Having a look at my LinkedIn Network, I realized there are a few ways of growing your Software Engineering Career. I am trying to keep my personal opinion out of the middle part and only get involved in the end of the article.
Working for a Single Company
There are plenty of people who only have worked for a single company. Maybe my network is a bit biased, since it contains a lot of people who not have finished their first 5 years.
Most of them stayed in the same role or added/removed a prefix from their title (e.g. Senior, Junior). A few who have worked for almost 10 years, have been promoted to a management role.
Switching Company shortly after a Promotion
Another pattern I often see: Switching companies shortly after getting promoted.
My interpretation here is that the title was following what the person was already doing for a while. When the person gets promoted, nothing changes but the leverage to go for a higher pay somewhere else.
Moving between Teams until getting promoted
This seems to be a thing in big corporations. A person switches a lot between projects until he takes over a management role for a whole team. In my networks there are a few people doing that but not yet having received their promotion. Let’s see if people get stuck while doing this.
Switching Companies every 4 to 9 months
It is often referred as “Patchwork Career”.
People with such careers have a very broad experience with a lot of industries and technologies. This behaviour seems to be not affecting promotions negatively. People in my network have interesting positions even after switching really often.
Being a Contractor
People working as contractors are a mix of all of the just mentioned patterns. I know a few people who worked across teams, across companies and even across industries. Contract terms seem to be between 3 months and 3 years.
My Opinion on jumping Ship
Sorry for saying it, there is no silver-bullet.
At least for myself I didn’t yet find one.
I am currently 3 years at my current employer (a 1400 person company) and have received a small promotion a year ago. Currently I am watching people who started together with me to move to other companies to further advance their careers.
The Benefits I see in leaving:
Easier to get a regular increase in your Paycheck:
When you are switching jobs, you have an opportunity to talk about your Paycheck. In this situations it is much easier to get the salary bump you are chasing.
When working in a single team for a while you are getting used to the way things are done. Switching companies can easily give you a refreshing view on “how things could done differently”. After a while, you have a good experience about what kind of benefits and cons some decisions might have.
Experiencing more of the industry:
Similar to the previous point, you see different industries and how things are done there. Your current big enterprise could benefit from your previous startup-experience (or the other way around).
I would really like to hear about your opinion on this topic!