It's the age-old question: Stay put at your existing job or leave to advance your career?
If your current job has clear guideposts for advancement and you’ve been steadily moving up the ladder, then by all means you should stay put. On the other hand, if you’re stuck in a rut and several years have gone by without so much as a hint of upward mobility, then it might be time to start sending out resumes. There are upsides and downsides to both.
The downside to changing jobs, especially in this bad economy, is that you're leaving a sure thing for the unknown. Job descriptions, HR people and recruiters always paint a rosy picture of the jobs they’re trying to fill—pleasant people, nice office, cushy perks and above all, room for advancement. In reality, the job may be not much better than where you are now. So look before you leap and do some due diligence. See if you can contact some employees via social media—Facebook, LinkedIn and similar sites. Find out what you can about the company culture.
There are, of course, the upsides to moving on, particularly if you’re young and starting out. After working in an entry-level post for several years, you will have pretty much gotten your feet wet and learned much of what you need to know. In fact, there won't be that much more you can pick up and you may not grow as fast as you should. All the more reason to move out if you want to move up.
The goal in your next job will be to shoot for more responsibility and a bigger paycheck—things your present employer will be grudgingly loathe to give you. Even if you transfer to a new department, HR will resist handing out a sizeable boost in salary. For a significant pay boost, you've got to move out. Take your time in this all-important new job search, for this is a key rung in the ladder of your success.
The other advantage of moving out is that you'll be broadening your scope of experience in working with an entirely new group of people, company culture, technical systems and projects/tasks. Versatility is key to your success. You don't want to get too comfortable and set in the policies, procedures and culture of one company.
Finally, a list of diverse employers will look good on your resume (as long as you don't change jobs every year). Ascending levels of responsibility and three to five years at each employer are what most successful career minded employees strive to achieve.