Published: 18 December 2016

When is the right time to move job?

I’ve been asking mentors from our Peer Support Scheme to share a piece of memorable advice they’ve received during their career. A key theme that kept cropping up was: when is it the right time to move job? Here's what three of our mentors had to say on the subject.

Nicola Peckett, director of communications, DEC

After five years in my first job, my manager said to me: “Nicola, five years in your first job is enough. You don’t love it any more and it’s time to move on.”

He didn’t say this in an aggressive way, or to get rid of me, but as a genuine piece of advice. So, I took his advice, did what I had always wanted to do and went off around the world backpacking for two years. After what I saw on my travels, I went on to become a VSO volunteer in Nigeria which lead to a career in international development. I like to believe that my life and career has been much more exciting and fulfilling than it might otherwise have been because I acted on his advice pretty much as soon as he gave it to me.

Nikki Hill, director of policy, communications and information, Arthritis Care

How often should we think about climbing the career ladder? Some years ago I thought it was time to move on and was dazzled by a role with an impressive title. I was offered the job and went to hand in my notice. But I hadn’t done my homework on this new role. I didn’t understand the charity, its culture, its purpose, its direction or how committed it was to developing its staff. My boss was that lovely combination of sad that I was leaving and delighted I’d got the job. They asked where I thought this new job would take me in the long term. I wasn’t sure. After more thought I decided to stay and got an internal promotion that allowed me, in time, to move on to better things.

If you’re applying for a job, do your homework, think about where it will lead you. What job do you think you’ll look for when you may want to move on again? If you’re not clear then ask yourself why you’re applying for this one in the first place!

Kate Turner, deputy executive director, United World Colleges International

One memorable piece of advice that sticks in my mind came from a manager of mine. I was attempting to "take the next best step for my career" and just looking at jobs as they came up, without any real thought. She told me that I shouldn’t be considering my next move – it was the job after that one that was critical. Your next role should enhance your current skills and experience to get you on the right track for the job you ultimately want.

Whether you have a gap in experience or need to get a little more experience – your next job should give you the opportunity to do this. Discuss that specific experience with your new manager – your new place of employment will want your skills for the time you work with them – to use a cliché it could be a win/win. This is not to denigrate the next job you have, it is critical you do your best in that job to meet the needs of the organisation and develop your experience but if you do well, you will be one step closer to achieving a career goal.

Do you have useful advice to share?

CharityComms runs a Peer Support Scheme where we match communications professionals working in the charity sector with senior external communications colleagues as part of their professional development. We’re currently recruiting mentors for the scheme. You can find more information here


Lally Wentworth (maternity leave), membership and mentoring manager, CharityComms

Lally joined CharityComms in December 2008 to develop and manage the CharityComms membership scheme. She also runs our peer support scheme, including matching communications professionals working in the charity sector in mentoring relationships as part of their professional development.