would have the guts to quit when they realised they were at the top of their game and they were unlikely to progress further?

    1. Not sure Myles.

      The Wall St career path is quite structured: Analyst, Associate, VP, MD, Senior Management.

      I thought I wouldn’t even get to Associate at one point because things were rough and I wasn’t cut from the same cloth of Ivy League, private school colleagues.

      But I saw so many people not get what they want because they were so passive, and so many questionable people get what they want because they were proactive, so I chose the latter.

      After year 13 of saving like crazy, I had a strong beliefs that I would be able to survive on less and one day replicate my Director level salary at least. Attitude is so important for progress. Unwavering belief that you will succeed is so important.

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