It\u2019s no secret that the labor market has been volatile in recent years, with workers moving positions in record numbers.\n\nBut it\u2019s not just lower-level staffers making moves: Plenty of CIOs have been shuffling jobs during the past few years, too.\n\nIn its 2022 Global Leadership Monitor survey, executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates reported that 56% of technology executives moved to a different company during the prior year \u2014 a higher percentage than their peers in finance, human resources, legal, risk & compliance, and operations.\n\nThe same survey revealed that 50% of technology executives, which includes CIOs as well as CTOs, CISOs and chief digital officers, said they\u2019re willing to change employers for the right opportunity. Half of that cohort further expressed \u201ca strong desire to leave their current employer.\u201d\n\nBut how do CIOs know it\u2019s time to make a move \u2014 particularly when there are no real problems driving them out the door?\n\nThere are both telltale and personally-felt signs that indicate the time is right to move on \u2014 even if everything is going well in a current job, according to experienced CIOs, career coaches, and executive advisers.\n\n\u201cJobs often have a natural ending,\u201d says Trevor Schulze, who became CIO of analytics software company Alteryx in 2021 after three years as senior vice president and CIO at RingCentral.\n\nSchulze, who says he has some strategies for knowing when to make a move, is thoughtful about what he wants to do for work, acknowledging that he has \u201ca passion for building.\u201d As such, he looks for roles at companies \u201cthat I really feel passionate about\u201d and are looking to transform.\n\nThe Monday morning test\n\nEven if he\u2019s in a position that meets his transformative criteria, Schulze still keeps an eye out for signs that it\u2019s time to depart. Here, the \u201cMonday morning test\u201d can be a key indicator for making that call.\n\n\u201cFirst, I\u2019m honest [when asking myself]: Are you energized or deflated on Monday morning going into that workweek? Am I fulfilled in my role? With fulfillment for me meaning I\u2019m learning and growing. Or have I hit a ceiling?\u201d he explains, noting that he has mentored others to use such questions as they make career choices.\n\nSchulze developed this litmus test early in his career when heading to work one Monday following a particularly tough stretch of days. Going into his office, he knew that he and his colleagues would be challenged with fixing some issues that had surfaced.\n\n\u201cSo I tested myself by asking: Is this something I wanted to do?\u201d he says. \u201cI said, \u2018Absolutely.\u2019 I wanted to be a change agent. I saw exciting things ahead of me.\u201d\n\nSchulze has used this test ever since to help guide decisions on whether to stay in a current role \u2014 a practice that is particularly helpful for making the right call when he\u2019s approached by recruiters.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s human nature when you find something dangled in front of you to want to pursue it. But if you are doing a great job at a good organization and you are changing the organization, that\u2019s a great thing and not something that I\u2019d walk away from,\u201d he says. \u201cTechnology leaders get approached constantly with new opportunities, and I\u2019m no exception. But if I\u2019m still energized with driving my [current] company\u2019s agenda I say, \u2018No thank you.\u2019\u201d\n\nHe adds: \u201cI pass opportunities onto other people constantly, and I think more people need to do that. They need to have the courage to say \u2018Not now.\u2019\u201d\n\nOn the other hand, there have been times when Schulze\u2019s response to that test question has helped him realize it\u2019s best to consider new opportunities. The tipping point? \u201cWhen too many Monday mornings you feel you don\u2019t want to do this anymore.\u201d\n\nBreaking points\n\nThere are, of course, many circumstances that would prompt a CIO to leave. CIOs are sometimes pushed out, something they may recognize is evolving when they\u2019re excluded for strategy sessions or sidelined to special projects. In such cases, advisers say most CIOs can read the tea leaves and know it\u2019s time to put themselves back on the job market.\n\nBut veteran CIOs, executive advisers, and recruiters say it may take some introspection and good observation skills to understand other scenarios that might indicate that it\u2019s time to exit a position on a high note.\n\nFor example, CIOs who find that they\u2019re transforming elements that they already transformed at least once before often see that as a good time to break away.\n\n\u201cSome CIOs can start again, but others, or even more CIOs, say, \u2018I\u2019ve done this and I\u2019ve had a good run.\u2019 And once they get through one transformation, they may not want to do it again there,\u201d says John-Claude (JC) Hesketh, the London-based CEO of global executive search and leadership advisory firm Marlin Hawk.\n\nComing to such realizations takes time and attention.\n\n\u201cThere\u2019s no one clear \u2018That\u2019s it, this happened, that\u2019s the linchpin, it\u2019s time to go,\u2019\u201d says Kristen Lamoreaux, president and CEO of Lamoreaux Search, who has seen plenty of CIOs opt for graceful exits by departing while they\u2019re still effective in their roles.\n\nIn many cases, she says, CIOs who leave on a high note recognize that the role or its mission are changing in ways that they don\u2019t want or aren\u2019t suited for. A CIO who excels at growth, for example, may see the company \u2014 and thus IT \u2014 heading into maintenance or cost-cutting mode and, being self-aware about their strengths and interests, see that as a good time to start looking.\n\n\u201cThey know it\u2019s not going to be a good fit,\u201d Lamoreaux says, adding that some CIOs have told her that they recognized a need to move on when they started to feel stunted or worn down in their current role, rather than energized.\n\nStill other CIOs decide to leave once they\u2019ve accomplished what they set out to do, she says.\n\n\u201cWhen you hit certain stage gates, when you can say, \u2018I did this. It\u2019s going well. Wow, look at what I did.\u2019 When you\u2019re crafting those bullet points to go your resume and you say, \u2018I don\u2019t think I\u2019m going to top that,\u2019 then it may be time to look,\u201d she adds.\n\nEstablishing the exit signs in advance\n\nRaj Iyer had an approach like that when it came to his position as CIO for the US Army. Iyer accepted that post in late 2020, after working nearly six years at Deloitte Consulting first as senior manager for Technology Strategy, Defense and National Security and then managing director for Government and Public Services.\n\nIyer says he decided to take the Army CIO job because it \u201cwas a tremendous opportunity to serve our nation and give something back and to help shape its future.\u201d\n\nBut he adds: \u201cI also knew I wasn\u2019t going to spend the rest of my career there.\u201d\n\nIyer says he took the position with a transformation mandate, one that would require \u201crunning at 200% all the time every day\u201d to create a \u201cfuture-ready\u201d organization that he outlined in his Army Digital Transformation Strategy.\n\nHe set objectives and deadlines, saying that having these in place motivated everyone to get the work done quickly and on time. And he gave himself a deadline of three years, aiming to hit the markers he had established for himself as CIO and then transition out.\n\n\u201cI knew I had to drive a sense of urgency, and to do that, I knew I had to put time limits on myself so I could pull everyone at a quicker pace than they were used to,\u201d he says, noting that \u201cthe sooner I worked myself out of the job, the better for the Army and the nation.\u201d\n\nHe further explains: \u201cWhen you want to be a transformative leader and a change agent, there\u2019s a certain lifespan you have. You can come in as an outsider, question the status quo, make changes. But the longer you stay, you become the status quo, and someone else then has to come in. And so I told myself when we got to a point where we had critical mass, where we built irreversible momentum, it was going to be time for me to leave.\u201d\n\nIyer stepped down as Army CIO in March 2023 and joined ServiceNow as head of its Global Public Sector business.\n\nIyer says he has not set deadlines for himself in this new role, noting that his work and the sense of urgency are different at ServiceNow than they were at the Army. He says he\u2019ll stay \u201cas long as I\u2019m challenging myself and I\u2019m in positions where I am learning and can grow and work in a bigger scale than I was before.\u201d\n\nSeeking more challenges\n\nThe desire for growth is, in fact, a common refrain among CIOs as they talk about their career decisions and their decisions about whether to stay or leave.\n\nIt\u2019s a big part of Mojgan Lefebvre\u2019s story and her three-decade tech career. Lefebvre has been CIO at four companies, explaining that she decided to leave each role despite all their positive aspects for the chance to tackle new challenges.\n\n\u201cI knew I was ready to move,\u201d she says, noting that they were calculated even if they weren\u2019t easy to make.\n\nAs an example, she points to her decision to move in 2010 from her job as corporate vice president and global CIO of the French company bioMerieux to work as SVP and CIO of Commercial Insurance Business at Liberty Mutual Insurance.\n\n\u201cThat was a tough call for me,\u201d she says.\n\nShe had to weigh what she was getting versus what she was giving up, explaining that she would head up IT for a division that was bigger than bioMerieux but would no longer be reporting to a CEO but instead Liberty Mutual\u2019s global CIO.\n\nLefebvre made the call to leave bioMerieux after a mentor advised her the move to Liberty Mutual \u201cwould be the best move you could make\u201d if she aimed to someday be CIO of a large organization.\n\nIn fact, she credits that move for putting her on the path to Travelers. She left her position as senior vice president and CIO of Global Risk Solutions at Liberty Mutual in 2018 to become CIO at Travelers. She is now Traveler\u2019s executive vice president and chief technology and operations officer.