Job Search Tip of the Week – 04/20/2016

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The Case for the Perpetual Job Search

Part II: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

To job search or not

How can you tell if you should stay or you should go?

As I mentioned last week, it is not uncommon for software engineers and software developers to change jobs every two to three years to keep up with the rapid rate at which technology changes.

“Job hopping,” at its core, is the belief that exposure to new technologies, problems to solve, and work environments makes you a more well-rounded technology professional. However, keeping up with technological advancements and staying competitive in the job market doesn’t necessarily entail constantly switching jobs.

The key to maintaining your marketability as a technology professional is to evaluate what you’re getting out of your job and consequently recognize when you have a good thing going and when it’s time to move on:

  • Is your salary being consistently reviewed? Keeping up with the industry’s salary changes demonstrates recognition and appreciation of your value to the organization. For your reference, the technology industry’s average salary ranges for 0-3, 3-5, and 5-8 years of experience are $55,000-$70,000, $70,000-$85,000, and $85,000-$100,000 respectfully. You can check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find average salaries for specific occupations within the Computer and IT industry. I encourage you to monitor job trends on your own so you’ll know exactly how valuable your skill set is in the job market (which will give you the confidence boost you need when it comes time to negotiate a raise) and what skills to learn to increase your market value.

  • Are upper management vacancies filled with internal promotions rather than outside hires? Be aware that some companies promote based on tenure rather than technical skill level (You can see if yours is one of them on Glassdoor!), which can slow the advancement of your career. But if a company promotes from within, it’s demonstrating a belief in its people, their skills, and their aptitude. If you’re a Software Engineer, you should expect to be promoted to a Senior Software Engineer after 3-5 years of experience, and depending on your career trajectory, either a Team Lead or a Software Architect a few years later.

  • Is your company still using the traditional waterfall methodology? As a software engineer or developer, whose job it is to find which one of a multitude of solutions best solves a problem, you should be wary of the “This is the way we’ve always done it” mentality. By working in an agile software development environment, you’ll be exposed to the perspectives of professionals other than those on your development team. This enables you to see the bigger picture and think more “outside-the-box,” qualities of a more proficient problem solver.
  • Do you feel that all you’ve been doing is cushy maintenance, with no new projects or clients on the horizon? Being stuck in an environment where you’re only utilizing one skill set decreases your value to both the organization and the job market! There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back.” In other words, you stagnate when you tread water (aka, hone your skills but don’t develop new ones) and progress when you constantly challenge yourself.
  • Is your company going mobile? Mobile is rapidly emerging as the core method of communication between companies and their consumers. If your company isn’t having you learn or use HTML5, JavaScript, Objective-C, Ruby on Rails, and the Android or iOS platforms,  you’re already falling behind!

Ask yourself: Is this company and what I’m doing in my current capacity allowing me to develop my skills so that I can advance in my career? Your learning curve becomes steep whenever you take advantage of new opportunities and promotions, as you’re immersed in new technologies, a new project, and a new development team. You don’t ever want to lose that momentum!

Proactively seek ways to avoid plateaus in your personal and professional development. However, if you find yourself going outside of your company more often than not to find those opportunities, it’s time to move on.

Photo Credit: “Traffic Light Tree” by William Warby