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Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs? 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the headhunters-can-keep-their-opinions-to-themselves dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

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  • Every day (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2014 @11:49AM (#47388737)

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

  • Re:Every day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @11:54AM (#47388765)

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

  • Job Hopping (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:02PM (#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.

  • by macklin01 (760841) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:12PM (#47388881) Homepage

    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 ..

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:13PM (#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.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:16PM (#47388915)

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

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:28PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:46PM (#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.

  • 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.

  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @02:52PM (#47389617)

    Your comment rubs me as having more than a touch of "holier-than-thou"-ness.

    Just relaying what I did. As for holier than thou? I dunno. I did do without a lot of the things that most of my peers thought were essential to their lifestyle. Yearly vacations to Disney World, Buying homes that were beyond their means, several credit cards run to the max. Hell, there was a time that I was considered a fool for not doing as they did, The entire 90's, I was the office idiot. People making a lot less than me where I worked were living in houses that cost twice as much. Replaced cars every couple years while I kept mine at least ten. You know the drill.

    Instead of thinking of me being "holier than thou", perhaps you might look at it this way. While I was living modestly, and saving a lot of my paycheck, these folks were living pretty darn well - certainly better than I was. I just exchanged that for now, when they're probably going to work until they are in their 70's if they are allowed to. They were the smart ones at that time, I was not. Is one or the other better?

    It seems to me that anybody that retires at 55 with three different retirement accounts had an exceptional salary, significant financial support (parents helping with down payments, college, etc.), or both.

    I was paid well, yes. You certainly can't save much money on minimum wage. Financial support? Not a single penny. I was offered some support, but refused it. There might be a lesson there for anyone willing to take it.

    You can take my advice or reject it, I'm on board saying that people should initially job hop, then settle and prepare vigorously for the future.

    You can take that as "holier than thou" or take it as good advice. If you take it, and it works - it was good advice, you were right. If you ignore it because it's not possible , and it doesn't work, you were right. Pretty simple stuff there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2014 @03:55PM (#47389905)
    The sad part is that you believe that shit, actually believe it, which is why you keep voting against your own interests.

    I hope you didn't reproduce.
  • Re:Every day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @04:30PM (#47390049) Homepage
    I was interviewing for a job when I ran into a coworker still doing the same work and getting paid the same money when I worked with him nine years ago. I'm now making 80% more than him because these damn tech companies keep laying me off every so often.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

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