Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

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deuceplus
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Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by deuceplus » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:16 pm

Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

I’m a software engineer in the Boston area with ~9 years experience. I’ve switched jobs quite a few times and on my most recent switch ( < 6 months ago) I landed a decent paying gig paying around 135k base with 25k in cash and stock bonuses. Around 160k per year in total. This is a decent pay package for the area and for my experience and skillset but not outrageously high by any means. The market is RED HOT for developers and market values have risen considerably. In silicon valley it is even hotter with pay packages being 30-40k higher on average.

My question is how come companies are so SLOW to adjust salary for their existing employees based on market conditions. Salary compression is a major issue now at most companies where most new hires are making significantly more than existing hires. I have friends who stuck it out at companies and are only making 100-110k total despite 10 years of experience. If you started work making 60k out of school in 2005 and managed 6% raises every year you’d be making about 108 now…

In my experience even top 20% performers may only get a 4 or 5% raise vs. a standard 3% and that’s at a bigger company. At a startup you’ll get much less as they consider their equity to be the pay raise. I’m also seeing more and more employers adopt bonus programs where they pay out higher performers in bonus rather than salary which isn’t guaranteed year to year. At these employers they drop annual raises to absolute bare bones levels of 1% or 2%.

In this environment I don’t see why anyone would stick around at a place for more than 2-3 years. It seems like 2.5 years is the sweet spot as it’s long enough to ramp up, work on several projects, learn a bunch of new technology and skills, and demonstrate some major accomplishments that you can put on your resume. It is also enough time where (if you’re good and got a lot done) the company has a positive ROI on you and your resume should demonstrate that. If you’re lucky, you might even get some raises and/or a promotion thrown in during 2.5 years.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:34 pm

At some point, you will have to explain jumps on your resume as you interview for a new job. If I were on the other side of the table, I'd be asking you "so if you find a job that's 10% higher than we're paying you, do you plan to jump ship?".

I jumped around a bit 15 years ago for various valid reasons. Anything under 2 years and potential employers question why I was there for such a short time. With that said, I doubled my pay in about a 10 year period.
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surfer1
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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by surfer1 » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:50 pm

I think job-hopping is, unfortunately, the best way to move forward in IT. Companies simply don't offer raises that are competitive with what you can get by moving on. In some cases, a resume that shows someone working at a company for 5+ years (in IT) may actually be a negative. They might question your skills being up-to-date etc.

Now, I do think there is a point where salaries start to hit a wall, and it sounds like you may be at that point. Getting anything higher than 135k (in the northeast) is difficult to do without moving into a management / director/ CTO role.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:53 pm

deuceplus wrote:My question is how come companies are so SLOW to adjust salary for their existing employees based on market conditions.
It is a matter of cost plain and simple. Do you pay market rates to 10% (new hires) or 100% (everybody). Companies are only going to raise salaries to the minimum necessary to retain talent. They accept that some turnover is inevitable.

So yes, some job-hopping is necessary in tech to achieve competitive salary levels. In the first 10 - 15 years of your career 4 - 5 jobs is not unreasonable. Much more than that (or only a 6 month stint) and it starts to be too much. Once you get to mid-career level you should start staying longer.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by nukewerker » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:05 pm

Its one way to get ahead. I increased my pay by over 150% in just over 10 years by doing this as opportunities arose. Sometimes it was within the same company but moving to a different state for a promotion. So I have had 9 or 10 jobs in that time but the longest lasted 4.5 years with same company. So far haven't had any trouble getting a job. Starting to wind it down a bit though. Thinking I'll be at my current employer for at least 5 years.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by nisiprius » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:05 pm

I don't know. The recruiters who got a fee whenever someone job-hops said it is.

The number of years spent in each "reported-on-a-W2" job I've held have been about: 15, 3, 2, 3, 15. The short tenures involved a small startup collapsing, a giant company collapsing, and a medium-sized company where I took the job understanding I'd be writing [marketable] C, and three years later hadn't written a single line of anything but their [surprisingly marketable, actually, but...] proprietary scripting language.

I was never able to solve the problem of wanting a new job so as to do something new, but the people hiring only want to hire people who were doing yesterday what they need to get done tomorrow. I've read all the job hunting guides, and know how to say "C++ is object-oriented, and I know object-oriented programming through and through from the two years I spent coding in Smalltalk." Never worked. They always pointed to the stack of resumes from people with actual C++ experience, then someone would say something about "hit the ground running" and I would know I'd blown the interview. Of course, I suspect that these hiring managers had not actually heard of Smalltalk.

On the other hand, during my long tenures I was able to learn new skills and grow professionally. The key is to have managers know you to be reliable, and--whenever something interesting turns up--say "I can take care of that for you" and be credible. "Well, it's firmware and I've never done firmware, but after all it's C and I've done C. I can take care of that for you." "OK."

I've had managers who thought that the essence of their job was to guess the exact salary such that you'd leave if they paid you a dime less, and I've had managers who did NOT seem to think that way.

I'm pretty sure I didn't optimize my income, though, if that's what "getting ahead" means.

Job-hopping is probably the best strategy if all your managers resemble Dilbert's pointy-haired bosses. It took me a while to appreciate that there is such a thing as a good manager, and I've been privileged to have, let's see: three of them.
Last edited by nisiprius on Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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ThisTimeItsDifferent
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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by ThisTimeItsDifferent » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:14 pm

Yes. Companies only pay what they need to pay in order to keep or get employees. If you don't leave, then they know they don't need to pay you more to keep you.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Watty » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:57 pm

I’m a software engineer in the Boston area with ~9 years experience.
I would guess that you are in your mid 30's now. One of the problems that you will run into soon is that you will be getting fewer interviews because of your age and additional years of experience will not be a plus since by the time you have 20 years experience what you did during the first ten years will have very little relevance. You are likely very capable of learning the next hot skill but you will may have a harder time getting on those projects since the companies can hire someone right out of school for less money and they have already had classes in the next hot thing.

You may be in your peak earnings years now so save like crazy and don't get used to having that much money.

This does not mean that you will be unemployed by the time you are 50, but you need to consider what type of work you will be doing then and start positioning your career that to go in that direction. Eventually you may find that your knowledge of a specific software package, industry, or company is more of what makes you employable than your ability to write code.

In some environments you are basically doing long term contracting work even though you are on the payroll. Employees will not hesitate to leave for a better project and companies will not hesitate to lay employees when a project ends or they have a few slow quarters. You may be to the point where it makes sense to start doing actual contracting to make as much as possible while you can.

I've been a software developer for about 35 years now and I am getting ready to retire so I may be more the exception to the rule. I dabbled in management a few time and I hated it because I don't have the right personalty for it and I enjoy the hands on work more. For the last ten or fifteen years I have been in more a support roll which has worked out well and I could probably do that for another ten years if I wanted to because of my knowledge of a market niche.

Once you have been in management for a few years it is difficult to get back into the hands on technical side so before you take your career in that direction be sure that it a good fit for you. I have seen a number of people try to make the move into management and not have it work out well.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by roflwaffle » Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:05 pm

It can be, as long as you put skills and opportunities ahead of pay. There are more than a few older developers (10-20+ years/$100k+ salaries) at my company who don't appear to have a lot of mobility because they haven't worked with a wide enough range of languages/projects/positions. It also depends on the company. Working for an IT division within another company probably won't provide as many opportunities as working for a company that does only IT.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by vitaflo » Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:13 pm

deuceplus wrote: My question is how come companies are so SLOW to adjust salary for their existing employees based on market conditions. Salary compression is a major issue now at most companies where most new hires are making significantly more than existing hires. I have friends who stuck it out at companies and are only making 100-110k total despite 10 years of experience.
You just answered your own question. Companies don't pay existing employees more because they usually don't have to. They're businesses, not charities.

On the job-hopping front, that's always been the way to make more money, in almost any job (better for hot jobs like tech). Of course, there were times this wasn't true (the dot com bust for example) but the days of getting paid extra for seniority at a company have been over for decades.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by cheesepep » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:04 pm

Some amount of job hopping in the early stages of a career is necessary and expected in order to achieve a decent salary. Excessive job hunting, even when you are talented, will be deemed as not being loyal to a company and you will not be accepted.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by killjoy2012 » Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:56 pm

17 years in IT here.

Job hopping is one way to quickly increase salary, but it comes at a cost. Most hiring managers aren't stupid. If your resume clearly shows that you have job stability issues (what I call 'job A.D.D.'), be prepared to be questioned... or completely passed over. Personally, when I'm reviewing resumes, if someone has had 2-3 jobs of 2 years or less each, especially in series, my red flag goes up. Either you have no loyalty to the company, or worse, you're terrible and bailing from jobs before they terminated you. Either way - I don't want you.

There are some exceptions - contract work, small business owner, etc.

You also need to be prepared for what being at the top of the salary range, compared to your peers, means when the business environment goes south... or worse, your company is acquired. Do I keep Deuce making $160k or Sally making $120k? I keep Sally every time, irregardless of what your capabilities or delivery reputation is. Sure, you could go find another job then (unless it's 2008-09 again), but you're getting back into that short cycle rhythm again.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by HomerJ » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:09 pm

Job-hopping in IT has ALWAYS been the way to make more money...

In big companies, they have stupid promotion guidelines and salary bands that basically ensure that their best IT people will leave after a few years.

And then they'll have to pay more anyway (and deal with the loss of institutional knowledge and 6 months of loss productivity) to replace that person.

Especially in your early years, you will want to change jobs every 2-5 years...

But, warning.... you don't want to job-hop TOO much...

5 jobs in 6 years on a resume is going to hurt your chances of getting hired in the future.

You can have 1-2 jobs that lasted a year or so... but be careful not to jump too often.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by HomerJ » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:14 pm

surfer1 wrote:Now, I do think there is a point where salaries start to hit a wall
Yeah, I'm at that point now, and I plan to spend the next 9 years at my current employer until I retire...

But early in my career (the first 15 years), I jumped ship every 3-5 years or so for 30% raises each time.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by cheesepep » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:17 pm

My first real job had no significant salary increase. I was very disappointed when new hires (I had 1-2 years on them) were making more money (~10%) than me. Two job hops later (and a change in job), I was making about 90% more.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by HomerJ » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:19 pm

vitaflo wrote:You just answered your own question. Companies don't pay existing employees more because they usually don't have to. They're businesses, not charities.
Not very good at business to lose 6 months of productivity from a good worker leaving (bad workers are the ones who are more likely to stay, since it's harder for them to find jobs)...

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by harrychan » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:40 pm

This just happened to me. Recently, I got a 3.5% raise which would put me just under $100k. I am a senior manager in IT. I interviewed recently and although I was unsuccessful, the in house recruiter said they would have no problem with my asking salary of $140k. Now I have switched gears to full engaged in looking to a new job. I have 13 years experience with 7 years in management experience.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by harrychan » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:53 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:At some point, you will have to explain jumps on your resume as you interview for a new job. If I were on the other side of the table, I'd be asking you "so if you find a job that's 10% higher than we're paying you, do you plan to jump ship?".

I jumped around a bit 15 years ago for various valid reasons. Anything under 2 years and potential employers question why I was there for such a short time. With that said, I doubled my pay in about a 10 year period.
HomerJ wrote:But, warning.... you don't want to job-hop TOO much...
5 jobs in 6 years on a resume is going to hurt your chances of getting hired in the future.
You can have 1-2 jobs that lasted a year or so... but be careful not to jump too often.
If you look at linkedin profiles of senior executives at IT companies, you will see majority of the time it is not the case. People do leave jobs after 1-2 years to get ahead.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by perfin » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:01 pm

I've been in tech for about 20 years. I've worked in tech departments at a non-tech companies, at startups, and large tech companies. I'm currently middle-management at one of the companies you probably use for search and worked at a few others.

Is job hopping the best way to get ahead?

Maybe, but maybe not. My two cents is that job hopping is best when you stop growing. If you work for a company without many opportunities, it's quite possible you'll be "stuck" after 2-3 years and job hopping is the right thing to do. On the other hand, if you're at Yahoo!, Microsoft or Google, that's a lot less likely. You may need to move teams, but one of the good things is that you can move to a new team, with new growth opportunities, but still apply a lot of the tech stack knowledge you've learned.

Again, the key thing is keep growing.

A few other things from the thread:
- Nobody in tech is going to ask you about a 2-3 year jump. They're pretty common. (Now 6 months, on the other hand...)

- Mid-thirties is not going to be a problem in terms of being perceived as "too old." FWIW, I've also found people who judge based on age and not skill tend to be idiots. In a way, it's better for all they self-select out.

- If you want top dollar, work at a tech company, not in a tech department. Tech departments are cost centers. Their budgets are ultimately controlled by people who understand little about technology, hence the phenomenon you mentioned of being stupid about compensation. When you're a tech department, the only real focus is on how to minimize costs, including your salary. When you're a fundamental part of how the company grows, your compensation is put against the potential incremental revenue your work generate. That's typically a tiny fraction & hence these companies tend not to be as shortsighted.

- Honestly, you may actually be underpaid. 10 years experience in a major metro (even outside the valley), I would expect someone to be a bit higher. It's not a crazy low amount, but I'd wager with some looking around you'd find more $.

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deuceplus
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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by deuceplus » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:09 pm

killjoy2012 wrote:17 years in IT here.

Job hopping is one way to quickly increase salary, but it comes at a cost. Most hiring managers aren't stupid. If your resume clearly shows that you have job stability issues (what I call 'job A.D.D.'), be prepared to be questioned... or completely passed over. Personally, when I'm reviewing resumes, if someone has had 2-3 jobs of 2 years or less each, especially in series, my red flag goes up. Either you have no loyalty to the company, or worse, you're terrible and bailing from jobs before they terminated you. Either way - I don't want you.

There are some exceptions - contract work, small business owner, etc.

You also need to be prepared for what being at the top of the salary range, compared to your peers, means when the business environment goes south... or worse, your company is acquired. Do I keep Deuce making $160k or Sally making $120k? I keep Sally every time, irregardless of what your capabilities or delivery reputation is. Sure, you could go find another job then (unless it's 2008-09 again), but you're getting back into that short cycle rhythm again.
If the company was going south you'd can a 160k/year employee who was a star performer and keep the mediocre 120k/year employee? That doesn't sound like a plan for success. That sounds like a surefire way to tank the culture of the company and send a very bad message to everyone.

According to your standards you would have passed over my resume. I've had too many short stints for you. I find it funny that you'd be concerned that the frequent job hopper was terrible and was bailing out prior to termination. It has been my experience that the folks who are low performers are the ones who stay around a long time. And at a lot of companies it can take 5+ years before a poor performer gets identified and laid off. My personal experience with poor performers is that they tend to stick around 5+ years at each job and eventually move when they either get laid off or warned. If anything i'd be concerned with employees who have stuck around too long. But using your standards it seems you are biased toward these folk.

It's not easy to job hop. It takes real work and knowledge to be able to land senior gigs with a high enough success rate. Technical interviews aren't easy and require strong preparation and practice. Its also not easy to cram enough accomplishments in 2-3 years to be able to successfully sell a job hop. If i want to switch jobs I cant go in without a strong story to tell for the prior job.

For what its worth, I've had great success with my resume. Nearly everywhere it gets submitted to I hear back and my offer rate is over 50% for in person interviews. Phone screen rate over 90%+ And yes I've hopped jobs. My experience is managers say they don't like job hoppers but when they get a strong resume from one who happens to have ALL the skills they want then they usually prefer the hopper.

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deuceplus
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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by deuceplus » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:16 pm

perfin wrote:I've been in tech for about 20 years. I've worked in tech departments at a non-tech companies, at startups, and large tech companies. I'm currently middle-management at one of the companies you probably use for search and worked at a few others.

Is job hopping the best way to get ahead?

Maybe, but maybe not. My two cents is that job hopping is best when you stop growing. If you work for a company without many opportunities, it's quite possible you'll be "stuck" after 2-3 years and job hopping is the right thing to do. On the other hand, if you're at Yahoo!, Microsoft or Google, that's a lot less likely. You may need to move teams, but one of the good things is that you can move to a new team, with new growth opportunities, but still apply a lot of the tech stack knowledge you've learned.

Again, the key thing is keep growing.

A few other things from the thread:
- Nobody in tech is going to ask you about a 2-3 year jump. They're pretty common. (Now 6 months, on the other hand...)

- Mid-thirties is not going to be a problem in terms of being perceived as "too old." FWIW, I've also found people who judge based on age and not skill tend to be idiots. In a way, it's better for all they self-select out.

- If you want top dollar, work at a tech company, not in a tech department. Tech departments are cost centers. Their budgets are ultimately controlled by people who understand little about technology, hence the phenomenon you mentioned of being stupid about compensation. When you're a tech department, the only real focus is on how to minimize costs, including your salary. When you're a fundamental part of how the company grows, your compensation is put against the potential incremental revenue your work generate. That's typically a tiny fraction & hence these companies tend not to be as shortsighted.

- Honestly, you may actually be underpaid. 10 years experience in a major metro (even outside the valley), I would expect someone to be a bit higher. It's not a crazy low amount, but I'd wager with some looking around you'd find more $.
If you think that is underpaid, what do you think I should be aiming for total compensation?

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by coldplay221 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:31 am

OP - I must thank you for your timely post because I've been thinking about this exact same topic although unlike you I am still at Megacorp after slightly more than 5 years.

The responses in the threads seem to be speaking exactly to my situation and I believe the signs are all there for me to start looking out for a new job. The catalyst for this thought was learning that a new hire was offered 20% more in base pay than when I started and 20% more starting bonus. The new hire's base pay is just 10% less than my current number and I have close to 9 years of relevant experience. :confused

Since I am in a mega corp I've moved between departments learning new things but I keep getting referred to salary bands when I ask for raises and I've been told that my salary has been raised at a constant rate every year. New employees with similar experience are always hired at an extra pay grade and that rankles. This despite being a top performer in the group in my grade pre and post promotions.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by deuceplus » Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:17 am

coldplay221 wrote:OP - I must thank you for your timely post because I've been thinking about this exact same topic although unlike you I am still at Megacorp after slightly more than 5 years.

The responses in the threads seem to be speaking exactly to my situation and I believe the signs are all there for me to start looking out for a new job. The catalyst for this thought was learning that a new hire was offered 20% more in base pay than when I started and 20% more starting bonus. The new hire's base pay is just 10% less than my current number and I have close to 9 years of relevant experience. :confused

Since I am in a mega corp I've moved between departments learning new things but I keep getting referred to salary bands when I ask for raises and I've been told that my salary has been raised at a constant rate every year. New employees with similar experience are always hired at an extra pay grade and that rankles. This despite being a top performer in the group in my grade pre and post promotions.
What is your comp right now?

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by coldplay221 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:15 am

deuceplus wrote:
What is your comp right now?
PM'ed

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HomerJ
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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by HomerJ » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:40 am

deuceplus wrote:My experience is managers say they don't like job hoppers but when they get a strong resume from one who happens to have ALL the skills they want then they usually prefer the hopper.
Again, it depends on how fast one job-hops...

If you stay at least 2-3 years at most jobs, then a good manager knows you can come in and make a real difference even if you leave again in 2-3 years...

If you have a history of multiple 1 year jobs.... it really doesn't matter how good you are... You're not going to do the company much good if you come in and leave in a year, so a good manager will take that into consideration.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by itstoomuch » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:00 am

This is America. Land of free enterprise. Use it or lose it.

[OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by daave » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:56 am

I will offer proof by example that it's possible to 'get ahead' financially without job-hopping.

I've been in my current job for ~3.5 years, at a well-known tech mega-corp, in their NYC office. It's my first job out of college. My job title when I started was 'Software Engineer' and now its 'Senior Software Engineer', but I still do the same thing (not being pushed into management or anything like that).

Code: Select all

Year / Salary / Total Comp (including salary, bonus, and vested stock at mkt price)

2012  / $100K / $120K
2013  / $115K / $170K
2014  / $130K / $200K
2015  / $150K / $240K
2016* / $165K / $250K
*2016 based on current base salary (changed mid-year this year), and all RSUs vesting next year, current market value minus 5%.

So, it is possible to double your total compensation in 3 years without jumping ship, by just focusing on producing high-quality work, showing technical leadership in your organization, and prioritizing high-impact projects.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by bhead33 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:58 am

itstoomuch wrote:This is America. Land of free enterprise. Use it or lose it.

[OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
Ha, love this!

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Morik » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:04 pm

I work in software in the Boston area, have been here maybe 9 years, and have consistently been growing my total comp. But I work for a really great company...

I haven't job hopped at all; the company I worked for got bought out and I have stayed with the buyer.

I think whether job hopping is best depends on whether you can land at one of the very best companies; there are several in the area that compete for employees and keep compensation very competitive.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by yosef » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:05 pm

daave wrote:I will offer proof by example that it's possible to 'get ahead' financially without job-hopping.

I've been in my current job for ~3.5 years, at a well-known tech mega-corp, in their NYC office. It's my first job out of college. My job title when I started was 'Software Engineer' and now its 'Senior Software Engineer', but I still do the same thing (not being pushed into management or anything like that).

Code: Select all

Year / Salary / Total Comp (including salary, bonus, and vested stock at mkt price)

2012  / $100K / $120K
2013  / $115K / $170K
2014  / $130K / $200K
2015  / $150K / $240K
2016* / $165K / $250K
*2016 based on current base salary (changed mid-year this year), and all RSUs vesting next year, current market value minus 5%.

So, it is possible to double your total compensation in 3 years without jumping ship, by just focusing on producing high-quality work, showing technical leadership in your organization, and prioritizing high-impact projects.
Congrats, though my experience is that your situation is the exception, not the rule.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:17 pm

In my experience HR doesn't even know salary ranges are set too low until they start having trouble hiring new people. And even then, it takes a while. Job-hopping is the easiest, though by no means only, way to boost your compensation significantly. In this market there's really no stigma at all for job hopping, not even if you have a history of relatively short hops. Most hiring managers pretty much fully expect you'll only stick around for a max of 2 years these days.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:42 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:At some point, you will have to explain jumps on your resume as you interview for a new job. If I were on the other side of the table, I'd be asking you "so if you find a job that's 10% higher than we're paying you, do you plan to jump ship?".
What I'd like to say: Of course, do you think I'm working for you out of the goodness of my heart? Is it your company policy to pay below market rates?

What I'd actually say: I only switch jobs when there is no longer a good alignment between myself and the employer. As you can see by looking at my resume, job changes were nearly always due to outside factors like moving to a new area or switching job roles.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by deuceplus » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:55 pm

daave wrote:I will offer proof by example that it's possible to 'get ahead' financially without job-hopping.

I've been in my current job for ~3.5 years, at a well-known tech mega-corp, in their NYC office. It's my first job out of college. My job title when I started was 'Software Engineer' and now its 'Senior Software Engineer', but I still do the same thing (not being pushed into management or anything like that).

Code: Select all

Year / Salary / Total Comp (including salary, bonus, and vested stock at mkt price)

2012  / $100K / $120K
2013  / $115K / $170K
2014  / $130K / $200K
2015  / $150K / $240K
2016* / $165K / $250K
*2016 based on current base salary (changed mid-year this year), and all RSUs vesting next year, current market value minus 5%.

So, it is possible to double your total compensation in 3 years without jumping ship, by just focusing on producing high-quality work, showing technical leadership in your organization, and prioritizing high-impact projects.
Where are you working that you are making that much, google?

Maybe i'm totally off base, but it seems like in the Boston area salaries end at around 140-150k for individual devs and those devs are very senior with 10+ years experience.

I just dont see that kind of pay around here. I know only of one company that will do 200k total comp in this area and that's google.

Am I misguided on this?

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by daave » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:26 pm

deuceplus wrote:Where are you working that you are making that much
Without disclosing my employer here, since this could get personally identifiable awfully quickly, I'll just say that I know people at:
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox; all of whom make salaries in that range.

Also note that this is in the NYC area, so perhaps pay is generally higher here than in Boston?

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Morik » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:39 pm

daave wrote:
deuceplus wrote:Where are you working that you are making that much
Without disclosing my employer here, since this could get personally identifiable awfully quickly, I'll just say that I know people at:
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox; all of whom make salaries in that range.

Also note that this is in the NYC area, so perhaps pay is generally higher here than in Boston?
I work for a company similar to (or in) the list above. I work in Boston. I have been in the industry ~9 years and am close to (but not yet) a senior software engineer.

I was getting maybe $80k total cash comp when I started out of college, and am now around $300k total cash comp.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by deuceplus » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:43 pm

Morik wrote:
daave wrote:
deuceplus wrote:Where are you working that you are making that much
Without disclosing my employer here, since this could get personally identifiable awfully quickly, I'll just say that I know people at:
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox; all of whom make salaries in that range.

Also note that this is in the NYC area, so perhaps pay is generally higher here than in Boston?
I work for a company similar to (or in) the list above. I work in Boston. I have been in the industry ~9 years and am close to (but not yet) a senior software engineer.

I was getting maybe $80k total cash comp when I started out of college, and am now around $300k total cash comp.

wow i'm at the wrong company...

I had no idea that there were devs pulling in 300k+

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by coldplay221 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:46 pm

Wow, this thread has been most illuminating and frankly a bit demotivating :(

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:47 pm

deuceplus wrote:
Morik wrote:
daave wrote:
deuceplus wrote:Where are you working that you are making that much
Without disclosing my employer here, since this could get personally identifiable awfully quickly, I'll just say that I know people at:
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox; all of whom make salaries in that range.

Also note that this is in the NYC area, so perhaps pay is generally higher here than in Boston?
I work for a company similar to (or in) the list above. I work in Boston. I have been in the industry ~9 years and am close to (but not yet) a senior software engineer.

I was getting maybe $80k total cash comp when I started out of college, and am now around $300k total cash comp.

wow i'm at the wrong company...

I had no idea that there were devs pulling in 300k+
It's only the top 3% or so of devs, so don't feel too jealous. Most are making well less than half that, even in NYC (and even at Google).

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by mac808 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:08 pm

If you can end up at Google, Facebook, Amazon or similar then they will pay you really, really well. Just job hop until you get in the door at one of those places and then focus on doing your absolute best possible work. Almost any SV or NYC IC dev in the top 50% of Google's engineering org is pulling in >$300k, sometimes substantially more. Mature companies are treating their best developers like professional athletes now, with bonuses and multi-year contracts, in order to keep from losing them to startups. A friend of mine who is an SD4 at Amazon just signed a 4 year retention package worth about 3.4 million in total comp (with RSUs at the current price), and he had competitive offers from other companies. He's probably in their top 100 developers but by no means a unicorn. Keep in mind taxes hit you really hard at these levels, especially in California and New York.
Last edited by mac808 on Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:28 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by greg24 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:11 pm

Morik wrote:
daave wrote:
deuceplus wrote:Where are you working that you are making that much
Without disclosing my employer here, since this could get personally identifiable awfully quickly, I'll just say that I know people at:
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox; all of whom make salaries in that range.

Also note that this is in the NYC area, so perhaps pay is generally higher here than in Boston?
I work for a company similar to (or in) the list above. I work in Boston. I have been in the industry ~9 years and am close to (but not yet) a senior software engineer.

I was getting maybe $80k total cash comp when I started out of college, and am now around $300k total cash comp.
You're not yet a senior engineer, yet making $300k? Congrats.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by greg24 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:13 pm

I have 18 years in IT. It seems like most of my college friends job hopped a bunch in their first decade out of school, and have stabilized since then. Probably a combination of reaching a desired salary level, and a lifestyle choice now that most are married with kids.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by BW1985 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:17 pm

Makes me think of those 'what are solid college majors?' threads. I would put software eng. near the top after reading this.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Dutch » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:18 pm

Job-hopping is the best way to get ahead in pretty much every industry I can think of.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:30 pm

BW1985 wrote:Makes me think of those 'what are solid college majors?' threads. I would put software eng. near the top after reading this.
My son declared his major as CS recently. Mostly I'm pleased because he loves the field, but a part of me is also happy that he will probably do well financially.

I should mention that I did little job hopping but made pretty good money while being technical (ranging from 200-400+). My wife began in networks and security, did some software development, but the big money arrived for her in technical management. There is a place for someone who can talk to clients, understands budgets, can manage a large organization, but still knows when a developer is talking out of his hat. My wife did not hop around.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by Morik » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:39 pm

greg24 wrote:
Morik wrote:
daave wrote:
deuceplus wrote:Where are you working that you are making that much
Without disclosing my employer here, since this could get personally identifiable awfully quickly, I'll just say that I know people at:
Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox; all of whom make salaries in that range.

Also note that this is in the NYC area, so perhaps pay is generally higher here than in Boston?
I work for a company similar to (or in) the list above. I work in Boston. I have been in the industry ~9 years and am close to (but not yet) a senior software engineer.

I was getting maybe $80k total cash comp when I started out of college, and am now around $300k total cash comp.
You're not yet a senior engineer, yet making $300k? Congrats.
As I said, very close to senior. And (very slightly) less than half of that is base salary--a huge chunk is from stock (which I always sell immediately upon vesting). And I only hit 300k this year, was more like 260 last year, and 200-220 the year before. (And could be huge swings with stock grants & prices)

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by harrychan » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:04 pm

yosef wrote:
daave wrote:I will offer proof by example that it's possible to 'get ahead' financially without job-hopping.

I've been in my current job for ~3.5 years, at a well-known tech mega-corp, in their NYC office. It's my first job out of college. My job title when I started was 'Software Engineer' and now its 'Senior Software Engineer', but I still do the same thing (not being pushed into management or anything like that).

Code: Select all

Year / Salary / Total Comp (including salary, bonus, and vested stock at mkt price)

2012  / $100K / $120K
2013  / $115K / $170K
2014  / $130K / $200K
2015  / $150K / $240K
2016* / $165K / $250K
*2016 based on current base salary (changed mid-year this year), and all RSUs vesting next year, current market value minus 5%.

So, it is possible to double your total compensation in 3 years without jumping ship, by just focusing on producing high-quality work, showing technical leadership in your organization, and prioritizing high-impact projects.
Congrats, though my experience is that your situation is the exception, not the rule.
Exactly... I don't know of a company that would have a salary range of $100k - $165k for the same position...And with that said, you were actually underpaid for NYC for the first two years in my view.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by daave » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:15 pm

harrychan wrote:Exactly... I don't know of a company that would have a salary range of $100k - $165k for the same position...And with that said, you were actually underpaid for NYC for the first two years in my view.
There was a title change (adding the prefix 'Senior') between those two salaries, but in practice, yes, it is the same position.

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by surfer1 » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:59 pm

daave wrote: 2012 / $100K / $120K
2013 / $115K / $170K
2014 / $130K / $200K
2015 / $150K / $240K
2016* / $165K / $250K[/code]
I was going to guess that you must be with a wall street firm to get a salary that high in NYC. I've been peeking around at roles in the NJ/NYC area and am seeing ranges of 100k - 140k (for software developer / architect / etc), but nothing like 200+. Are you guys at financial companies or what?

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by daave » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:38 pm

surfer1 wrote:I was going to guess that you must be with a wall street firm to get a salary that high in NYC. I've been peeking around at roles in the NJ/NYC area and am seeing ranges of 100k - 140k (for software developer / architect / etc), but nothing like 200+. Are you guys at financial companies or what?
Nope, tech company, not at all in the finance space.

Earlier this week one of my colleagues told me he's leaving soon to take a job in finance because the pay there is so much better, he's the same level as me at the company we're at now :shock:

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Re: Tech jobs - is job-hopping the best way to get ahead?

Post by DonCamillo » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:42 pm

BW1985 wrote:Makes me think of those 'what are solid college majors?' threads. I would put software eng. near the top after reading this.
I am a professor of Computer Science. Almost all of our CS graduates have jobs before graduation, and the average salary is over $60,000, but less than 10% are stars. Many of the stars will do very well in their careers. The others will be making about $100,000 a year (in today's dollars) in ten years based on surveys of our graduates from 10 years ago.

The right major helps, but the real value is the right skills, motivation, attitude, energy and interest in code.

I should also mention that Computer Science is a challenging major. We have several other technical computer related majors, mostly less challenging than CS. Less than half of our students can qualify as a CS major. The others enroll in less challenging computer related majors because they could not get into CS or because they could not keep up in CS courses or because their interest is not in software development.

I always liked the saying;
It is not your aptitude, but your attitude, that determines your altitude.
Les vieillards aiment à donner de bons préceptes, pour se consoler de n'être plus en état de donner de mauvais exemples. | (François, duc de La Rochefoucauld, maxim 93)

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