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Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the headhunters-can-keep-their-opinions-to-themselves dept.

IT 282

An anonymous reader writes "We all know somebody who changes jobs like changing clothes. In software development and IT, it's getting increasingly hard to find people who have been at their job for more than a few years. That's partly because of tech companies' bias for a young work force, and partly because talented people can write their own ticket in this industry. Thus, I put the question to you: how often should you be switching jobs? Obviously, if you find the perfect company (full of good people, doing interesting things, paying you well), your best bet is to stay. But that's not the reality for most of the workforce. Should you always be keeping an eye out for new jobs? Is there a length of time you should stick around so you don't look like a serial job-hopper? Does there come a point in life when it's best to settle down and stick with a job long term?"

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same job, 12 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388735)

I am a garbageman

Re:same job, 12 years (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#47388757)

You work at Sun? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Re:same job, 12 years (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about 5 months ago | (#47388761)

I am a garbageman

Yeah, I did desktop support too.

Re: same job, 12 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388799)

Now that's a crappy job!

Re: same job, 12 years (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 5 months ago | (#47389005)

Now that's a crappy job!

No, a sewage treatment plant worker is a crappy job.

Re: same job, 12 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388833)

... you insensitive clod. FTFY.

I guess garbagemen never change employers? I'd like that. My dad was with one company until he retired. He was writing 360 assembler, Cobol and others, later switched to CICS admin. In the end he went over to do client management. Never changed the company even though the company was renamed several times and restructured several times. He managed a salary that bought a house and my mom stayed home.

i think thats pretty much the ideal and I think this is how it still should be (my mom stayed home because she wanted to. She could have gone back to her job anytime though). So ideal times to switch 0. If you get bored switch departments or get a promotion. Or demotion to management or something ;)

Re: same job, 12 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388865)

Meh, I don't like to stay in one town for very long. I'm 35 and work a job for an average of two years, then move to a new state and start over. No intention of stopping.

Re: same job, 12 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388905)

Oh, you'll stop one day, believe me. And that day is sooner than you think, since you're 35.

Re: same job, 12 years (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389171)

nonsense, people who finish projects done well can change all they like

Re:same job, 12 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388909)

Thank you for doing something that is of value to society, unlike almost all of the rest of us.

same job, 12 years (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389259)

PICK UP THAT TRASH FAGGOT

Every day (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388737)

If you're not doing or learning something new, you're dying a slow painful death inside.

Re:Every day (3, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#47388765)

You don't have to do or learn something new every day at work, though.

Re:Every day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388929)

While I agree with this, and continue to learn a LOT in my free time (this year I started an Android blog of tutorials just to keep myself on a schedule with learning new things), I still prefer working somewhere that has me working on new challenges fairly regularly just so I feel like I'm not wasting my time on the job doing code monkey tasks.

Re:Every day (1)

mitzampt (2002856) | about 5 months ago | (#47388793)

Yeah, I picked my first job as bad pay but a lot of learning opportunities and sticked with it for three years, which is usually the minimum requirement for a good job. Our college teachers called these 'the sacrificed years'. After that, I picked a better job and as long as I can grow I stay on my current workplace. I believe that once you stop growing it's really hard to change jobs.

Re:Every day (4, Interesting)

Almost-Retired (637760) | about 5 months ago | (#47389163)

The other side of that coin is:

Is the new opportunity worth the hassle of starting over in some locale where the COL is 3 times higher, your rights are much more restricted, no big game hunting because of the population density precludes the use of even a bow and broad heads, despite the fact that you'll wreck a car a year running into said big game, and its 4 hours to someplace where drowning a worm might get you fish for dinner.

That occurred to me when a head hunter called me, offering 10% more to be the Chief Engineer at a tv station in the top 25 market. But it would have come with all of the above limitations. Even at 200%, which said tv station could well afford, it wasn't worth it to me.

Basically I had found my place back in 1984. I can walk to hunt deer or fish, COL is 1/2rd that of the big city, the house that came with the girl I married in 1989 has been paid off for 15 years, and stayed here till I retired 12 years ago. Technically, my reputation for being able to walk on water when the boat has already sank has been well established, and I still get yells for help occasionally. As a technician who can actually fix things, I am a C.E.T. & have what used to be a 1st phone license before the commission threw us under the bus, we are a dying breed, literally, and I find that I have, at nearly 80 yo, inherited some of the local radio broadcasters, because the engineer they were calling when the cash cow laid down and went dry, had died.

But the surprising detail most find hard to believe is that I am not a "papered" engineer, I have an 8th grade education, but was good enough with electronics that I quit school in the middle of my freshman year in high school, mostly due to health/allergy problems, and went to work fixing what was then these new-fangled things called televisions. Circa 1948-49. And yet the medical help locally available is pretty good. In early June, about a month ago, I woke up, just barely conscious and couldn't breath, on the bedroom floor while trying to tie my shoes to take the better half out for dinner, a pulmonary embolism that damned near punched my ticket. The better half, sitting in the car waiting, finally came back in to see what the holdup was & called 911. They got me to the local shop, started the clot-buster, and shipped me off to a larger facility. I am not 100% yet, but getting there, and TBT I feel better now than I have in years.

The guy from ultrasound looked at my heart with its blown up 2x right half as it was trying to pump into the blockage, for about an hour. I presume looking for places that ought to be bypassed or stented, couldn't find any and said once its shrunk back to normal, you ought to be good for another decade. 2-3 months to shrink again. Sort of feels like getting a warranty renewal but there is no such thing in life.

So I'll be here to pester you folks for a while yet, offering my comments on having observed life for nearly 80 years now. Some comments will come from my experience as a working joat, I am a decent mechanic and am now playing with smaller CNC machinery. I've also made some furniture & remodeled a few guns over the last 50 years.

I rather enjoy being close to the biggest frog in the pond, even if the pond is just Pedersons Puddle. It has its advantages.

Cheers, Gene

Re:Every day (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389271)

Wow, tons of valuable life experience there. And still basically no curmudgeon in you, at least not that really comes through in your writing.

You have certainly earned the right to tell me to get off your lawn (and I'm at an age where I sometimes find myself thinking, "Hey you little whippersnappers...")

Re:Every day (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#47389177)

so, what you are saying is that you will stay at your current job until it gets really hard to change jobs, then change jobs?

brilliant.

Maybe (4, Interesting)

forrie (695122) | about 5 months ago | (#47388739)

I suppose that depends upon other variables. Such as, what are your personal risk factors? For example: a family, do you have enough $ resources so if you fail you'll recover ok, etc. Lots of people got hit badly in the $ when the tech market went kaput -- some haven't really fully recovered. Then, there is age. We all know what the stereotype is of age in the IT sector - though I would hire an older IT person over a kid any day, partly due to their wisdom from experience. Back in the stock boom, it used to be 2 years max I would change jobs and/or positions; not just to stay relevant, but to move on. Sometimes I got lucky, by being pulled in to new ventures because I knew people (that's a powerful ally in this industry).

Seems like the market is starting to grow a little bit, but I'm not sure it's a job-bull market just yet. Curious what others think and feel about this.

Re:Maybe (3, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 5 months ago | (#47388797)

I've been with the same employer for the better part of thirteen years, and I was mired in desktop support for far longer than I wanted to be. I stuck through it mainly to be vested with the retirement system (and bearing in mind that the IT market was complicated when the dotcom bubble burst) and by the time I got vested I managed to move up in the organization, so I'm not as unhappy as I once was.

Now that I've got forward progress again I'm inclined to give myself time to grow into my current role before considering a change. I've got a decade of tech progress to catch up on in Linux administration and Cisco, so I may as well get that experience in a fairly secure environment before considering something more.

Re:Maybe (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47389223)

Seems like the market is starting to grow a little bit, but I'm not sure it's a job-bull market just yet. Curious what others think and feel about this.

I don't know about IT, but if you're a programmer, in Silicon Valley companies are hiring production teams to make video commercials to attract programmers. Billboards along the side of the freeway saying, "come work for us!" Salaries at ridiculous levels ($120k straight out of college). If you're good at negotiating, you can even get yourself a 4-day work week.

Stay Six Months (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | about 5 months ago | (#47388747)

Don't do this many times in a row, though, because the pattern on your resume says much more than length of time.

Re:Stay Six Months (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389075)

depends, if you stay for a project, complete the project and move on no one seems to mind even if six months to a year at a time. I did that for a decade in the 90s. Companies don't want a quitter, they do want accomplishment and dependabilty

Learning curves (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388753)

Those companies that have a development environment with a 6-12 month learning curve might/will look negatively at job hoppers - people who will come and go prior to being productive. Granted, these tend to be niche markets, but they DO exist.

We can thank corporate America (5, Interesting)

bangular (736791) | about 5 months ago | (#47388763)

Given a steady job with a pension that won't disappear, I think most people would rather stay at a company long term. Corporate America took this from us and now complains they can't keep people. They set the rules, we're just getting around to beating them at their own game.

Whenever you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388887)

Thats pretty much what it boils down to. If companies don't promise that pension at the end, theres no (financial) reason to stick with any employer for any extended period of time. Its more practical to hop from company to company getting signing-on bonuses and playing companies against one another for higher pay than it is to stick with one company for less bonuses, less pay and no pension in the end.

Re:We can thank corporate America (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388933)

I stayed 15 years. At my new job there are people who have been there for several decades.
Training specialists is expensive. Keeping them once trained is worth making them happy.

Re:We can thank corporate America (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47388953)

Corporate America took this from us and now complains they can't keep people.

Nope. Job longevity is actually at an all time high. The "lifetime job security" of the "the good ole' days" is a myth that never happened.

Re:We can thank corporate America (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#47388983)

Its also incredibly toxic, ask Greece or Italy how the universal golden parachute is working out.

Re:We can thank corporate America (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389061)

Its also incredibly toxic, ask Greece or Italy how the universal golden parachute is working out.

This a terrible example. Greece or Italy paid pensions based on your last months in your job and everyone thought it was a good idea to give big raises for these last months. It was screwed system and everyone was fine gaming it until it broke.

Re:We can thank corporate America (4, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 5 months ago | (#47388987)

This is entirely accurate. Full time jobs have in many cases given way to contracts. Then there are layoffs. It is a pretty cynical thing for a company to then turn around and judge people for being at a job for less than 5 years when a year or less is becoming far more common.

Re:We can thank corporate America (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 months ago | (#47389023)

This ^^. Lots of people are going to point out statistically the layoffs and firings are lower than ever but it isn't really true. Companies just game the numbers by using contractors to fill what really are permeate positions.

Re:We can thank corporate America (3, Interesting)

QuasiEvil (74356) | about 5 months ago | (#47389111)

15 years and counting for me - not just same company, but same position. The title changes and I get promoted every couple years, but it's the same PCN doing basically the same thing.

I'm basically the technical management of a development group at a large transportation company. The technical part of my department isn't really all that bad. The challenge is knowing the business and all the weird, intricate little nuances of both our clients and how the actual business operates. I figure it takes 18 months to make a newbie a net positive in the group. I rarely hire because typically we focus on getting people who are going to stick around. It's just too costly to productivity to have short timers around. It's also how I've successfully fended off "well, can't you just outsource some of this extra work?" If I'm looking through resumes and see you only stay at similar jobs for 2-3 years, I'm not even going to read the rest of it. I assume that candidate is going to suck up all the resources to get him/her trained and then move along before they've contributed as much back. I'd much rather have someone that shows they're on the track to becoming a greybeard. You know - the guy who has been there forever to become an uberguru, and sits in the corner and says little, but when he does you should probably take it as if it were handed down on stone tablets.

Re:We can thank corporate America (0)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 months ago | (#47389275)

You're hiring bad people, or you're a shitty manager. Or both. I have yet to see a job where a mid to senior level hire isn't making positive contributions within a month, and generally they're at least getting something done by the end of the first week, even if its just minor bug fixes. If you're taking 18 months to train someone up, you're getting the absolute bottom of the barrel hires and you aren't doing your job of farming out work to them on a level they can contribute in the intermediate time. Your company would be better off if you were replaced by someone halfway competent.

Re:We can thank corporate America (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389087)

not accurate at all in the USA, BLS shows job longevity for those over 25 years old going from 4.8 years in 1991 to 5.4 years in 2012 and rising

Re:We can thank corporate America (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 5 months ago | (#47389233)

Corporate America brought the pension, and Corporate America took it away, all in the span of 80 years - tops. It's certainly comfortable to have one, but it's not in any way some historic bedrock of society.

Before the industrialists of the 20th century there were no corporate pensions, no lifetime employees (except for slaves). Then corporations came and exploited workers (because they could), and unions formed and grew large and powerful enough to exploit the corporations (because they could), then corporations outsourced and contracted to avoid unions (because they could), and now it looks like a free for all. Except that there will always be more workers than jobs - a fact born of globalization and the ongoing industrial (and information) revolution. The only exception is areas of protectionism where outsiders are not allowed to work, but those are dwindling. The result is that the people at the top have the pick of the mediocre to work at nearly any wage they choose, and only the brilliant workers will have true mobility and negotiating power. And the line between brilliant and mediocrity will shift to a smaller slice each year as the industrial revolution obsoletes more and more jobs each year.

Change Jobs? (4, Funny)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 5 months ago | (#47388769)

Once every 56 years?

Too soon?

Re:Change Jobs? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#47388925)

Nah, that's okay. He's no Gordon Ramsay, but they do have a new Cook.

Re:Change Jobs? (1)

wasteoid (1897370) | about 5 months ago | (#47389137)

Too late, maybe.

3-5 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388771)

Personally, I've found that if you stay somewhere much longer than 3-5 years, you are probably making significantly below market, and your job choices tend to decrease the longer you stay with one company. I'm more of a dev/ops engineer (puppet/ansible/jenkins/build automation) than a software dev, but they call me the later.

Re:3-5 years (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47388873)

That is when you are young, when you get older a lower frequency may actually be better.

IT - Same job almost 15 years (1)

krelvin (771644) | about 5 months ago | (#47388781)

Very common around where I work.

Define "Change jobs?" (1)

Shoten (260439) | about 5 months ago | (#47388791)

By "change jobs," do you mean change employers as well? What about lateral moves within the same company, or between different organizations within the same company?

Ultimately, how often you change roles (either change in job description, responsibilities, or employer, as I'm defining it) depends on the following things:

1, demand in your field. If your field has more demand than supply, these are the salad days...moving from company to company can be beneficial. These days will not last forever, so make sure you take advantage of them, but also be wary of reaching the pinnacle of compensation. At some point, the market will catch up, and you may end up being more expensive than you're worth when that day comes.

2, the company/organization you work for and the opportunity it provides. If you have growth still ahead of you and are continuing to grow in your current place, then moving is probably not a great idea. Money's good, but development is better. A lot of companies don't have a career path that's technical (instead of automatically turning you into a manager who never will touch technology again), so that's a consideration as well. Which way do you want your career to go?

3, your current happiness in the role you occupy. This is for you to define, and the rationale behind it should be obvious.

4, how long you've been there/industry tolerance for job-hopping. If you've been at the last 4 jobs for less than a year each, this may not look so great on a resume. But some industries/career paths are quite tolerant of such things, understanding the current state of the market.

At least, that's how I see it, in broad strokes.

Re: Define "Change jobs?" (1)

certain death (947081) | about 5 months ago | (#47388847)

I have changed jobs every 6 months to a year for about the last 7 years. Most of the gigs were contract or contract to hire, but either the "hire" part never came through, or I didn't want to stay there as a perm slave. I have about 10 more years until I retire, so I am hoping I can keep the job I have now at least that long.

Re:Define "Change jobs?" (2, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47388891)

By "change jobs," do you mean change employers as well? What about lateral moves within the same company, or between different organizations within the same company?

A lateral move within a company is going to result in little or no pay increase. A new company will usually give you a significant boost to your current salary. To maximize your income, you should move to a new company every three to six years. In some professions, longevity and loyalty are rewarded. Software development is not one of those professions.

blame outsourced work / contractors / subontractor (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47388819)

blame outsourced work / contractors / subcontractor for people who move job to job a lot.

Some contractors only last 6 mo to an year 1 And then it may be the same job but at and different place or after time is up they may move stuff around or change the main contractor and what if that main contractor lowers pay rates or has there own staff and they kick out the people in place?

Also some times it can be the same job and same place but under an new name for the main contractor.

Some contractor work can only be an few weeks and or your just there to get them switched to overseas teams with maybe 1-2 people on call to do stuff hands on.

Some places only have people come on to work on an new product and after it's out most of the team is gone till the next one.

Re:blame outsourced work / contractors / subontrac (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#47388991)

Im a contractor, and have been my entire career. At my first employer, i had a list of clients that did not change substantially over nearly a decade. At my current employer, I've been at one location for 2 years.

This discussion is filled with rampant speculation and incorrectness.

Job Hopping (4, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 months ago | (#47388821)

I can tell you now than when I am hiring and looking at resumes and see 1 year, 2 years, 1.5 years, 9 months, I label it is a "job hopper" and throw it in the "least likely to consider" pile. And a CRAPLOAD of the resumes are that way, regardless of the position. Many things come to mind when I see that "hopping"- maybe they are just using each job as a stepping stone to get more money or experience, maybe there is something wrong with them and they can't keep a job, or perhaps they are too easily bored.

As an employer, hiring a new employee is a HUGE amount of time and financial drain on my department. Regardless of what somebody does know or thinks they know, I rarely get full productivity from someone until perhaps a year (sometimes less, sometimes more). If they are looking for such temporary employment, I need them to just look elsewhere.... I need some reasonable return on my investment.

I don't expect people to stay at a job for decades anymore (although there is nothing wrong with that... I have 25 years now with the same company) and I know sometimes a job is just not a good fit. But turnover in a small department can be devastating. If I were to see the same resume with 5 years, 3 years, 6 years, that looks FAR more attractive.

Re:Job Hopping (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | about 5 months ago | (#47388859)

I'm an employer too, and what I care about is whether the applicant's skills are a match for what I need to get done. If I had your kind of hang-ups about people who knew how to pick a better opportunity when one came along, I'd get much less work out the door.

-jcr

Re:Job Hopping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388931)

The relation will be mutually beneficial or it will be short. It is pretty simple. Employees that produce will expect reciprocity.

Weird.

Re:Job Hopping (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388897)

You are really restricting your talent pool then. There are plenty of people that can't find jobs except for contract work, temp, etc, and you are penalizing them for the way the market is behaving. It is not necessarily a reflection on the person, but more so the market. And of course you contribute to the problem -- these people can't find steady jobs they'd like to stay at because the steady jobs think they "jump around too much", so they get stuck in a cycle of having to take contract work because no one feels comfortable hiring long term. It is a problem caused by businessmen, and I hope you will change your attitude and not be like that, and at least give some of those people a chance at an interview instead of going in the trash pile.

Re:Job Hopping (2)

Cederic (9623) | about 5 months ago | (#47389185)

It depends what I'm looking for.

If I'm recruiting someone to deliver a single project, with a skillset we don't have in-house, then I'll look for a contractor and I'll focus on skills, delivery and availability.

If I'm recruiting someone to help progress the company, suggest and lead strategic work, fit into and enhance the culture and cope with multiple complex pieces of work at the same time, I'm going to want someone with a track record of working with a large corporation, that understands how they work and how to work effectively within them, and that has the length of service that suggests that at a minimum they could work the system well enough not to get sacked.

It's destructive and expensive employing people that can't fit into a team, or that wont be happy at the company.

Re:Job Hopping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388907)

There is no huge financial drain on hiring someone new. That is just bullshit. The huge financial drain is when you lose someone who had expertise and experience over bad management.

More often than not people leave jobs for the following reasons:

1. Low pay. They took the job because they had to, then someone else offered them more.
2. Average pay and no growth opportunities.
3. Ridiculously long hours. People can and will burn out. But once you show that you can work miracles, people expect you to perpetually.

As a hiring manager you need to ask people what they want and not hire if you can't give it to them.

Re:Job Hopping (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 5 months ago | (#47388957)

For 9 years I was a contractor, doing what needed to be done for many different clients. 1 year? My longest contract (with all the extensions) lasted for 5 years, and I left that one to start my own business. My shortest contract was about 2 weeks, I came to do what the client needed, did it and went on.

Re:Job Hopping (2)

pathological liar (659969) | about 5 months ago | (#47389019)

You're externalizing blame.

If you have a problem with 'hoppers' have you looked into why you're failing to retain people?

Small companies are especially bad for that: fewer employees means fewer paths for personal/professional advancement: there's nowhere 'up' to move, and wearing a half-dozen hats might seem like variety at first, but you'll be wearing those same hats forever. It's too bad that they have less room to take the hits from people leaving and new people coming up to speed, but it's also unreasonable to expect people to stick around past the point they gain anything from the exchange. People *should* be moving on when they feel they're stagnating.

Re:Job Hopping (2)

Cederic (9623) | about 5 months ago | (#47389227)

He didn't say that he has a problem with hoppers. That may be because he's careful not to employ them.

There's a difference between people growing out of their role and moving on, and people job hopping.

Re:Job Hopping (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389101)

you are being silly, there are people who see a project through and then leave. No one minded six to 18 month jumps on my resume for a decade because I completed, turned over, and trained people for the projects for which I was hired and employer was delighted with my work. Of course, I explicity stated that on resume.

Re:Job Hopping (1)

carbuck (1728596) | about 5 months ago | (#47389201)

I'll be honest, if you were the hiring manager at my company, you would be the first one out the door. Although experience is awesome, new people always come in ready to work, and they always present fresh ideas. When I hire, I don't really consider their length of employment as much as I do their skills. And, to be totally honest, I'd prefer to hire someone with 1 or 2 years of experience in my industry as compared to someone that had 25 years. The person with 1 or 2 years is usually more flexible and ready to learn, whereas the person with 25 years will always expect things to operate like their last job. I would be curious as to why someone with 25 years hasn't taken the initiative to learn something new. I realize that sometimes people only have one skill, or they just get comfortable with doing the same thing everyday. I've always had better luck with people who had 1-3 years in various jobs, even non-related jobs, because they have learned a lot of different skills and a lot of different ways of getting things done, and hopefully they'll bring some better ways of doing things to my company. If you are not considering people simply based on their length of employment, you're probably hurting your company more than helping it, and may explain why you have a crapload positions to fill.

Re:Job Hopping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389203)

Companies that last 25 years are few and far between, let alone companies that not only last that long but also don't cause turnover through shitty management practices.

Been programming in java since 97.

Most of my job hopping has been due to:
1) Only way to get a raise. Especially early on. These days my salary has been stable for years so I mostly move for other reasons now. But the fact remains that at 99 percent of positions developers WILL NOT GET RAISES. No matter what.
2) Companies failing. Number one cause. Some of the best companies to work for are startups (at least in my opinion) but they go under from time to time.
3) Companies being horrible to work for because they were clueless about development or the people running the place were just giant assholes. Typically these are non-software companies that have permanent software development departments. These tend to be the most "stable" environments because the revenue stream isn't directly dependent upon anything the developers are doing and the guys running the company typically have no idea what the wizards are doing except that it's really important. These tend to be the places where shitty programmers accumulate over the years- the good ones always leave for better money and bigger challenges and the shitty ones are afraid to venture out and risk the unemployment they deserve.

Any good developers that can be tricked into joining these "stable" engineering environments typically
a) try to actually fix things, which angers the natives and gets them pushed aside (at which point they realize they cannot do what they were hired for and quit)
b) run away screaming from 20 years of cruft that the natives have piled up
c) will be perceived as overpriced compared to the already in-house programmers, which will strongly induce management to cut them at the first sign of odd behavior

Lower limit. (1)

mbone (558574) | about 5 months ago | (#47388823)

At a minimum, at least as often as you get fired.

Re:Lower limit. (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#47388943)

So, 24 hours then?

Re:Lower limit. (1)

mbone (558574) | about 5 months ago | (#47389179)

That depends. How often do you get fired?

How long does a job last? (1)

swm (171547) | about 5 months ago | (#47388831)

I've made my career building out new applications that are enabled by advancing computer technology. These jobs only last for a few years. A basic product development cycle is maybe 2 to 5 years, at which point you've either
- succeeded, and don't need people like me any more
- failed, and definitely don't need people like me any more

When the job goes away, I find a new one. Sometimes I find a new job at the same company, but that is inessential.

The short tenure of these jobs doesn't have much to do with me. It is driven by the staggering speed at which the underlying computer technology is advancing and changing.

Re:How long does a job last? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47388879)

You should probably plan on being unemployable after you're 52 or so.

Re:How long does a job last? (1)

swm (171547) | about 5 months ago | (#47388935)

I'm older than that and still employed.

I don't hire (1)

mexsudo (2905137) | about 5 months ago | (#47388849)

I don't hire folks that hop around. It is just not worth my effort. If I want temporary help I use one of those "warm body" agencies

Re:I don't hire (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47388911)

And what is the limit you have to consider for job hopping?

Also consider that if a person has had different jobs in different areas of experience it can be an advantage - it also depends on why the person was holding on to a job for a certain period. It may have been a time-limited job. A year in heavy industry, a few years in commercial software development, a few years in government work - it can be an advantage.

The same answer as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388855)

how often should you change girlfriends?
Answer: when starts to suck badly.

depends on your age and what you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388863)

If you are young, one of the best ways to learn and progress in your career is to change jobs a number of times.
Times change, but when I was starting out as a web dev, it was 'good practice' to have terms of 2 to 3 years for a role. Too many periods of short term employment tended to be a turn-off for companies, as they have to invest time on new employees. Whether this applies in all countries or regions, I'm not sure, but it's a good rule of thumb.

Be wary of very small companies, whilst they can be an incredible learning experience with a good deal of creative freedom, they can also suffer from cash flow issues. It's a volatile market.
Keep yourself ready to jump ship & be aware what's happening within the company you work at. The signs are easy to spot - managers arguing amongst themselves, lots of impromptu closed door meetings unrelated to projects, an expectation for employees to work unreasonable hours and most telling, the sales guys talk more about prospects than actual projects.

As you progress through your career, the other way to increase your income, aside from changing jobs, is to get into a management role. This comes at a price, as eventually, you may find yourself no longer doing what you love. Instead, you could find yourself doing admin and sitting in meetings all day long.

Working at a larger organisation *can* be more secure, but only if there's clear ways to move across departments - that's a sign of a healthy environment where you have the opportunity to change focus and become more valuable.

When you start hitting your late 30's and into your 40's, assuming you haven't started your own business, contract or freelance, it's probably time to settle into longer term employment.
Ideally, you'll have the experience to command a comfortable salary, with perks. If you're not in management by this point, you should be in at least a senior position. For many, this is the most comfortable option.

This is entirely from my own experience - I got tired of moving jobs and sought out a larger company who paid above the odds, had all the benefits & job security. Many of the folks in the tech department where I work have been there over 10 years.

Inflation (4, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 5 months ago | (#47388875)

I tell people I will change jobs for a 30% increase in compensation. That results in a job change every seven years, and here's why. There is a difference between the reported and actual rates of inflation. And annual increases at an existing job more closely track reported inflation, whereas job offers from other companies more closely track actual inflation.

For example, if reported inflation is 3% and actual inflation is 7%, then after 7 years that's a 32% difference.

Missing part of the summary (4, Insightful)

macklin01 (760841) | about 5 months ago | (#47388881)

It's not just that people can "write their own tickets", but that promotions and raises seem to happen much more at time of hire than after good performance. Work on that and there might be a lot less churn ..

Re:Missing part of the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389117)

Yep, I think the only reason software engineer churn isn't as bad as it could be is because even a fair to under-market salary is a good wage relative to most jobs. An ex of mine was a graphic designer and job-hopping there is so prevalent that after maybe 4 or 5 months at her design firm at the time, she was the longest-employed designer there. It wasn't even a bad place to work at, either, it's just that job-hopping is how you get the most money and designers don't get paid nearly as much as software engineers so they have to do what they can.

2 simple rules (1)

simishag (744368) | about 5 months ago | (#47388883)

I have 2 simple rules:

1) If the job is really terrible -- crazy boss, lousy environment, not enough funding -- it should be obvious within 30 days or so. At most companies this is a probationary period anyway. I've quit a couple of jobs quickly for these reasons, and I've found that HR (if not the boss) is generally okay with this. Act professionally, of course, give notice and all that, but It's better to cut ties early if you feel that you and the employer are not a good match.

2) Assuming I get past 30 days and still like it, I've always tried to make it to 2 years before trading up. I've found that after year 1, I'll get a bonus or a bump in salary almost automatically. Year 2 is when the employer starts to look for something more out of me, and also when I'll get a better idea of possible career paths within the company.

My experience is that job hopping is not a big deal as long as you have good reasons, and as long as it's not TOO often. Good reasons include relocation, a substantial (I'd say 25%+) bump in pay, or changing jobs to do what you really want to do. No one will care that you only worked 3 months at The Gap before finding a Web developer job.

There isn't a set time limit. (3, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 5 months ago | (#47388915)

You should move on when you stop having opportunities to learn new skills.

Lots of things can figure into it. (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about 5 months ago | (#47388945)

At least in the USA, unless you are union, government employee, etc...a lot of factors can figure into changing jobs. Right now, for the most part, the USA is in an "employers" economy. With fewer jobs, they have their pick, and salaries can reflect that. Unless your job, career is in jeopardy, it might be best to wait it out, if possible. I think it is always a good idea, to have at least 6 months of funds saved up in the bank, in case something happens. Layoffs, plant closings, job loss do to an injury or illness. A lot of people say no way I can save 6 months, I have bills, children, mortgage, car payments etc... A LOT of those things, are CHOICES. People don't save like they use to. I'm one of those baby boomers that grew up with parents that were young, during the depression. Back then, it wasn't a new car, house etc...it was FOOD! Saving money was something drilled into me. Now, when I got out on my own when I was 18, I, like so many, got into a minor issue with credit card debt. Not really bad, just 10,000.00, but it took me a few years to dig out. After I did, I got rid of them, vowed to NEVER have one again, opened a savings account and instead of spending the money I was paying the credit card companies, I stuck it in the bank, never to touch it. Now days, people spend it as fast as they get it. I have a sibling that is like that. Soon as her, child, husband get money, it's off to dinner out, spending it, then once in a while crying to me or another parent or sibling to loan her money for food, mortgage, medicine... Instead of saving, they spend. Now, everyone is different.... Moving from one job to another is a LOT easier, if your personal finances don't have to play into it. One thing you NEVER want to do when leaving a job, no matter how bad a job is, or how difficult the boss, manager is, NEVER EVER burn your bridges. The bridge you burn today, you may have to cross again some day. Also, give at least TWO WEEKS notice. Any time I've switched employers, I always ask the future employer, I'm giving the former employer two weeks notice, and if I accept the new job, and the old employer wants me gone that day, may I start earlier than expected. Never had one say no. When you do leave, don't announce it to everyone THEN tell the manager/boss. You should always go to them first. Then, it should be their decision when to announce it to everyone else. Of course, if you are in sales, NEVER take anything from your past employer in the way of customer information. If you are good at what you do, your customers WILL find you. I'm in the electronic office equipment business in a small/mid size city (less than 250,000 population). I've been doing this for over 30 years. I've never told a customer, when I leave, where I'm going. My obligation is to the past employer until I leave. I have some customers that have followed me for over 30 years, to 4 different dealers. They WILL find you if you are good at what you do, and, I always carry the idea that customers are MINE first, THEN the companies. I work for the customers, but my employer pays my paycheck, is how I look at it. After you do leave, when speaking of your old employer, speak kindly, it's that burning bridge thing...you never know when it comes back to haunt you.

For Tech/Engineering (1)

SandyBrownBPK (1031640) | about 5 months ago | (#47388971)

My experience (75 yo, retired engineer) is that there is little left of "corporate loyalty." An engineer who STAYS at the same job for a long time is suspect when applying for a new job. Further, raises are usually meager and far-between, so for salary maximization, periodic job changes are mandatory. Now, with portable IRA's and 401-k's, pension loss is less of a problem.

Re:For Tech/Engineering (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389143)

Job tenure in USA really hasn't changed much for those over 25 years old according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 5 years in 1983, got as low as 4.7 years in 1998, then rising to 5.4 years in 2012.

http://www.bls.gov/news.releas... [bls.gov]
http://www.bls.gov/news.releas... [bls.gov]

Re:For Tech/Engineering (1)

SandyBrownBPK (1031640) | about 5 months ago | (#47389155)

Thanks! I DID forget to address the "how long" question!

Re:For Tech/Engineering (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389193)

Engineering is a bit different from IT work though, found the BLS stats on that. In 2002 computer tenure was 3.2 years but had risen to 4.8 by 2012. But those classified as "architects and engineers" went from 5.2 to 7.0 years. Maybe some slashdotters should consider "crossing over"; I'm one of those "bi" skill people having engineering degree and switching from engineering job to IT and back as the market in my area changed over the past 30+ years

http://www.bls.gov/news.releas... [bls.gov]

Go into business for yourself... if your able... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388975)

Go into business for yourself... if your able...

When your sobs start waking up others (n/t) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388981)

(Yes, n/t = "no text")

I last between 2 to 3 years - not my fault though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47388999)

I have usually lasted two to three years at a company before the economic environment changes and the company does a mass layoff on its way to a complete shutdown. It's usually followed by periods of unemployment payments. But there was one stretch in the late 90's where I went from one company to another to another and getting more money along the way. But then the Dot-Com bomb fell and it never really came back. Some guys crashing airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon really didn't help things either.

Re:I last between 2 to 3 years - not my fault thou (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47389167)

Tech sector longevity rising since 2002 though, from 3.2 years to 4.8. Engineering you'll notice has longer tenure, from 5.2 to 7.0 years. that could be possibility for many slashdotters tired of pure IT. yup, you'd have to get some training....

As soon as you can start your own business (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 months ago | (#47389013)

You should change your job by starting your own business, and you should do that as soon as possible. Avoid jobs altogether if possible. Life is to short to sell your time and energy for tokens.

Re:As soon as you can start your own business (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389063)

Don't advise this UNLESS he's also a good salesman and can afford his own sick days and vacation days and health insurance and retirement and insurance. It's a great way to go IF you have all the talents and resources AND can make money from it. Lots of people try, and spend most of their nestegg, then end up broke and taking an even lower paying job just to eat.

Re:As soon as you can start your own business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389109)

Could not possibly agree more, having learned myself the hard way.

slow mover (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#47389027)

I seem to be a slow mover. 5-8 years between job changes.

Re:slow mover (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389083)

Right. 3 years and above is a good average. If someone can't last 3 years, it might not be his fault, but some personalities cannot maintain decent working relationships for that long. 3 years shows an employer that the individual has some interpersonal skills and some dedication to a job. Granted, this seems less important when employees are viewed as temps filling a spot, but employee turnover can be very costly to a corporation.

Thirty Five Years in IT (1)

jacobsm (661831) | about 5 months ago | (#47389037)

And two jobs. One for over 16 years, and going on 19 years at my second.

In my experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389051)

... 3 years seems to be the "sweet spot".

I'm from Portugal, and working in IT since '99. Have switched jobs a few times, the longest I stayed at a place was 7 years. Usually, I stay around 1 to 3 years. Mostly I move because I feel I need a bigger challenge, or an increase in salary, although I was forced to move a couple of times: a company went bankrupt, and the other terminated the position I was in. Of course, I've been working in outsourcing most of this time.

Of course everybody is different, but changing jobs can also be related with challenge and getting more out of your skills. I don't like that feeling that you get when you know everything by heart and very few things challenge you anymore. Perhaps one day I'll have to stop doing it and "settle down", but so far it has been working quite well for me.

Long term jobs are rare and getting rarer. (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 5 months ago | (#47389097)

4 rules for a successful work life:

1) Never stay at a job that sucks.

2) Never feel and "loyalty" to a company or boss- they won't hesitate to kick you to the curb if some accountant decides you're over paid or not needed. They have absolutely zero loyalty toward you, you should have none for them.

3) Don't worry about bouncing from one place to another. If someone asks you why they should hire someone who bounces from job to job ask them how long they realistically expect to keep you around, and point out that they laid off XX engineers X months/weeks ago. Then ask them why you should consider taking a position with such an unstable employer. If your history of bouncing is a problem you don't want to work for these people anyway.

4) Don't settle for work that pays the bills but isn't interesting. The job will quickly start to suck. See rule 1.

Re:Long term jobs are rare and getting rarer. (2)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 months ago | (#47389257)

#2 is mostly but not entirely true. I've been at my current job for nearly 7 years now (and have no intention of leaving as long as the doors stay open) for just that reason: It's a very small software company, and the pay is below market (especially given the number of DevOps hats I wear), but it's more than enough to live on, and the bosses DO treat me with the same loyalty and respect I give them.

Apparently, I work in Narnia.

job market fundamentals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389119)

You should change jobs when you feel like it. Grass isn't always greener though. I usually pay attention to if my co-workers habits are beneficial or toxic, because I expect that to rub off on me.

I don't think there is any harm in changing jobs frequently if you run out of things to do. It's pretty common as an engineer that the project you work in transitions from development to something slower. Contracts aren't a bad way to find your market value. Just keep asking for a little more each time, but avoid having anything end near December or expect a very long vacation.

Whenever It Makes Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389127)

I have been at my current (temporary) job for nearly 4.5 years, now. It is the longest I have stayed at a job in my life and it has treated me the best, thus far. The job goes away in a couple of months and I have a replacement job lined up. Prior to this, my jobs lasted about 2 years each, on average (shortest 9 months, longest 3 years). As another poster has suggested, my biggest pay increases are usually upon hiring (~20%) in at a new job and after my first year review (~10-12%). After that, it is usually slow going (~3-5%).

Good opportunities for increases in compensation outside of salary is to negotiate more PTO. I actually rarely use my PTO (I use the amount I have to use, else lose), but I like to have it as a nice extra "emergency fund." Another item I like to use is insurance.... since you don't always get to start a new job at the beginning of the year, I like to bring up that I have already reached my deductible or something of that nature and I get a sign on bonus that may help with COBRA payments; To date, I have never used those funds on COBRA, but it is always optional retroactively (up to six months, I believe). My latest tactic is negotiating flexible working arrangements up front; since many IT jobs are effectively on-call 24/7 jobs, I state that I want 2-3 days a week working from home. I tell them that I can be flexible when it comes to things that arise and that some weeks I may work entirely at the office and others may be the entire week from home. I think it gives you much greater flexibility... things come up that need addressed at home, or perhaps issues with the kids... or maybe you just have issues being productive at the office. I also like to use it for extending my travel, so I will work remotely on a travel day and have my wife drive while I work. Let's us really make use of our days off.

What are your goals? (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 5 months ago | (#47389181)

Job hopping can be a way to increase your salary a lot compared to staying in one job.

That being said, it has a trap. You will have to save for your retirement yourself. Which means that people who spend their money as soon as they get it, and want lots of it might be tempted to job hop.

So they don't prepare for retirement. Going to try to live on Social security? Good luck with that. The moral is that if you do job hopping, do it while you are young, and save, save, save.

Staying in one or a couple jobs comes with it's own issues. Raises are smaller, promotions fewer. But the retirement options are often better, and you're not likely to need to tap into retirement savings between jobs, as some many job folks I've known.

Dunno if this will help or not, but I did some job hopping in the early 80's after entering the workforce. Nearly doubled my salary over the course of three years by going to three different jobs - ironically, coming back ot the first job I had. Eventually you have to settle down though. After some assignment changes that had me pondering leaving after 15 years on the job, I made the decision that with family and all, I'd hang in there to save up the money for retirement. They had a decent retirement plan, plus some TSA's I could invest in on the side. I ended up with three separate retirement accounts. Another sort of trap, but a nice one. So I retired on my own terms at 55.

So my advice based on my experience would be to job hop as early and quickly as possible when you hit the job force, then go conservative.

Also, do not ever think that a 401K will fund your retirement. You gotta have multiple accounts in multiple places.

And lest ye be accusing me of "Get those damn kids off my lawnism", y'all will find yourself in your mid 50's a whole lot sooner than you think. And that is no time to start thinking about your post-work life. Cuz you'll have one. You think that your job won't be replaced by some recent graduate for half your wages? You might be redundant at age 60 only five years after you got serious about saving for retirement.

Finally, if you think you cant save for retirement - you are 100 percent correct. The people who said there was no point to it during the mid-late 70's, (inflation was the bugaboo then) are the same people who were almost prophetic, because after years of spending their money as fast as they could make it, they can't retire now. Go figure. They did have nicer cars than I did though. There's always that.

Personally (3, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#47389197)

I'd be suspicious of anything under a year. That doesn't mean I wouldn't hire, but I'd want to hear why you left so fast. Hell, I'd even accept "My last employer was bad and made me do X, Y, Z, and thus I left".

The longest job I ever had - 5 years... and I left because they changed overnight and culled all the decent staff - fulfilled my promises, got screwed over, left the next day. Before that, I don't think there was anything under a year but I was working freelance for a while and there not having a client with under a year of service means you're doing well. They just kept buying me back.

What worries me is not serial job-hoppers, it's people with unexplained gaps. It's also people who stay where they are forever (it's easy to know when you're onto too good a thing and just coast... and I've met plenty of coasters who never want to progress and, when they move on, they only have their way of doing things). Sure, again, if you can explain yourself and you come across as so passionate for that job that's probably the reason you stayed, but anything out of the average range needs an explanation.

For yourself? Always look at jobs. How else do you expect to know what the going rate is, what the growing trends are, where the industry is moving, what your competitors are up to, etc.? And every now and then one of those jobs you're casually browsing will seem so much more your kind of thing, and there's NO harm in just applying and seeing what happens. If and when you get the job, that's the time to weigh things up.

I work in independent schools (I'm not a teacher, I do the IT). Once in, as a teacher, your job is pretty much guaranteed for decades so long as you don't screw up. Would you like to know how many jobsites I pick up in my web filtering logs? People keep on top of what's happening, what the competitor schools are doing, where's not a good place to work (you could tell my old workplace was going downhill by the fact that they advertised for an Assistant Bursar, then another Bursar, then another Bursar three months later, etc.), how much you should be earning, what else is about.

Keep your ear to the ground. It helps if you need to leave. It helps with comparisons should be need to go and ask for pay-rises. It helps with knowing what's out there. And it doesn't take any time at all to do.

But time-limits? You leave when you have a reason to leave, and not before. Someone who leaves EVERY year? That's bound to make me wonder why.

YOU fAIL IT? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389249)

Going on 7 years in IT (1)

KozmoStevnNaut (630146) | about 5 months ago | (#47389253)

Strictly speaking it's not 7 years in the exact same position. I have been 7 years with the same company, in 4 different functions under 3 different managers, but always with the same great colleagues, some of whom have been with the company for over 30 years.

I see a decent-paying job as a means to an end, a steady paycheck lets me have fun with motorcycles, electronics, music, movies, food, traveling, all of the things I enjoy in life. As long as the company is willing to pay me a decent wage, provide challenging tasks and projects (and with some of our applications nearing 30 years old, we see a lot of challenges), and a great social atmosphere among colleagues, I see no reason to change jobs. I also have a decent pension, premium healthcare on top of the national healthcare system and access to very competitively-priced insurance deals and so on. It's almost as cushy as an old-school government job, except I have to do some actual work sometimes.

Raises Don't Keep Up (3, Insightful)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | about 5 months ago | (#47389261)

The pattern I've seen time and again is that even if you find an employer that gives regular raises, the market rate for programmers moves much faster than a lame 3% cost of living raise. So, unless you're an assertive extrovert, with a high tolerance for uncomfortable moments with your boss, you probably aren't demanding a competitive raise each year. Easier to just interview every few years and get a big salary bump.

And the employers who lost you? They'll pay much more to replace you, learn nothing from the experience, then repeat the cycle again in a few years.

Whatever Happened to Loyalty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47389287)

I feel morally obligated to stay at a job as long as they'll have me. For me, that averages to around 3 months. YMMV.

Note: It's best not to force the 3 months. As it turns out, employers have this thing called a "Restraining Order" they can apply for and they can actually force you to leave earlier.

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