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Like your job? But what if there is something out there even better for you — fancier title, higher tax bracket, maybe even a MacBook Air? How do you decide when to leave a good job for something that could be better? Hill Navigator discusses.

Q. I’m working in my second Hill office and I know from experience and talking to friends that I’ve been very lucky to work in two offices with amazing bosses. My personal interests, the priorities of my boss, and the issues I work on all align, on top of me fitting in with the personality and character of our entire office. Prior to my last move I was trying to move up to a legislative director position, but fell short. A few more years on and I feel like I could try to jump to another office to become an LD, but the downside is leaving an office that I feel was designed to perfectly fit me. My current boss isn’t going away (knock on wood), and is moving up in seniority on our committees quickly. I’ve been trying to figure out the odds of people above me moving on, but I’m not sure how to bring that up without being too precocious. What’s the more dangerous career move: Sticking around in a good office too long and not moving up, or making a move to somewhere where I might not fit perfectly but at least my title and pay is moving up?

A. Hill Navigator admires your ambition: You’re in a good job now and you’re looking for something even better. But what you’re asking is akin to reading tea leaves. Will an amazing opportunity come in your current office or is there a better one someplace else?  

The answer, sadly, is no one knows. Your boss could get nominated to the president’s cabinet or resign in scandal. Even the most established member of Congress could decide to run for Senate, or suddenly retire for a better gig on K street. (They — like you — are curious about what a better job might offer.) Opportunities such as these have promoted (and befallen) many Hill staffers. The problem is you don’t know when your next job is going to strike platinum, so let’s focus on what you do know.  

1) You like your job. Always a good place to start. Presumably, with a good job comes good people, ones you can talk to about your future and find ways in which you can expand your responsibilities, which will help your hirability well into the future.  

2) You will never fit perfectly . Even if there is a new great office that brings in bagels every Friday or is closed the entire month of August, it will never be the perfect fit. Don’t focus too intently on the small fissures in your job. There will always be a foolish co-worker, nagging boss, or micromanaging scheduler who bothers you. Stick to the big picture when evaluating how well a job works.  

3) It’s not an all or nothing proposition . You can enjoy and thrive in your current job while still keeping your ear to the ground for other possibilities. Informational interviews are always effective, even if you aren’t looking to make an immediate move. Having coffee with contacts is far better than reading about their life changes on Facebook. Things change quickly. Good bosses leave and bad ones get promoted. The goal is to get as much out of your current job as you can but have a few tethers out in case you decide (or someone decides for you) that you need to leave.  

Have a question for Hill Navigator? Email All submissions will be treated anonymously. 

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