Tech Employment: When to Stay Put, When to Move On
According to a recent LinkedIn report, the employee turnover rate in the tech (software) industry in 2017 was 13.2 percent — the highest across all industries surveyed. One reason why tech professionals change jobs so often is that they are in high demand. With companies competing to offer the best compensation, many employees are naturally eager to move.
Besides pay, growth, learning opportunities, occupation change, location change, alignment of values, and work-life balance are other reasons for many wanting to switch jobs. Over the last 10 years, the tech industry has seen an increase in the number of jobs. Professionals with relevant skills have more choices.
No wonder that a job switch every two years in some IT sectors is quite the norm these days. According to LinkedIn, user experience designers, embedded software designers, and data analysts changed jobs most often in 2017.
While there are instances when you know for certain that leaving is the best option, there are times when one isn't sure of whether to stay or move on. How do you know when to make a move? What factors does one consider before arriving at a decision? Let's look at this in the light of 2 common scenarios that many IT pros face nowadays.
Scenario 1: It's Time to Get Out
Sometimes, you've had enough. In this scenario, you do not have an offer of employment from anyone but are so fed up that you feel you can't handle another day at work. This could happen due to high stress, job dissatisfaction, a bad manager, a negative work culture or company values and priorities.
Whatever the situation, what you first need to ask yourself before you quit your job without another one in hand is whether you can handle being unemployed until you find a suitable position. Do you have enough saved up to pay your bills for a few months? Will you be able to weather the uncertainty as well as take family pressure and the social impact in your stride? Consider the practical implications of being unemployed and compare that with your present situation.
If you want to leave because you're bored of the same routine and are not learning anything new, it is best you focus on finding a stimulating assignment rather than quitting without a new gig in hand. After all, another month or two of monotony is unlikely to harm you. If you intend to work independently and have a plan in place and finances worked out, then it might make sense to take the plunge.
A high-stress situation over months together is, of course, another matter. Prolonged stress can have an adverse effect on physical and mental health. Everybody experiences a stressful week now and then but high stress over a long period should not be ignored because it can lead to burnout.
If stress is impacting your health, leaving you completely exhausted, devoid of enthusiasm or demoralised, then you need to take a break. Bad health can affect your performance as well. Being stuck with deteriorating health and a career that's going nowhere is serious and needs to be addressed.
Ask your boss for an appointment and discuss your situation with him. You could ask for a lighter workload or to be assigned to a different role. Speaking with an HR representative is another option. Perhaps, a transfer to another department might make a positive difference.
If these options are not available, then you really need to take time off before things get worse. One of the best things to do here is to apply for sick leave. A break will not only help you recoup, you will also have plenty of time to weigh your options and look for other opportunities.
Your focus should be on freeing yourself from stress and on finding a better job so that you can resign from your current dead-end situation by the end of your leave.
Scenario 2: An Offer You Can't Refuse
Suppose that you don't dislike your current job ... but there's another out there that might be better. This is not unusual in the tech industry, where employers compete with one another to hire the best talent.
In their eagerness to recruit suitably skilled professionals, companies are known to offer someone with a skill set they value significantly more than what he or she currently earns. Why wouldn't you move if you were offered more money, to do something more interesting or challenging?
In this situation, you have more time to think things through and decide on the best option. You're not considering leaving because you have no choice, but because you have a better option. Ask yourself whether you will be better off in terms of job satisfaction, creative fulfilment, recognition, career advancement, and work-life balance.
You may not be dissatisfied with your present job, but it's possible that you're not learning anything new and are not challenged enough. Even if your boss is happy with your work, it's not an ideal situation if you're not developing new skills.
Over time, you could stagnate. In the highly competitive IT industry, you need to keep upskilling to avoid falling behind. This is why career-focused professionals are always on the lookout for challenging opportunities even if they are quite satisfied with their current job.
If you're in this situation, it makes sense to quit for another job that offers more opportunity. In the tech industry, a job change every few years is not necessarily viewed unfavourably — more than a few employers would consider this an indication that the individual is a high achiever. And, if one can develop valuable expertise in different work cultures and environments, so much the better.
Compensation and job content, however, are not the only factors. It's advisable to take a holistic view and compare the positives of your current job with the assumed positives of a new position. Factor in the strategic goals of the company, commercial status, and company values as well as the work culture. Do your values align with those of the new company? A value mismatch can prove to be demotivating.
It's a good idea to find out how other employees in your line of work are doing at the company that's made you an offer. Are they happy with the company culture? On average, how long do people at your level tend to stay at the organization? If people employed there generally think it's a great place to work, then the new offer might be worth a try.
If you decide to resign, it is essential that you keep it civil and professional. No matter what the circumstances, you don't want to create a negative impression. It's important that your reputation doesn't suffer. You never know when you might need a reference from a previous employer or come into contact with them again.