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Sloan

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How long is too long to stay at a company?

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I've been a junior dev at my current company (my first job!) for a little over a year. Seeing the turnover that happens with my coworkers on a decently regular rate, and none of those resignations being due to some larger company politics, I'm starting to really wonder what the appropriate length is for a developer to stick it out at a company. If anyone could help me with this, I'd appreciate it!

Discussion (19)

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iamschulz profile image
Daniel Schulz

Don't leave your company just because you think your time's up. Have you talked to your colleagues about their reasons? Maybe it's personal change or they got a better job offer from a competitor.

Last time I struggled with a job, my wife put it that way:

There are three columns in a job: Nice colleagues, fulfilling tasks and payment. If one is crumbling, it's probably manageable. Any more, and it's time for a change.

I think that's solid advice.

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erinposting profile image
Erin Bensinger

There are three columns in a job: Nice colleagues, fulfilling tasks and payment. If one is crumbling, it's probably manageable. Any more, and it's time for a change.

This is the same metric that I use!

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cataua profile image
Rogério Caetano

Perfect advice! In my case I add if you stop learning, too

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joolsmcfly profile image
Julien Dephix

Too long is when it feels too long.

If you're stagnating, if you're not motivated when you wake up, and if it looks like things aren't going to change then your time is up!

On the other hand, if you enjoy what you do, are given things to do that motivate you, if you are learning and getting better then stay as long as you want.

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maxfindel profile image
Max F. Findel • Edited on

I'd say that staying a full year is a minimum. That way you get to experience different aspects of your new job (the good, the bad, the ugly) and give it a fair chance. A bonus here is that it looks more reasonable on your CV and does not give out vibes that you are just scouting.

As for a maximum, I'd say it's very personal and it depends on the job. If you are a person that likes to learn, it's when you stop learning. If it's big challenges what makes you tick, it's when it gets repetitive. What I find very important is to leave in good terms and don't burn any bridges. If you can help find a replacement for yourself before you leave, even better. It's a small world and doing thins right always pays off 😉

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Brad

what the appropriate length is for a developer to stick it out at a company

There are lots of reasons to change jobs, but the main one that sticks across industries and has some research behind it is 2 years. This should be long enough to get past any initial on-boarding costs for the company, allow you enough time to learn and gain experience, and enough time to have a positive contribution to the overall company.

That's the minimum recommended length you should stay at a job. Beyond that it's more up to you. You could be one that job-jumps, or one that sticks with it. That's more of a personal decision based on what you want/need out of a job.

Finally, if your a junior developer at your current company for 1 year, you probably should stick around a little longer to get to the 2 year mark, unless there is something that is pushing you to move (bad culture/not enough training/etc). Don't look to leave just because others are leaving, as that could be making career changes just because of FOMO. I'd also consider getting out of the "junior" aspect of your title if you can, for no other reason than resume padding to a degree, as getting another job down the line, in a year or more would mean having a different title on your resume that isn't junior.

Good luck, keep learning, keep growing 👍

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mikeyGlitz

To add to this, switching to a different department or different team is always an option and it doesn't reflect as poorly on your CV. Then again with the prevalence of contracting in the field, you can get away with having shorter times 6 months or a year (that's how much many contracts run for).

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dianale_dev profile image
Diana Le

I recommend thinking and listing out the most important factors to you in a job/career. For me it's:

  • Being able to continuously learn
  • Good work/life balance
  • Fair compensation

There will always be other factors, for example company politics, that can get bad to the point where it creates a toxic work environment, but in general I think about the role and how well it hits those things that are most important to me. Once the job no longer fulfills those requirements is when I think about leaving.

I have friends where salary is the single most important factor to them and they wind up switching jobs every year or two. Unfortunately for a lot of jobs, this is the only way to get a significant raise versus staying at the same company for a long time. So if salary is very important to you, then you should keep that in mind. At the very least, always be aware of what your knowledge is worth so you know if you're being paid fairly.

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Andrew Baisden

If you start to feel like you are part of the furniture it might be time to move on 😝

In all seriousness, I would say that if you find a better salary, location, fresh challenges and career progression. Then the grass could be greener elsewhere.

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Adam Crockett

I have a great job and many people have stayed here for 7yr or more.. I came here thinking I'd leave in 3 years, I changed my mind... Because I still have so much to offer the company and I get so much out of it, I think that's measurable, time spent is not, maybe your worried about getting stuck, you won't.

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remejuan profile image
Reme Le Hane • Edited on

It really depends, you have to weigh it against your own goals and personal growth.

Some people will leave for more money, others leave to learn something new or to simply grow, some will leave for better leadership and mentoring, others for a more fun project.

There are many more reasons, I’ve probably moved on for some if not all of them.

To be honest, I’ve been developing for nearly 12 years, I’ve grown into a few leadership roles, been in a number of interesting projects, yet I’m yet to stay at a company for 3 years, closets I’ve made it was 2y11m. That one I left as they cancelled the project I worked on and I was not moving back to decade old tech.

That being said, I was looking to leave that one too, even being in charge of 3 teams comprising of 13 other developers, I had learned all I could from that job as far as my personal goals went, I had almost left 6 months prior.

I’ve been at my current job for 13 months today and I resigned 2 weeks ago, and it was both for money, growth opportunity and the ability to work on a project that not only solves a real world problem, but one that will actually impact me personally.

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Jon Randy • Edited on

I discovered recently that my uncle (not a developer) worked for only one company in his entire working life of 42 years.

If you're happy, stay... if you aren't, leave. It's that simple.

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erinposting profile image
Erin Bensinger • Edited on

It can be this simple, but it can also be a bit complicated! Here's what I mean:

Having grown up in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan, USA, 42 years of continuous employment was totally standard for older family members of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers working in the automotive industry.

This easily could have been the case for my parents' generation (Boomers/Gen X), too, but the recession and auto bailouts of 2008-9 changed that reaaaal quick as folks lost their employment with companies they had expected to serve forever and earn a pension from. Having watched that happen in my family and community as a young person, I internalized the lesson that companies aren't expected to care for their labor force in the way that they used to. (The decline of labor unions in the US has contributed to this also, but let me avoid a looooong sidebar here...)

Back then and even now, a decades-long tenure with a company would require you to build a long-standing relationship with them. Part of that is relying on the company to support and advocate for you and your colleagues, during and after your employment with them. To me, the key there isn't passive satisfaction, but active investment in trust and relationships.

TL;DR So, I would ask the person who wrote this question:

  • Do you feel supported by the relationships you have with your colleagues?
  • Is there room for those relationships to grow and strengthen, or does it feel like a dead end?
  • Do you trust the company to keep your best interests at heart and act on them — in the short term and the long term?

If the answers are mostly "no," it might not be a long-term fit, even if you're satisfied right now. Wishing you luck in navigating this process!

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deozza profile image
Edenn Touitou

For me, there are 3 things that keep me in a job :

  • work environment
  • work itself
  • compensation

Work environment

Are you working on a project that matters to you ? Having fun with colleagues ? Is the management toxic ? Are you happy with the amount of work from home and work from office ? Do you have nightmares at night because of your job ?

Work itself

Where are you on your learning curve ? Are you experimenting enough ? Is there too many bory day-to-day tasks ? Is the tech stack fun and pleasant enough ? Is the amount of work manageable ?

Compensation

Can you live decently with your job ? How are you compensated compared with others in your team ? Others in your region ? If the job is shitty, at least the paycheck makes you happy ?

Usually, companies can't provide them all, and can't provide 2 of them for a long time. And that happens in 1 or 2 years. The first year, you are a junior on the project and everything looks exciting. Then, you start to notice issues with management that won't be resolved and lingered for years, the tech stack can't evolve due to old decisions, and the paycheck can't keep you there.

There is not enough retention for you to stay, and you go to greener fields

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heatherw profile image
HeatherW

Echoing what many others have said: are you still learning new things where you are, is the work place culture good, is the pay sufficient to meet your needs and are you feeling like you still have stuff to give to the company.

I have been at my current job for nearly 12 years which is a rarity in today's world. I started when the company was just a little start up and have seen it grow. Along the way I changed careers (technical content editor to developer) and have grown with the company. I stay because I get the chance to do so many different aspects of development and don't do just one thing. In larger companies you can often end up stuck on just one type of tech or solving the same coding issues over and over again. If that happens it might be a good time to move on.

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Gamerseo

Working in a given company is also about development. It is especially important at the beginning of a career. So if you do not have much view and experience and your work is monotonous, you can think about changing your job.

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michaelllls profile image
Michaelllls

I always changed the company when I felt that it was stopping growing. So I changed jobs quite often. But the effect of this is that I currently have my own company.

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Souk Syp.

It’s love and hate product that my team and I build. If one day I no longer feel helpful to the team, I’d just go build things somewhere else.

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Alain D'Ettorre

Thinking of changing job because other are changing job is utterly bad. Better jobs, better conditions, favoring one technology over another, personal reasons (like moving) are far more important.