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I am a developer who graduated in 2016 and am in my third job. I am currently concerned that my resume makes me look like a job hopper because I am one. But I also have no interest in being at my current company long term as I got denied for a level up and was told to try again in 6 months to a year.

I would leave tomorrow but because of the low tenure issue I am worried that I cannot attract a good offer. So for about a year, I want to continue holding the job but to transfer as much time and energy to my departure planning as possible. I have identified a wide variety of professional development opportunities for myself. But this would cut dramatically into my work time.

I can do a 30th percentile job in 2-3 hours a day. We only seem to terminate the bottom 10% so that is fine to keep my job. My issue is that I was previously a high performer who took initiative and tried new things, things I will no longer be doing. I am just wondering if anyone has done from being a top 10% performer to a bottom 25% performer and handled that transition without people getting too mad.

Doing some searching on this site, I found this question.

Star developer didn’t get a promotion because he isn’t a people person, so he has scaled back his contributions. How can I motivate him?

I am nowhere near as star as that developer, but I also want to avoid the negative reaction of my boss noticing (or at least commenting) that I am not as good as before. I have no idea what past performance capital is worth for deferring consequences for no longer performing.

Any advice?

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    Are you paid per hour? Or are you asking how to get away with only working a limited number of the hours you're obligated to work while still getting paid for the time you're doing something else?
    – Erik
    Jan 6 at 11:46
  • As I understand it, you are in the top 10% of performers at your company, yet you were denied a promotion, and being denied this promotion makes you want to leave the company. What reasons did they give for denying you a promotion? Is this the only reason you want to leave, or are there others?
    – B. Ithica
    Jan 6 at 14:08
  • Have you tried applying for another job? If you can get a better job elsewhere, doesn't that mean that the new company is not worried about you being a job hopper?
    – Llewellyn
    Jan 6 at 17:50
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I also want to avoid the negative reaction of my boss noticing (or at least commenting) that I am not as good as before. I have no idea what past performance capital is worth for deferring consequences for no longer performing.

It's going to be difficult - the relative drop in performance from the "top 10%" will make it more noticeable. The people who have consistently been in the bottom 25% will be far less visible than someone who has suddenly dropped into that category. Especially someone who was just denied a promotion, a blind man on a galloping horse will see what's going on there. Past performance capital can help through the occasional slump rightly enough - but deliberate retaliation for being denied a promotion isn't that.

If you plan on being there for the next year anyway why not just continune to perform and try again for the promotion in 6 months? There's nothing to stop you working on your professional development and departure planning on your own time.

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Let me challenge the frame of your question:

I have identified a wide variety of professional development opportunities for myself.

I was previously a high performer who took initiative and tried new things

Isn't taking initiative and trying new things a very nice professional development opportunity? You can develop at full pay, get praised and get better at the same time, instead of doing a shitty job, getting bad references, and having to "develop professionally" in an artificial, non-professional environment. If you lean back now, even if it works out for you the way you want, you will get boring standard jobs you cannot influence, and a theoretical education in other topics in your spare time. If you bring those other topics up in a company setting, they might ask you to work on it while they pay you. You will get tons of practical experience. Who knows, they might even pay for a course or two.

I'd rather employ someone with 5 years experience in something that is not exactly my companies tech stack and good references, than someone with 5 years experience, some of that in our tech stack, but apparently not for work, and no or bad references.

I think being a good employee will make you more employable than anything you could improve otherwise.

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Can you transfer teams?

You basically need to obfuscate the performance drop or find some plausible explanation for it. What comes to mind for me is transferring teams. You get a new boss who is less familiar with your performance and may not know about the denied promotion and weak performance could be blamed on trouble transitioning.

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