As a new software engineer, why should I stay at a company for longer than one to two years? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Job-hopping may lead to an interesting gap in your career if you decide to switch jobs every year or two and ask for salary updates.
More often than not, there’s a company that is rapidly growing and looking for talent due to funding or an influx of new customers (uncommon as compared to the history over the previous years). The work overload is pressing the HR team to increase the salary cap until they find the talent and manage the workload for the time being.
What happens next is depleting the funding or losing some customers along the way due to a management process that wasn’t planned for rapid growth. It’s quite common for many organizations. Who are the first members on the line when that happens? Newer hires with higher salaries than veterans who are more knowledgeable and acquainted with the business and the codebase (and more reliable when looking at the bigger picture).
I’ve seen that happening a few times over the years - most notably during the recession in 2008. Some fellow students and colleagues of mine were fired (the whole departments were let go) and applied to hundreds of other companies, desperately looking for any job. One of them applied to my team with a third of his previous salary and finally settled on a quarter of the paycheck with another team that was looking for his profile. It was a massive hit that also turned his lifestyle around (middle class folks tend to increase their expenses according to their paycheck).
HRs often look for similar patterns in CVs - such as juniors who quickly jumped to seniors and tech leads and suddenly left a job a couple months later, applying back as mid-level developers. While this isn’t necessarily a problem with an employee, this may become a pattern for job-hoppers or folks who push their limits beyond their capabilities, hence having unrealistic expectations or being more aggressive with their career goals. Reality checks are paramount for HRs as they want new staff members to be happy, satisfied with the company’s offer, and motivated over the next years instead of constantly looking for the “next big thing”.
George Moromisato has also outlined something important for larger companies:
All the top software companies, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc., have mature codebases measured in millions of lines of code. A new employee, no matter how experienced, will take a while to get familiar enough with the codebase to be productive. They will take even longer to become an expert.
If we believe that the one to two year employment duration is in fact common, getting acquainted with the code base takes six months and becoming an expert takes about two years, then what’s the benefit of hiring a high-paid worker who would be comparably productive to a junior or mid-level one who needs to go through the very same process of understanding the specifics of the infrastructure and underlying architecture?
Both paradigms are incorrect here and the regular job-hopping happens in only two real-world scenarios:
- People who simply aim for larger pay check and don’t care about the company culture in the slightest.
- Companies that fail to develop their talent and communicate (both ways) the growth path and possible opportunities for developers.
The first case is inevitable - HRs are trying to identify job-hoppers early on and vet them carefully during interviews, figuring out whether there is an unfortunate series of events that led to several job transitions, or they are simply dealing with a job-hopper.
The second case is something that employees should try to digest before applying to a company. That means reading as much about the company as possible, exploring and studying the company history, or even reaching out to existing or former employees and asking them about the company. Some company review websites like Glassdoor aggregate reviews that may be deceiving (vengeful ex-employees) or somewhat legit, and interpreting this data may help out with the decision making process as well.
In general, career growth is possible in many organizations that care about their talent and have developed professional management and HR processes in-house. When interviewing engineers myself, I do appreciate folks who have studied the company and have practical questions regarding their career path and possibilities, as well as their professional expectations while working with us for years to come.
This allows both parties to assess the possible collaboration and identify whether there’s a fit which would suit the company and the employee, and lead to a prosperous business relationship over the years.
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