Opinion: When Is it Time to Start Looking for Another Role?

Pictured: A fork in a dirt road/iStock, by-studio

Pictured: A fork in a dirt road/iStock, by-studio

by-studio/Getty Images

My colleagues and I have often been asked, “When is it time to start looking for another role?” This three-level rubric can help.

Pictured: A fork in a dirt road/iStock, by-studio

In the more than two decades since I launched a recruiting firm specializing in biopharma and related industries, my colleagues and I have often been asked, “When is it time to start looking for another role?”

The current state of the job market can be a consideration. The job market will cycle through layoffs, which make candidates more hesitant to consider a new role, to explosive job growth, potentially encouraging candidates to consider a change. While the job market merits some consideration in the decision, we encourage candidates to focus more specifically on factors where they have a solid understanding and more personal control.

How does one know when it’s time to start looking for other roles, either in or outside their current company?

Three Levels of Consideration

Let’s separate this question into a three-level rubric, building from the foundation.


Evaluate your current company and its potential for future growth in its market space. Does the future look promising, given market trends? You’ll also want to evaluate the company’s leadership, vision and overall stability.

You may also need to take a hard look at the circumstances of your particular division or team within the company. I once worked for a division of Hewlett-Packard (HP), a company that was sound overall. However, the particular software division where I worked was new and struggling to gain traction in the market, and its leaders were unfamiliar with running a software entity (they’d come from the hardware side of the business). I realized that it was time for a change, which ultimately led me to go back to graduate school for an MBA.


On this second level, you will want to evaluate the environment and culture with questions such as:

  • Do I enjoy the people I am working with daily?
  • Is the culture one that supports and reinforces my values?
  • Does the company welcome diversity and have DEI initiatives?
  • Does the company enable and encourage a healthy work/life balance?
  • Am I fairly compensated for my role and contributions based on market value?

So much of every job is impacted by the people you interact with on a daily basis. Life is too short to work with people you don’t enjoy!

Skills Growth

For this third level, you’ll want to take a hard look at whether you are growing in your current role.
For example, some questions for a sales role could be:

  • Am I learning to sell a more sophisticated product or service?
  • Am I moving from a general territory to a strategic or major account focus?

Some questions for a researcher role could be:

  • Am I expanding my knowledge by gaining experience in a new area or a later stage of research, such as clinical trials or manufacturing?
  • Am I expanding my experience by using new analysis tools in research, such as more sophisticated imaging?

If you feel you have plateaued in your learning and growth in your current role and don’t foresee that changing, it can be a trigger to seek alternatives.

One researcher I worked with had spent three years in essentially the same role and was not growing. By taking a new role, she was able to leverage her research background for another company and get more involvement and exposure to the new company’s clinical trials work. This expanded her skill set in a new area and made her a more valuable asset to the company with her new, broader perspective on the drug development process.

One factor my firm recommends people not get too hung up on is job titles. We have worked with a few candidates who were extremely fixated on a particular title for their role, sometimes to their detriment. Since titles can change radically across different companies and different-sized organizations, we advise candidates to really look at the scope of responsibility rather than merely the title. A VP of Sales at a startup with only one other salesperson is vastly different than a VP of Sales managing a team covering all of North America.


The healthcare and biotech markets will continue to evolve and provide exciting opportunities in the future. My hope is that considering the three-level rubric of company, environment/culture and skills growth will be a useful way to assess your current role and situation. If your analysis finds a need for improvement in one or more of these areas, you will ultimately be more confident in your decision to start looking for a new role. Best of luck!

Bob Broady is the president of BroadReach Search Partners, which specializes in recruiting for the biotechnology industry. He can be reached at bbroady@broadreachsp.com or on LinkedIn.