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I'm just starting my fourth developer job in 7 years and at least in my area that is not too unusual. I left my past job because of the usual getting a 10% raise by jumping and only a 3% raise by staying.

Given that businesses seem to be happy to replace you with someone off the street, are you better off focusing on technical skills instead of learning how the business(s) work?

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    Welcome to this site. While your question is interesting, it is too broad, and different people have different opinions about it. Please try to focus on one particular detail - and edit the question to reflect that. You are welcome to ask more questions, each one addressing a different detail of interest. – virolino Jun 1 at 6:07
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businesses seem to be happy to replace you with someone off the street

While this is common in industries where there isn't much difficulty in acquiring the necessary domain knowledge there are some where the domain knowledge itself can be extremely valuable.

To rebut the anecdote of getting a ~10% raise moving to another job last time I moved between companies in the same industry I got a greater than 20% bump in salary (and I wasn't on peanuts before), and that was largely down to the fact that unlike the vast majority of candidates on the market with the same technical skills I had extensive experience working within the same sector. That meant I could skip the months if not years of getting up to speed on the industry.

In those scenarios they are typically more proactive in retaining employees as well - the learning curve makes recruiting newbies riskier and more expensive. An old colleague of mine got an unasked for raise of over 10% one year simply because the company was concerned about a competitor that was starting to grow and they didn't want them to come knocking at this employees door. There had been no approach and he wasn't looking to move on, the employee simply was very good at what they did and it would have taken years to get the next most knowledgeable employee up to their level of knowledge on the industry.

Are all industry domains subject to the same sort of effect? No, in many businesses the learning curve isn't that steep or is largely irrelevant because the nuts and bolts of how the industry works simply don't have a large impact on the day-to-day conduct of the role. But if you get "in" to a more specialized sector it can not only increase your salary value but can help with getting hired as well - some domains have knowledge that is all but unobtainable to those on the outside so having other employers in the sector on the CV can get you in the door.

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Given that businesses seem to be happy to replace you with someone off the street, are you better off focusing on technical skills instead of learning how the business(s) work?

IMO, understanding the business is almost always going to make you more valuable than a similarly skilled employee who doesn't. You'll have a better understanding of how your work fits into the business and it's impact on the business.

I'd much rather have someone working for me who knows what my business does and why then someone who doesn't.

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Depends on how the companies you prefer allocate rewards and whether you are building your career across or within companies.

The primary benefit of learning the domain is increased productivity. Problem is, plenty of businesses place virtually no value on productivity because it is hard to measure. Or if they do measure it, they do it in a way that makes productivity seem high but with terrible results, so the gains come from gaming the measurement rather than true understanding. Budgets are very easy to measure.

The average business would immediately notice an extra few cents in salary costs but probably would not notice a proportional drop in productivity. Plenty do not notice massive fall-offs in productivity or if they do, don't really understand what it is well enough to take concrete action on it.

I suspect that most office workers could allocate one day every two weeks to do next to no work and instead do some kind of freelancing or build out a startup. That is a 10% hit to your productivity. Most office workers could get away with this and I know many that do. I know some who allocate one day a week to this. That is theoretically a 20% hit to productivity.

Could any of those people get 10% or 20% raises? Not a chance.

So in the average business, no, simply because they don't care about productivity enough to measure it and thus they can't reward it. This is especially true if your main path for career growth is outside the company. Inside the company, it can be used to make a solid case for promotion, but the average person gets their promotion from moving.

There are certainly companies where it would be rewarded, but you would see that in high levels of retention as well as structured development programs. If a company valued domain knowledge, it would be quite evident.

This is a human thing. Customers will revolt if the price of an item increases. Cut the amount of stuff in the same package and few are the wiser.

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Given that businesses seem to be happy to replace you with someone off the street, are you better off focusing on technical skills instead of learning how the business(s) work?

That's because you are working as a programmer. Programming is a cheap skill set. It's easy, simple, unregulated and easily oversourced. No programming job is irreplaceable. Let's assume you are a UI front-end developer. Anything you do in your works like spawning a UI dialog can also be done remotely by a 18-years old in a rural village no-uni-experience simply by searching on Google.

Medical professional jobs require strong solid experience. The accounting industry has well-respected CPA strategic business advisors and decision-makers. But there's nothing in the programming industry. Everyday, more and more jobs are being outsourced to cheap India job agencies.

... focusing on technical skills ..

The problem is everybody can learn the skills online. Even a tax driver could become "technical" from a 3-days Udacity online course.

... instead of learning how the business(s) work? ...

This is wrong. Say if you are in banking, understanding how the financial market work will keep your job as something like financial analyst, far better paid than simply just programming. If you don't know anything, the banks could just easily outsource you oversea.

Everybody can write loops, but only the best qualified understand the problems. In finance, you would have to complete something like a Master In Finance.

... replace you with someone off the street ..

Sad but true. A random programmer could do the job as well as you.

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    75% of your answer history on this board have a negative score accumulation. Why do you continue to troll OPs with such bad and discouraging answers? Your claims that anyone can be a programmer are just ridiculous. And even if were true, none of your answer is actually beneficial to the OP. People are coming to this board seeking career advice. And you just dole out despair. – selbie Jun 2 at 0:12
  • @selbie Your insults are violating the rules here. It's punishable. No, this is a forum we are here to answer questions. And that's it. We're not here to make people happy or sad. Please read our FAQ if you need further assistance. OP started the question, it was his own words that I was answering. Your comment is not helpful. – SmallChess Jun 2 at 0:19
  • @selbie This is not a troll post. My answer is not discouraging. I'm here to answer with facts. You can't deny facts. It's OP's own words that "... replace you with someone off the street ... ". – SmallChess Jun 2 at 0:22
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    I don't see anywhere in my comment that qualifies as an insult. You have basically told the OP that his (your words) "skill set is cheap" and that he can be replaced by a taxi driver with 3 days of training. That's an insult back to the OP. My polite advice is to rethink your approach to giving quality answers. People are here for career advice. Just telling them that there's not much they can do because they are expandable isn't helping anyone. – selbie Jun 2 at 0:27
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    This is a horrible answer. – guest Jul 2 at 17:41

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