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I am working for a private software development company where there is a staff of roughly 100 odd people. Recently the management changed, as in old managers left and new managers have joined the company. The CEO is new.

Since the company is not profiting as intended the new management decided on a layoff, which I personally believe the worst option a management could take, as it tarnishes the company image. That period is over now. But the remaining employees have started to move from the organization. As senior most employees leave, their expertise is a lost to the company, which I believe cannot be replaced immediately by the juniors. Its the current trend in my office now.

Even though the management keeps promising on new projects and client engagements, there seem to be very little new projects coming into the company. We as employees, are not completely aware of the profits and losses of the company.

When should I decide that its good time to look for other opportunities outside? Is it when the company size shrinks to a certain amount or is it depending on the financial stability of the company?

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    This is to broad and very opinion related. There is no one good moment to leave your company. It depends on what you want. Do you want to leave? Leave now! Do you want to stay? Then what are you afraid of? Having to look for a job while unemployed? Explain more your goal. – user180146 Jan 9 at 8:00
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    Which is a worse option for management to take, letting a few people go, or letting the business collapse leaving everyone without a job? Try to consider their perspective. If your company is losing money you have to make changes that reset that balance. Hopes and dreams dont produce funds. That being said, if the ship is sinking around you and management isn't giving you any insight into whats going on with the company, its definitely a good time to start seeking out other options. That would certainly concern me. – Josh Jan 9 at 20:53
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Whether to leave is dependent on the other options available

Every stay or go question is a comparison of various costs and benefits weighted for their relative risk or probability. Do you have equity? Would you need to move for another job? Are you an unusual presentation for a developer where you are which might make finding another job harder? All of these questions need answers.

Assuming you are a typical developer:

Do you have an offer from Google? Go immediately.

Are you stuck using Java 6 and that is your only skill? You probably want to upgrade your skillset a bit.

Are you a junior developer? You will want to start looking more quickly because it is harder to get hired as one.

When should I decide that its good time to look for other opportunities outside?

Really, why would you ever stop? Indeed sends me a daily listing of relevant developer jobs every evening after work. I read it on the train home. Start looking now, even if it is just reading the job boards for 5 minutes a day. Software is a volatile industry.

Besides the time put into it, there is no disadvantage to job hunting now. There is a big disadvantage to job hunting when you are just laid off and need to be watching your savings (if you have them) creep slowly downward.

  • All of the above. Plus the other disadvantages to job hunting whilst unemployed are that prospective employers will wonder why you haven't already got one and it reduces your ability to say "no" to crappy offers. It's also good to interview once in a while. Interviewing is a skill like any other, and the better you are, the more likely you will secure your desired role(s) - "better" comes from practice. It all starts with your CV; take an hour every few months to update and polish it, especially if you have no intention of leaving yet. – Justin Jan 9 at 9:35
  • Another point to consider is: If you get laid off, do you get a fat payout? – Peter M Jan 9 at 14:18
  • @Justin yeah, I do a monthly resume review just for that purpose. Add new tech and whatnot. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 9 at 15:46
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When should I decide that its good time to look for other opportunities outside?

That depends, at least partially, on your goals.

If your goal is to never be unemployed, then you should be seeking your next job aggressively, in hopes to leave before the next round of layoffs.

If your goal is to stay where you are as long as possible (perhaps because of the advantages of your current job, role, commute, etc), then you should be networking with an eye toward possible future jobs, and putting aside emergency funds to carry you through an unemployment period in the future.

If your goal is to maximize your income, then you may need to leave soon - but it depends on your current salary, your marketability, and the overall market for your skills.

It's a complex decision.

I've been laid off twice. The first time, I got the sense on an impending layoff, had a young family that depended solely on me for family income, and so I was already actively looking when I got laid off. I had my next job within 2 weeks - well before my severance pay ran out.

The second time was a bit different. It was a startup company that had recently had a rapid growth phase and had gone public. The stock started to tank and the company had a big layoff. I was spared. But it was reasonably clear to me that if I could stick around long enough, the company would be acquired by the biggest competitor in the field. That company was a very desirable employer on the opposite coast and was known to pay relocation expenses. I felt that it was a worthwhile gamble. I lasted through four additional rounds of layoffs, but was let go in the final round. Oh well.

Decide what your preferred outcome would be before you act.

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    I think your second story hints at an important point: sometimes, a company with layoffs or high turnover can be a huge opportunity, if you're able to "survive." People who make it through such phases are often promoted or at least highly regarded because they're one of the few people left with much historical knowledge. – dwizum Jan 9 at 18:35
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When should I decide that its good time to look for other opportunities outside?

You are a knowledge worker. If you want a long career as a knowledge worker you must always be learning. If you're learning a lot in the present situation that's a reason to stay.

Evaluate the personal growth opportunity that opens up when senior people leave. Can you step up and help fill the gaps in the senior ranks? If so, that's a reason to stay.

Evaluate your loyalty to your company, executives, and supervisor and their loyalty to you. Have they asked you personally to help them get through the present transition? Have they helped you understand the part you, personally, play in the future of the company? Or are you just one of the people they didn't lay off, yet? Loyalty is a big reason to stay.

Evaluate your personal comfort with the current situation. Are they making you work longer hours because they laid off too many people and the work still needs to get done? Are the new executives running around threatening to lay people off unless blah blah blah? Personal comfort is a reason to stay.

If you stay, be personally clear on the reasons you stay. If you

  • are not learning,
  • have no opportunity to grow in your job responsibilities,
  • don't have a sense of mutual loyalty,
  • and feel threatened by the situation ....

Go.

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