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One year ago I got my first job in IT (in some area A), and so far everything is going well. However, after graduating university, I wanted to work in a different area (let's call it area B), but I accepted this job offer because I didn't want to risk and keep looking for something different. I couldn't afford spending several months searching for a job that I'd really like. I'm still very interested in area B, and I want to start looking for a job there, but I see some potential issues:

  1. I've worked for my current company for only one year, and it's my first job in IT, so applying for a new job now might make me look like a job hopper. On the other hand, areas A and B are quite different (e.g. like QA and web design), so working for too long in area A reduces my chances to find something in area B. What, based on your experience/observations, would be the right moment to start looking for a new job instead of the job that was taken just for money and experience?
  2. Is it ok to honestly say during a job interview that I want to quit my current job because I always wanted to do B and have never been really interested in A? Or should I make up a better reason?

P.S. I'm living in the EU, if it matters.

  • Welcome to The Workplace! What are areas A and B that you are interested in? I feel like the answer is very much dependent on the specific areas you're referring to. – jcmack Jan 20 at 15:03
  • @jcmack I didn't specify the areas, because my colleagues might see this question, and I don't want them to know that I want to leave. – alphahydrae Jan 20 at 15:35
  • Hmm .. what about contractors? They only work somewhere for weeks or months, they often work at 10 places in a year. For that very reason, they are the best programmers to hire: They have the computer science skills to instantly excel in any milieu. – Fattie Jan 20 at 16:24
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    @Fattie Contractors are generally not hired as individuals but through a vehicle such as a staffing company or their own company - So while the assignments may vary, the employment does not. – Peter M Jan 20 at 22:25
  • @PeterM - it's extremely common for contractors to work directly (as well as through an agency as you describe). But sure, good point. – Fattie Jan 20 at 23:45
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The unfortunate truth of software development is that moving around is sometimes a necessity. Staying with the same tech stack for a long time can be disadvantageous.

Personally, as a general rule of thumb, I "omit the negative" in an interview. Don't speak in negatives, about the old job, about people, about anything really. You should always be looking forward and appear to have goals.

Something like: "I've always wanted to do B. It's fascinating that some example of you knowing about it through personal exploration. That sort of thing really moves me."

Something like this. In short, enthusiasm. It would be naive to assume anyone's first job is their IDEAL job. But people eventually move toward their ideal. So best not talk about the steps before and talk about the steps ahead.

If I were you, I would switch and then stay at the new job for at least 2-3 years... (closer to three) and that should brake any hint of job hopping.

2

To try to answer your specific concerns:

Basically the news is all good.

"One year ago ..

So, it is basically the norm to leave your first job after a year, assuming you're good. A year is forever in software. This is a non-issue.

Some more on that ..

Looking at the comments below. It would appear that amazingly ...

enter image description here

... the median tenure even at Apple is less than two years. Whoa!

(That would seem to be for all programmers, not just "newbies"; your first job is even shorter.)

This random statistic from the internet emphasizes that it's a non-issue if you have "only" stayed a complete year.

"different area ..

In software, every time you sit down to work, it's a different area. The very definition of being a skilled programmer is that you can instantly pick up and excel in any field.

I urge you to immediately get away from "A" to ANY field .. whether B, C or D or E.

Do not hesitate to take a contract with less $ if it gets you out of the "A" type-casting.

You don't want to be this guy: 1

enter image description here

"What would be the right moment to start looking...

Sunday night.

"I couldn't afford spending several months searching..

With this point, you definitely face a serious problem, which you must fix if you have not already.

You can only get programming jobs from a position of strength.

To work in the dynamic, high-pay, high-risk field of software you MUST have a couple months reserve money on hand so that at any moment you can walk, and then leisurely look for your next contract.

If you have not achieved this "iron reserve," 2 do that FIRST and then enact your plan.

"Is it ok to honestly say during a job interview that I want to quit my current job because I always wanted to do B and have never been really interested in A? ...

It would be remarkably naive to actually say that:

  1. It implies that you believe software is a "single field" skill. This is the one single thing you never, ever want to imply as a programmer.

  2. The fact that you want another job is a non-issue. A sports team does not have to explain "why they want to win"; you don't have to explain "why you want to advance your career."

  3. In general NEVER SAY ANYTHING NEGATIVE, IN ANY WAY, ABOUT ANYTHING. Your first job was "fantastic and challenging, but you're ready for the next challenge".

And note the critical point in a comment above: You'll need to have a good answer to the inevitable follow up "So why did you take a job in A?"

Fill your answer with overwhelming positives. "It was a great chance that came up straight away. Mr. Smith is super-nice and Ms. Jones is a fantastic Pascal programmer. Since high school I've been looking for challenges so I grabbed it.

For God's sake: never, ever, mention "money problems". Or indeed any problems.

To repeat it's totally OK and good to mention that you love the NEW field, but never knock the OLD field A in any way.


1 Brilliant actor Russell Johnson is often given as an example of a fantastic actor who's career was killed by being type-cast in one role.

2 Courtesy that important figure in Software, Napoleon Bonaparte.

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    I do not fully agree with this answer. Most code bases have their own, shall we say "quirks", and any developer will deliver better results when they've acquired good knowledge of the business, product and customers. This inevitably takes some time. While good developers can jump in and deliver good code quickly, they will do better after a couple of months. So changing after a year definitely comes at a loss, meaning any company is interested in people not changing often. – bytepusher Jan 20 at 16:33
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    'So, it is basically the norm to leave your first job after a year, assuming you're good.' Needs citation. I appreciate that this may represent your personal experience, but software is a big industry these days, and depending on which corner of it you are working in, this may or may not be true. If you are going to make blanket statements like this it would be helpful to back them up with data, as opposed to anecdotes. – Charles E. Grant Jan 20 at 17:51
  • Just as an example, here's a poll from HackerNews about longevity in software jobs with some of the major companies in Silicon Valley (where job hopping is arguably far more common then in other markets): Employee Tenure. This doesn't seem to be a scientific poll, but it does seem to indicate that your statement is an exaggeration. – Charles E. Grant Jan 20 at 18:01
  • ? Charles, that data could not be more supportive of the idea that "programmers turn over ridiculous quickly". the overall tenure at Uber seems to be 1.3 years! (W T F ?!?) That's not fir "first jobs" - that apparently is the company's overall average worker stay. Good grief! (Maybe I misunderstand the chart - it's hard to believe the overall tenure is that short even at the bigger companies mentioned???) – Fattie Jan 20 at 21:23
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    Don't agree that type casting aka specialising in one field is bad per se. It depends. Look at how successful Arnold Schwarzenegger and many action movie stars are. There are different ways to excel, be a generalist or be a specialist, both have their merits and can succeed. But if you stick with something for long, you better stick with something you feel enthusiastic about and are good in, so indeed, OP should just go for 'B' and checkout if that is something he wants to stick with or broaden his horizons later on further. – Frank Hopkins Jan 22 at 14:03
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You should work wherever you feel motivated for.
It not only increase your creativity and performance, but also get you a non-stressfull life.

I've worked for my current company for only one year, and it's my first job in IT, so applying for a new job now might make me look like a job hopper

One year is not a big thing, better change now than later.

Is it ok to honestly say during a job interview that I want to quit my current job because I always wanted to do B and have never been really interested in A? Or should I make up a better reason?

It a legtimate reason, but you should demonstrate during the interview that you have the skills to get the job done in area B.

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The times where you work 40 odd years at the same company,retire and bite the dust are long gone.

Work on projects, not at companies.

Be a freelancer, an employee, a contractor, be whatever is asked for you to be to get that project or job you want, whenever you feel like you want it, wherever in the world it might take you.

Don't like what you do?

Find something else you want and do that.

The result will be a CV full of experience in fields that you excell in because you loved doing them.

Experiences you mostly couldn't acquire by staying at the same company for years on end.

You're constantly challanged with new circumstances, clients, projects, colleagues and other requirements that become routine at the same company quickly.

That's not job hopping, that's taking opportunities.

It's also how the world works today.

Job hopping can still be a thing in some professions but nowadays companies like software developers or creative businesses for instance ramp up and downsize according to project needs or their immediate financial situation.

Getting a job and being after few months on the market again is not uncommon.

Even permanent contracts are far from what they used and are promoted to be.

Oh yes, more and more industries hire freelancers, not employees for obvious benefits to the company, be prepared for that reality.

On top, in todays global economy jobs don't come to you, you go where the jobs are and move on once the project is done or stick around for round two, maybe three...

A nice side effect is, provided you're good at what you do, that each time you start a new gig you can raise your salary due to more experience and you can quickly get up that ladder (read jonior,mid,senior,lead).

Even management positions are often short or mid term for diverse reasons.

Another side effect is that you never have to answer or fear JOB HOPPING questions.
Your contract only ever was for a SET AMOUNT OF TIME from the get go
.

Granted, this is not for everyone and arguably not a stable life to have a family, so do it while you're young and free as they say.

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