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I've been in my company's IT department (the company is in transportation, US based) as a software developer for three years now, but my manager approached me recently about a job opening on the business side which deals with customers more, but requires a domain knowledge that I possess from being on my current team. I expect that I'll be moving out of the company in the next few years and seeking a different job at a different company.

Note: The new position does have some IT aspects, but ultimately would be seen as not IT from a high level.

I want to continue to pursue software development long term, but will switching out of IT for a couple of years into business management hurt my chances in future companies?

  • Quite possible. If you aren't able to keep up on changes and new trends, etc. But why would you consider this change if you think you are leaving the company anyway? – user41891 Oct 18 '18 at 19:30
  • @SiXandSeven8ths the pay is considerably more, with a better bonus. It would be considered two bands higher than I am now. – curt1893 Oct 18 '18 at 19:41
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I did this and advise against it.

In general companies are usually mostly interested in what you've done in the last 2-3 years, anything more than that is nice but not overly impressive.

If you haven't done anything relevant in the last 2-3 years you can expect a difficult time getting back in.

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  • In my personal case, I'm working on a Master's of CS during this 2-3 year period, so I'll still have some programming/software development recent experience. – curt1893 Oct 19 '18 at 2:56
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will switching out of IT for a couple of years into business management hurt my chances in future companies?

I don't think so. I had the same experience, i was a software developer and i switched to managing the business side of the software, meeting clients, etc. I don't like doing the same thing over and over again so this was a good experience and a good addition to the CV. Employers will see this as a motivation to learn and gain more skills in your IT domain. You will code less indeed but i think the question you should ask yourself is if you want to do it.

I went back to software and never was impaired by that move. It is a great skill to have and could even help if you start your own company later. I always had a few coding projects on my own, just keep yourself up to date. I don't know you but motivation and self learning are more important than coding for a longer time. You will be able to catch up very fast.

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Without knowing a lot about your situation..

In a good economy - No. I know lots of very technical people that had college majors such as accounting, communications, history, and theater (no kidding, the best BI developer I know was a theater major), and when employers are looking they look more for experience and don't care as much about the traditional resume lines such as current gig, college major, and current industry.

Especially if you accepted a non-technical job with your current company, as that will be viewed as loyalty, upwards mobility, and you are business-friendly enough to be able to interact with the rest of the company as opposed to never being able to communicate outside of IT.

In a bad economy - Maybe but probably no, as you still have the experience.

Maybe if your technical skillsets can be outdated relatively quickly and you are out of IT for a long period of time.

Good luck.

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  • True, though "several years" (how much is several? 2? 5? 7?) out of IT specifically could be awfully long time to be out of touch (especially in bad economy) - unless you spend your free time to continue honing your skills in specific IT subfield you're interested in... – Matija Nalis Oct 21 '18 at 10:55
  • Indeed, but with a three-paragraph question some generalizations have to be made, unless the asker wants to spell out the technical skillsets involved. – Jim Horn Oct 22 '18 at 15:30
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Rally depends where you are in your career. I moved in and out of IT repeatdly, moved to working just for myself, moved back to consulting. It is possible - but you better be prepared to explain yourself and better be decent.

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The thing is - will you want to move back to IT in three years time? You can't predict the future. Perhaps you will look on the new job as the best move you ever made. You obviously like the idea of it, or you would not be accepting.

While you may have some minor difficulty moving back to straight IT in three years time, I have seen plenty do it.

You say

I expect that I'll be moving out of the company in the next few years and seeking a different job at a different company.

If you are really concerned, then get your manager to agree to agree to three years in the new position and then back to IT at your current company and make your move a year or so after that.

In terms of career progression, multi-disciplinary experience is always a positive thing.

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