As the leading industry in innovation, it comes as no surprise that IT careers are themselves ever changing. As technology continues to advance and become more refined in niche sectors, professionals are bound to try their hand at different positions. Creativity and curiosity are the lifeblood of the industry, so naturally it’s been reported that IT professionals, like software engineers, who are happier at their job have better critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Job fluidity is widely accepted as a part of the industry, with IT topping every other industry in employee turnover at 13.2%, with embedded software engineers clocking in at 21.7% [ref].

Although expected, this liquid workforce has proven to be a bit of a nuisance to the IT industry as a whole, with substantial investment going into talent recruitment and retention. But with a job growth at 22%, beating out the national average of 4% [ref], there is certainly little to worry about for the growing number of software developers out there.

So, why is everyone willing to change jobs, and how do you know you’re ready for a new job? An important thing to note here is that IT professionals, particularly software professionals, are more dedicated to their projects than their company as a whole. Which is good news for tech companies, who garner more losses in employee turnover related to projects. It simply isn’t a competition. Big tech companies try their hardest to retain talent through incentivizing packages and benefits, but ultimately, migration is the nature of the industry. Tech companies are unlikely to think unfavorably about this aspect of your career.

By examining the main incentives for software engineers and other IT professionals to seek other jobs, we can get a better idea of the indicators that you too should be looking for a new position. According to a study published by the Association for Computing Machinery, there are a few key questions you should consider when evaluating your current job.

Do You See Value in Your Tasks?
This question relates to the tasks and projects you’re assigned in your daily work. In order to engage with their work fully, software engineers often need to feel aligned with the purpose and goals of their projects. Consider your work and how well it fits into a greater whole, especially one that fulfills your professional ambitions. Do you personally see value in your work? If not, it may be time to start looking for a position that can offer you more satisfaction. The quality of your work will excel in a fulfilling work environment.

Do You Consider Your Management Good?
This question applies to many jobs, but with the highly technical and collaborative nature of software engineering, it is particularly important to your success. Good management enables you to not only develop your own teamworking skills, but to do your job with the resources you need. With good management and productive feedback, you can also refine your existing skills and become a more valuable team member. This is easily transferable to other jobs you may hold in the future, but without it, your professional development may be stunted or worse, deteriorate.

Are You Satisfied with the Career Path at Your Current Company?
Your optimum career path is unique to you. Whether you’d like to become more involved in topics within your specific skillset, or you want to manage your own team, a good career path will closely align with your needs and desires. With the diverse range of positions available in the software engineering sector, there’s no need to settle for a career path that doesn’t suit you. If you don’t believe there is a possibility for upward mobility in your current company, it may be time to seek advancement elsewhere.

Are You Able to Earn the Rewards and Incentives You Desire?
A fair reward system will be based on merit and effort. Earning rewards provide a great motivation, but it’s also an important indicator of the value your current company places on you. This is similar to good management and may be a sign that you aren’t a good fit for the company. If you aren’t earning appropriate rewards now, it’s likely you won’t be earning them if you stick with the company in question. Remember, your work and performance are important and deserve recognition.

Is there a Good Balance of Variety and Challenges?
In an industry where all aspects of work are advancing at a breakneck pace, ensuring you have access to a good variety of tasks is essential to retaining your professional relevancy. Spending too much time in a position that only offers repetitive and unchallenging tasks will stunt your professional development and ultimately, demotivate you to preform at your best. You want to be in a work environment that allows you to expand your skillset and encourages you to tackle difficult tasks.

Can You Properly Participate and Engage With Colleagues?
As mentioned, this is an important aspect in your role as a software engineer. Most projects require an entire team, and so collaboration is a given. In the right work environment, you’ll be given the tools you need to communicate and engage with colleagues properly. However, this goes a bit further as it would also be facilitated by company culture and the colleagues you have. If an inability to participate is preventing you from operating at your best performance, you may no longer be in the appropriate position.

Deciding When to Leave

The decision to leave your current job will depend on many factors, including some not mentioned here. It comes down to a personal decision to choose the direction that will help you develop the most both personally and professionally. There’s no set timeline or checklist you can use, but if you’ve answered ‘no’ to some of the questions above, you should be reevaluating your current job. To give you a better idea of the industry standards, according to a survey done on over ten thousand software engineers, these professionals often stay at any given job for about two years. This is likely the best timeframe to develop your skillset, complete several projects, and get the most out of your job.

by Pooya Amini

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