As for me, I've often bolted just in time. Other times, I've panicked and left too soon.
How do you know when the time is right?
Here are some signs you should perhaps dust off the old resume and update your LinkedIn.
- Long-time employees are starting to leave your company (abruptly)
- Your work assignment has changed drastically (i.e. you've lost the rainmaker on your workload has decreased significantly)
- If you're a person who bills time, your hours have drastically dropped
- The office manager who was once super friendly has recently stopped talking to you
- When you walk in the lunch room, everybody gets quiet
- Sometimes there is an "ebb and flow" of work and things start to get better.
My motto is best to be proactive than reactive.
You might consider contacting a headhunter to "test the waters." Shop your resume just for practice. You may get a nibble and you may not but at the very least you can test your interview skills.
And most importantly, be very careful in selecting a confidential recruiter and above all, don't talk to your co-workers about your concerns or plans.