Is The Ship Sinking? How to Know If It's Time to Move on to the Next Opportunity

By Editorial Staff / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Despite all your hard work and determination, there may come a time when you have no choice but to close up shop and move on.

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a million times: a large percentage of businesses fail. As a business owner, you will do whatever it takes to keep your doors open.

But despite all your hard work and determination, there may come a time when you have no choice but to close up shop and move on. There is another side to this story. When a business shuts down, employees are typically left to scramble.

How long will it take to find a new job? Where will these people turn for work? As an employee, you hope your company never runs into tough times. You hope everything runs smoothly, year in and year out, as to avoid a situation in which you are left without a job.

If you have reason to believe the ship is sinking, it may be time to explore other career opportunities.

It may not be something you want to do, but it may be something you have to do from a career and financial perspective.

Related Article: Types of Businesses Most Likely to Fail in 2015

Is it Time to Go?

That’s the million dollar question. You need to know the difference between a company that has hit a rough patch and one that will be closing its doors in the near future.

Here are five signs that it’s time to move on:

1. No More Raises

When was the last time you received a raise? If you can’t remember the answer, there may be something wrong.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the company is going out of business, but it probably signifies financial difficulties.

Top companies understand the importance of investing in talent. And one of the best ways of doing so is to provide annual pay raises.

When this stops, a red flag should go up.

2. You Don’t Get Paid

Even when a company is facing extreme financial stress, they will do their best to pay employees before all others.

So, if for any reason you are not getting paid in full and on time, you know something is seriously wrong.

You deserve to get paid for your work, so don’t let this slide. Ask the company owner or HR department for an explanation.

And of course, begin to plot your next career move. This is a definite sign that the ship is sinking.

Related Article: Building Greatness: Why Some Projects Fail and How to Avoid It

3. Changes at the Top

Stability is key to the success of any business. When leadership changes become the norm, it may be time to dust off your resume and begin your job search.

Changes at the top are inevitable, but too many of these could be a sign of desperation.

Rather than wait for new leadership to chop your position, it’s probably best to consider other employment opportunities.

4. Office Chatter

Taking part in office gossip may not be your “thing,” but you can learn a lot by keeping your ears open.

Are co-workers worried about the current state of the company? Is somebody “in-the-know” telling others to start searching for a new job?

You don’t have to say anything. Furthermore, you don’t have to believe everything you hear. But you should listen to others.

You may be surprised at what you hear and how co-workers react.

Related Article: With Power Comes Pain: The Downsides to Being the Boss

5. Hiring Freeze

A hiring freeze doesn’t always mean the end of the line for a company, but it could be the first step down a dangerous path.

Answer this question: what process did your employer follow in the past when an employee left the company?

If they always replaced the person as quickly as possible, you should expect this to happen in the future.

If it doesn’t, if there is a hiring freeze in place, it means something is wrong.

Additionally, a hiring freeze often means more responsibilities passed down to the remaining workforce.

Do you suddenly find yourself doing more work than ever, despite the fact that you aren’t being compensated accordingly?

A hiring freeze could be the culprit.

Do These Things First

You recognize one or more of these signs, and you have a feeling deep down inside that it’s time to leave for a better opportunity.

Take these three steps before you do anything:

  1. Ask your direct supervisor for advice. If you have a good relationship with this person, don’t shy away from opening up and expressing your concerns. The person may not be 100 percent honest with you, but the conversation will definitely open your eyes.
  2. Think about the future. You may be right about your company going under, but that doesn’t mean it’s happening tomorrow. Don’t make a rash decision until you think about the future. Will you apply for work at a competitor? Will you change industries altogether? Will you start your own business? These types of questions need answered.
  3. Consider the worst-case scenario. What is the absolute worst thing that can happen if you stay put? What is the worst thing that can happen if you leave your company today?

You never want to be faced with the worst-case scenario, but it’s good to plan for this nonetheless.

Understanding the worst that can happen will guide you toward the best decision.


Every year, tens of thousands of businesses close their doors. Subsequently, thousands upon thousands of people are left without a job and are seeking employment.

If you are concerned that your company will close down in the near future, it may be time to move on.

Remember, you have to do what is best for you, your family and your finances.

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