Almost everyone experiences times when his or her job, workplace environment, co-workers, or managers could be much better. But how long do you endure negative surroundings before it's time to "test the waters" and see what other jobs might be better fit for you?
While the stigma of job-hopper is not what it used to be even a short time ago, it is still critical for you to demonstrate to a prospective new employer that you gained experience and new skills, in any job you have held. It is projected that Generation X will hold 10-15 jobs over their careers and Gen Y (or Millennials) as many as 25. Keep in mind these are projections based on limited historical data since the oldest Millennials are still under 30 years old and you typically change jobs more often in your early years in the work. But if the projection holds, it means Millennials will change jobs every two years.
The questions you should ask yourself are: Am I learning and progressing from a developmental standpoint towards my longer-term career goals? Is there an opportunity for upward movement, as a reward for hard work, or is my job stagnant? Do I have supportive managers and co-workers or is it a stressful environment impacting my personal life and health? Am I paid fairly for my position and what I contribute? If you are answering a negative response to one or more of these questions, then it might be time to check out what's going on in the job market.
Do not do anything impulsive. New jobs are still not that plentiful – so use your current job to fund your search. Make a change on your own timing. Use your personal email and cell phone, and do not tell anyone in your company. It does not matter how much you trust your co-workers, word will get out and it may take away your timeframe options.
Before you begin looking in earnest, you should do an assessment of your skills. A good start in this process is to update your resume (although you should always keep it current). What jobs are you really qualified for? Do you have the education and mastery of skills to progress up the ranks of another organization? If you determine the longer-term position you want requires a specific degree or more experience, you may want to stay put until you reach that new plateau. But it's always good to test the waters through your network to see how friends and colleagues jobs are going and what companies are hiring and for what positions.
Prior to making any decision, you need to include whether you are "running away" from a job or moving forward in your career. If you have not given your "all" in a job, there is no reason to make a change and end up in the exact position only in a different company. If you decide to leave, leave on a good note – perhaps just after completing a project or mastering a new skill set. This will give you a good story to relay to a prospective employer – that you finish what you start and are ready for more challenge and responsibility.