top of page

Knowing When to Say When

In my capacity as an executive search consultant, it’s pretty common for people to ask me if there is a perfect time to consider a new position. Senior executives get calls from search consultants quite often, but they are not exactly sure when to listen. There are a few things that tell us it is time for something new. I am not a fan of changing jobs every couple of years just to change jobs. I am a fan of making a strategic move when you are ready for more and the opportunity just doesn’t exist in your current organization. Evaluating this can be tricky stuff. I have some thoughts to help you calibrate “when to say when.”

When your current company does not vibe with your life’s goals and values “Does your company help you fulfill your personal mission?” asks former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and best-selling author Suzy Welch. For example, are you required to travel more than you would like, given your chosen work-life balance? Does it offer enough upward mobility, given your level of ambition? Remember that there “are no right or wrong answers to such questions, only a sense of whether you are investing your time at the right or wrong company for you,” according to the Welches.

When you don’t talk about your job or company Richard Branson is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. His charisma, transparency, and success story motivate me whenever I need a little inspiration. One of the things I admire about him is that he is the biggest cheerleader for the company he founded, Virgin. In fact, can you imagine anyone else starting that company, or Branson working for any other organization? They’re indistinguishable from each other. That excitement trickles down to its employees. If you are embarrassed and avoid talking about your company, that’s definitely a red flag. Remember, you are the biggest champion for a company and, if you are not feeling it, then how will clients and customers?

When you can’t be authentic There is a restaurant chain in Britain called Wagamama that has one of the greatest slogans I have come across in business: “Be you. Be Wagamama.” Underneath that slogan is the line “We celebrate the things that make you different.” This company embraces the various skills and personalities that employees possess and uses them to create a successful business. If you feel like you cannot be yourself, then perhaps it’s time to look for greener pastures.

When you can’t envision yourself here any longer than a year Here’s another great question from Jack and Suzy Welch: “Can you picture yourself at your company in a year? We use that time frame because that’s how long it usually takes to find a new, better job once you decide to move on. So look into the future, and predict where you’ll be in the organization, what work you’ll be doing, who you will be managing, and who will be managing you,” they add. If that scenario strikes you with anything short of excitement, then you’re spinning your wheels. Or to put it another way, you’re just about to stay too long.

For those of you who may be considering what’s next, I hope this is helpful. I feel lucky to do the work I get to do every single day and hope the same sentiment exists for you!


bottom of page