How do you know when it's time to change job?

By Paul Buchan, Eden Scott

25 June 2019

How do you know when it is time to consider a career move? Paul Buchan from Eden Scott discusses what to consider before taking the plunge.

There are many ways you can assess your circumstances before entering the job market to make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons.

Why even think about it?

Okay - cards on the table. The recruitment industry thrives on moving people from one job to another and from placing people into new positions, whatever they might be. We make money by placing candidates with our clients, so this article may be a bit like turkeys voting for Christmas.

In my opinion, there is not enough being done by recruitment professionals to offer sound advice on career development and career management strategies. All too often there is a drive to attract talent and then place these people into roles without seriously challenging why they are thinking about a move in the first place.

Here is my insight into the things you should consider before even putting together a CV and approaching the market.

Stating the obvious

Not everyone is in a position where a serious level of introspection and consideration is necessary for the “why” they are looking for something new. For contractors who are nearing the end of an assignment or people who have been made redundant or find themselves out of work for whatever reason, the “why” is obvious, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give serious to thought to the “what”.

In other words, “what” should your next role look like to offer some genuine career progression?

Don’t move for the sake of moving

We regularly receive enquiries from newly qualified accountants who are considering options with the reasoning “well, I am qualified now so I might as well have a look”. We also have people who utter the immortal line “I just need a fresh challenge” and, of course, what I would consider push-factors that are outwith the professional sphere of influence and reside very much in the personal one.

All of these reasons and countless others can lead to some bad decisions and have a detrimental effect on your immediate goals. I would like to look at some of these themes in isolation.

Recently qualified, so it’s time to move?

Yes and no. If you have trained in a professional services firm or in the commercial sector there is a very good chance that you will have maxed out your learning opportunities within your current role. There is no sense in carrying on a role that is not challenging you,  affording you new skills, or providing new learning experiences, but the answer is not always to leave your employer.

Quite often the best move you can make is an internal one; try different service lines, new departments or a completely fresh application of your training. It all stems from having the conversation with your current employer. Once you are completely satisfied that you have wrung out every possible opportunity available to you start to think about the “what”.

I just need a fresh challenge

Often, we receive enquiries from people moving from one job into the exact same role in another company for no other reason than a change of scenery. For some this works very well, particularly if they are happy in that style of role, but there are plenty of occasions where the person doesn’t feel any happier or better utilised in their new post.

This is because they never fully understood the “why” in the first place. Always keep the role front and centre in the decision-making process; this is the key to ensuring professional fulfilment.

The push-factor

If you are enjoying the day to day reality of the job you are doing, if it is challenging and stimulating, and you still want to move, then the chances are that you are considering a change for more personal reasons. It could be a difficult relationship with superiors or colleagues, unfair remuneration, a draining commute, or other factors that affect your happiness in a general sense.

I can relate to this; there’s nothing worse than going to a job that makes you unhappy on a personal level. The “why” here isn’t the issue, but the “what” can be. Moving into an unfulfilling role supplants one problem with another and causes professional unhappiness - be wary of that.

Make it all about the role

Make sure that, whatever you do, the actual role you are moving to is one that you want to do and that fits with your career development strategy. Assuming you have one, of course. Before you even get to that stage consider why you are moving in the first place; have you genuinely maxed out your learning and development opportunities?

Also, being bored of something is not the same as being good at it. Ensure that when you do decide to move you are taking valuable skills with you. The other thing to ask yourself is; have you done all you can to look at internal options? Sometimes all it takes is a bit of bravery in opening up a discussion to find a solution or new opportunity.

Whether it be salary, role content, autonomy or addressing other issues, having the conversation internally is the first step to having a well-rounded “why”.


Like so many other things within the accountancy profession these days, maximising your career opportunities with your current employer is more reliant on soft skills than anything else. The capacity to demonstrate your ability, to challenge the decision makers, and to effect change for the better is essential.

Once you have tried your best to address these issues you can be confident the time is right to strike out and find a better solution.

Eden Scott - here to help

We would be delighted to discuss current opportunities in the marketplace and offer advice tailored to your situation, so get in touch.

Contact Eden Scott

About the author

Paul is a specialist Recruitment Consultant focused on placing senior and experienced accountants into leadership, senior and middle-management roles. Paul operates within several commercial sector markets and has over 15 years’ experience advising on senior appointments.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS

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