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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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  • Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by forrie (695122) * on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:49PM (#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.

  • by bangular (736791) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:53PM (#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.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:58PM (#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:Job Hopping (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Saturday July 05, 2014 @01:09PM (#47388859) Journal

    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

  • Inflation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday July 05, 2014 @01:12PM (#47388875) Homepage

    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.

  • by QuasiEvil (74356) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @01:56PM (#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:Every day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Almost-Retired (637760) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @02:08PM (#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

  • Personally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @02:17PM (#47389197) Homepage

    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.

  • by St.Creed (853824) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @03:19PM (#47389473)

    I run projects with companies that last for 3-6 months, delivering complete data warehouses (at least the first iteration, documentation and trained permanent employees). And that includes the time to start things up, get the resources, people and materials, etc.

    18 months is longer than my longest project to date. I've had to fire someone from a project where he wasn't making a positive contribution in *week two*. Let alone 18 months. I really can't imagine that.

    Maybe it's a bit like the people who claim you need years of experience with a certain toolset to become proficient. To which I reply: "so getting a Ph.D. in physics or CS is easier than learning the quirks of your tool? Get a better one." The same goes for your business. If it takes 18 months to learn the quirks, there's something wrong and perhaps you need to bring in someone with a fresh perspective for a second opinion.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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