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I know someone who has a bad habit of getting frustrated working for a company after about a year. She's never had any issues finding a different company/new job in the 5 years/5 jobs that I've known her. I remember hearing advice from olden folk warning me that I should keep a job for X number of years or else companies will view me as a "flake" and it'll be impossible to get hired. "They want to see long term dedication!"

Does this viewpoint still hold true, or has the workplace mentality changed? Are companies more open to the idea of hiring someone, knowing that they may very well follow their own pattern of leaving after a year?

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  • Could you give some sort of idea of your location and industry? There's a big difference between working a service job in your local fast food joint in Hicksville, Nowhere County and being a lawyer at a big law firm in NYC. Mar 16, 2017 at 23:08
  • USA. The industry is software engineering Mar 16, 2017 at 23:09

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As long as a person can get another job, it's not too short of a time.

But generally, companies want a person to work at least 2-3 years so they can get back their investment, since it can take 6 months or more to get a developer up to full speed on the company's software and processes.

At some point, it will become harder to find the next job, because the company will see the pattern of not staying, and know she probably won't stay with them either. So for the friend, I'd highly recommend she not quit a job before she has another. And if she stays at the current job for 4-5 years, it wipes out the shorter jobs before it: the most current job is the one that counts the most. If the most current job is longer term, the previous short term jobs don't matter as much.

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Even within the software industry, your mileage may vary. There can be plenty of jobs where the company isn't too bothered about long term staff, for various reasons (sometimes, a staff member staying longer than a year gets additional entitlements) - if the company is working on lots of short term project, some of the downside of staff turnover is mitigated.

However, if you've had a history of jumping around and are now trying to ensure long term employment, you're going to be applying at places that offer that security. And they will want a similar security in return.

As for your friend - hopefully she is lining up a new job before leaving each one. She might be selective in where she applies, or might just cast a broad net to find the few employers who don't care.

Frankly, 5 jobs (as opposed to 5 contracts, for example) in 5 years as a developer is a huge red flag to me as a hiring manager - I know people do move on for advancement, but I'm looking for someone who will stick around at least 2 or 3 years (hopefully longer). But as well as the risk of the candidate short-timing their stay, job-hopping can also be an indicator that the candidate has issues working in organisations, and could cause problems within a team through their employment. Of course, anyone who could come up with decent reasons for the job-hopping can mitigate any red flags.

At the end of the day, though, even if leaving all those companies went reasonably amicably, eventually the job-hopper may well exhaust local opportunities.

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At lower levels it's sometimes not that big an issue. All else being equal employers tend to go for the more dependable solid employees who will repay their investment. But often there isn't that many candidates for lower level jobs, or they can see an opportunity to get someone cheap.

Further along in a career it can become a big issue. Higher level jobs tend to have many excellent candidates and employers filter people on much smaller criteria, and job hopping is one of the ones that stands out.

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  • In the first half of your career trajectory as a developer, moving on is how you increase your salary. It's also how you make yourself more valuable by exposing yourself to a wider range of technologies. Mar 17, 2017 at 15:04

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