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How long before you switch jobs?

Just curious,

I have found that I usually switch jobs about every 2 - 2.5
years. Im just curious if that is considered often, or quite
normal.

How long do you guys usually stay with a company before you get bored and think about moving on?

What do you guys do to keep yourselves unbored?

Patrik
Friday, August 16, 2002

12 months : laid off
18 months : bored since the second day, finally left
12 months : laid off
12 months : bored again, but job market sucks

thinking about an MBA

yes, I measure in months
Friday, August 16, 2002

Shortest job: 4 months
Longest job: 3.5 years
Current Job: 2.75 years
Average: ~1.5 years (15 years/10 jobs)

I'm actually relatively happy with my current job - I'm hoping that it'll become my longest. My prior two jobs were 6 months (.com'ed) and 4 months (my shortest).

I quit the 4 month job because I was bored sitting around waiting for sales guys to make sales so I could customize the products. I wasn't the only one - the company had major plans for expanding in the US (was big in the Nordic area & parts of Asia). When I turned in my resignation, the president of the US division tried to talk me out of it. I'm glad I left - a friend of mine left a year later and said that he hadn't really done anything in that year.

I've learned many lessons from my hopping - the most important are:
1. never work in a branch office (they get closed or stop hiring).
2. don't be the only c++ programmer (or other language/tech) in the company.
3. make sure the boss/owner of a small company is competent (even if they are rich).
4. things change - if you're thinking of bailing out, wait a month.

jeff
Friday, August 16, 2002

First and longest job:  16 years
Shortest job:  3 months
Current job: 2 years and looking good so far.

Have to second the notion of patience.  Most recently, with respect to small companies, if things are fundamentally sound - or if they are not yet people are interested in changing them to become sound - then patience is your friend.  Look for the suckage vs. benefit curve.  Have steps been taken to deal with incompetence?  Expecially in the directorship levels, this is especially imporant.  When the firings come (and they will) are the right people being fired, or are fifedoms and politics the game?

At each place I've worked, my intuition about staying long term was always right within the first 3 weeks.  Based on that, I'll either leave or stay based on the 3 week test going forward (of course that presumes alot).

Nat Ersoz
Friday, August 16, 2002

Shortest: 1.5 years
Longest: 17 years

Lesson learned: Always have alternatives available.  You never know when you need to jump ship.

That 17 year job wasn't great.  It was just better than most alternatives and always seemed like after a couple of years things would get better.  Then the dot-com/Internet bubble came along, the company (a small one) got bought (the founders got a bunch of money) and the buying company proceeded to trash the culture of the little one, after which people started leaving in droves.

Second lesson: If your employer gets bought out, be sure to have your resume ready and start looking for alternatives.  The buyer might not come in to cut jobs, but the place might not be worth working for anymore.

mackinac
Friday, August 16, 2002

> 2. don't be the only c++ programmer (or other language/tech) in the company.

Can you elaborate on why you dislike this scenario?  My most lucrative longterm contracts were exactly this type of situation.  Of course, it WAS a relief to cross-train the client's employees, as I felt it was very poor management to have support of ANY mision critical system hinged on one employee. 

But, some people may prefer the job stability inherent to a situation like that. 

Bella
Friday, August 16, 2002

We're talking jobs - not contracts.

Here's a couple downsides that came quickly to mind (there were more...):

1. no one to talk to about problems, except in the most general way.

2. company decides to change technologies (like going to SAP), your technology is given the least thought (why we thought you'd like to learn ABAP/4 too, all the other programms do).

jeff
Friday, August 16, 2002

"we can hire 2 ABAP/4 programmers for the price we're paying this c++ programmer".  Start a new project & get rid of the contractor!

semi
Friday, August 16, 2002

once you become 'unreplaceable' you also become 'unpromoteable'.

Steve H
Monday, August 19, 2002

Can't remember where I saw it (or the exact quote), but it went something like "If you find you have an invaluable employee, one that you can't do without, fire him immediately. You'll eventually have to do without him anyways and he obviously hasn't been sharing his knowledge with other."

jeff
Monday, August 19, 2002

However, "fire the indispensible employee" doesn't work when the company is small enough that *everybody* is (more-or-less) indispensible and/or wears multiple hats.

For example, where I work, our current personnel complement is:

1. President/hardware designer
2. Office manager/sales/accounting
3. Documentation/marketing/web/network admin
4. Purchasing/inventory
5. Board layout/conformance helper/inventory helper
6. Software
7. Technician/conformance
8. Receptionist/data entry

Some of us can be replaced with a shorter "come-up-to-speed" time than others, but when you're running on a minimal staff, it's hard to find someone who isn't effectively indispensible.

Software Department
Monday, August 19, 2002

Hmm...actually I would say there's not much difference between the small company and the large one in knowing who you need to fire.  The minute you say "No one *in the world* could possibly handle the flux capacitor like Jim," it's time for some hard thought.  Either Jim is intentionally taking advantage of the company (that's bad - fire him), or you are encouraging and/or requiring him to do so (in which case you should technically fire yourself).  One way to tell, of course, is asking "Is Jim an isolated case, or does this company always have a few Jims?"

Mikayla
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I've worked in an entire company full of Jims.

Knowledge was power and nobody was talking.

mack aveli
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I still work in a company where Jim is the only way to get ahead. There's no way you can develop anything of quality here, because our products are grey targets that no-one understands. As a result, any niche of info you make for yourself attracts gold stars. If you don't pick up information by word-of-mouth or through pain-staking reverse engineering of badly commented/sprawlingly complex code, your career suffers.

I was doing fine but when I realised this (oh and a few other things - another story) I knew I had to go. Too painful to watch others suffer through that kind of system.

Sad thing was, that was well over a year ago. The job market here in Japan isn't so good for a foreigner at the moment... its wait or leave the country. Wish me luck =)

Paused in Japan
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

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