In the world we live now, it’s very hard not to have a job when you’re a software developer. If you have a LinkedIn account, you’re probably getting job offers every few days. You might be replying “thank you, I am not interested” to most of them, but maybe you should be interested. How long have you worked in your current company? 2, 3, 5, 10 years? Is it time for a change? I will try to help you in answering this question today.
Two developers talking over a beer:
- I lost my job last week…
- Oh my God - how did you feel about it?
- It was the worst 30 minutes of my life!
We live in an IT El Dorado. There are more jobs than developers. Companies are in a constant race for perks. They offer higher and higher fees, better offices, bonuses, unlimited vacations. Everything - just to get your attention. There are two things I would like to discuss here. One is when it is not worth to change your job and the other - when it is.
- Don’t sell yourself for perks
- I am working in one company for X years - is it time to quit?
- Don’t stay in a toxic job
- What about job hopping
Don’t sell yourself for perks
I know it’s cool to have a pool table in your office. Or an Xbox, Foosball table, breakfast buffet, free lunches etc. It all does sound great, but if you’re happy with your job, if you learn something new every day, if the atmosphere in the office is great - it’s probably not worth to trade it for some of these perks. The same goes with money. If the other company is offering you more money, consider it only if it’s significantly more than what you have now. Think about it. You like your current job. You know the people, know what to expect, have your position. Is it worth to trade it for 5% more on your payslip? I don’t think so. You never know what awaits you on the other side. You probably won’t have time to play the Xbox and may end up in some boring project. Be very careful when talking to a company which tries to sell you this cool looking office full of toys. They might not need that if they have an interesting job for you.
I am working in one company for X years - is it time to quit?
I have worked for one company for 10 years. Does that make me crazy? It’s for you to decide. I started as a developer, then became a team leader, development manager. I had the freedom of choosing tasks for me. I dealt with web dev, iOS and Android. Services processing loads of data. Fun stuff. I have gained a lot of experience in many areas. Additionally, the people were great, the atmosphere in the office amazing. If you have such a job, I wouldn’t worry about how long you work there. It doesn’t matter. You learn new things, get experience and have fun with the team.
But… If your job is to do the same things every day. If it doesn’t challenge you. Or if there is a toxic environment in the office, I am sure you can quickly find something better. Just make sure you don’t rush the decision about joining a new company. Make a research, ask around - you don’t want to end up in a similar place.
So to answer the question - in my opinion, it doesn’t matter how long you work in one company. What matters is are you happy with your job and if it stimulates you to be a better developer.
Don’t stay in a toxic job
You could get the impression, I am against changing jobs. I am not - I think it’s not worth it if there’s no reason for that. But if it turned out only things you do are boring tasks, if your boss is crazy, or there is no team spirit - life is too short to work in such places. Think about it - you spend over 30% of your weekdays at work. If you don’t like it, you need to search for something better.
What about job hopping
In general - it’s not great if you change jobs frequently. Unless you’re a freelancer of course. When I was interviewing programmers, it always brought questions if a person knows what they want, can’t commit or would just go somewhere else because they offered them $100 more. But… I wouldn’t worry about it so much if you really had good reasons to quit every few months. I definitely think it’s better to change job early than to stay in a toxic one. You just have to be prepared to answer questions about it on the interview.
Setting up your career path is a subtle art. You only have one life and there is just so much you can do with it. To achieve some kind of success you’ve got to be careful in choosing your jobs. It’s also very important to observe your environment and yourself to know when it’s time for a change. Remember that whatever you decide, change usually motivates us. But to become a specialist one has to learn also how does business work. And to do that you need to stay in one place for a year or two. At least once ;)