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First, some background:

  1. I've been in my current position about 2.5 months
  2. The position is a software development position, but my degree is not in software development (industrial engineering). I thought I wanted to get into software development, but I find now that I'd much rather deal with the systems behind it (i.e. if I were to pick a new job today I'd be a junior Linux sysadmin or developer for a startup)
  3. While I would enjoy development, I'm really just not liking the work this company does (my company customizes clunky pre-made software for customers, whereas I'd rather build software from the ground up if in a dev position)

Basically, I feel like I've made a poor decision in my job choice and I want to change jobs. Now. However, I can definitely see this being seen as a bad thing in interviews - so my question really comes down to: How do I explain to interviewers why I want to leave this position?

  • How old are you and how long have you officially been a part of the "IT workforce" at large? – Joel Etherton Jul 25 '14 at 18:42
  • I'm 22. I've worked in IT related fields since I was 18 (computer repair/end user support for my college all 4 years). This is my first "professional" job (excluding an internship for a large railroad). – user3246152 Jul 25 '14 at 20:07
  • @JoelEtherton how do those things change the situation?? – Brandin Aug 9 '14 at 11:00
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    @Brandin: A younger developer earlier in a career is shown a lot more tolerance when switching positions at an early stage. 2.5 months at a position for someone with less than a couple of years of non-intern level experience is almost entirely negligible. Someone with 5-6 years will be looked at in a more serious light. They seem trivial on the surface, but they are very relevant to the perception OP is trying to avoid. – Joel Etherton Aug 9 '14 at 18:32
  • @JoelEtherton ok makes sense, however basically doesn't change the decision process. I mean, either way if you want to leave, you want to leave. Or if you have more experience then you're really going to stay at a crappy job?? – Brandin Aug 9 '14 at 18:38
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my question really comes down to: How do I explain to interviewers why I want to leave this position?

Be prepared when the inevitable questions come about why you want to leave after less than 3 months.

First, get completely clear in your own head why you actually want to leave and specifically what you are looking for in your next position.

In your question, you said "I thought I wanted to get into software development, but I find now that I'd much rather deal with the systems behind it ", and later you said "While I would enjoy development, I'm really just not liking the work this company does".

If you said that during an interview, I'd be confused. Do you not like software development? Or do you not like your current company? Confusing the interviewer is generally a bad thing.

If you say "you dislike their style", then you need to be very, very clear as to what you dislike about it and why, and you need to be able to say what you would like. Make sure that your preferred "style" matches what your potential new company actually does, in order to avoid another short-term job. You also want to avoid coming across as "high maintenance" - someone who needs things exactly his/her way or you quit.

It's okay to have made a decision that didn't work out as hoped. Show your next interviewer what you have learned from that decision, and how you will be sure that your next job will last longer.

  • I would say that I like both systems and software development, but I dislike the exact style of software development that my company does. – user3246152 Jul 25 '14 at 18:35
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    @user3246152 In what way don't you like it? What would have to be different for it to be better – Brandin Aug 9 '14 at 11:02
  • @Brandin, sorry for the late reply. My current company doesn't make anything new, they customize someone else's software for the end users. They may add a feature here and there, but the majority of the job is changing the flow of a program or changing how the web interface looks – user3246152 Sep 30 '14 at 22:28
  • @user3246152 so you'd prefer to redo the software from scratch? can you make a business case of this being more cost effective than customizing, i can see the appeal from building something new but you've got to see what is the most effective too – Brandin Sep 30 '14 at 22:53
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Given your response to my comment above, I'd say at this point in your career it's too soon to begin worrying about these sort of things. While companies don't like "job-hoppers" there really isn't going to be any real concern regarding "does he know what he wants".

Of course they'll want to know what prompted the decision, who wouldn't? But if you're directly honest and simply be honest and direct about it. Don't vacillate and indicate that you might like development, yadda yadda. When you choose to switch jobs and companies the decision is about you, not about them.

Tell them flat out that you misjudged your desire to write software and that you've discovered you have greater interests in the systems behind the software. They'll ask you how do you know that aren't misjudging this desire, and honesty is your friend here as well. "I'm 22, and my career is young. I can't know that, I can only think about and pursue what I know today."

Since it's so early, a change now won't impede your ability to get a different position (provided it's a very different position, mind you). Just don't make a habit of it.

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