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It’s official, I’m a job hopper…

I think time has come for me to confess for myself that I have become a job hopper. No kidding, I hardly have 4 years of experience actually working for companies and this is already my 4th workplace. Yikes! My average time spent at a company is not even a whole year! The longest time I have spent working for a company is only one year and six months. Now it seems very little time, but when you do the same thing every day for more than a year, it seems like an eternity…

I didn’t realize I have became a job hopper until my recent interview at Uniqa Raiffeisen Software Service, when the interviewer has asked me why do I change my workplaces so often. And I very easily explained why I have left Espressoft, why I have left Wolters Kluwer Financial Services and why I was going to leave Colt Technology Services as well after working for them only 9 months. The interviewer seemed to be satisfied with my answer, but this question has pulled the alarm in me. Most of my programmer friends are more loyal than me, working for around 7 years or even more for a single company, usually their first employer. Even the younger ones with similar experience as me are currently on their first workplaces. I’m already on my 4th…

When changing workplaces I always promise myself that I am going to stay at the new company for at least 2 years. In the beginning this actually seems doable, since I am still in the phase of getting familiar with the project(s) and technologies used, so it’s quite exiting and interesting. Unfortunately after a few months when there is nothing more to learn or discover on the given project, everything becomes boring. When I get to the point where I already am familiar with the whole project and I know how to implement knew features or modify the existing ones without the need to think about it very much beforehand, writing or modifying code becomes a pain in my backend. I just feel something very similar to laziness. I usually know that I only have to create a few functions and my work is done, but I just become utterly lazy to write those basic functions. And after working like this for months, I start to feel that I have hit a plateau and that I am not learning anything new. After that, some sort of fear kicks in that I am not developing as fast as I should or as my programmer friends do. Moreover, the people from the recruiter companies are not sleeping, I usually get an offer from another company every week if not more often. Cluj is the best place nowadays from this point of view, there are new office buildings built one after the other and newer and newer companies open an office in the city looking for developers. And when you already have the feeling that your current job is boring and you get an offer from a company that has a lot more benefits compared to your current one, you just feel ready to go.

Because currently there is a shortage in developers in Cluj and Romania, companies tend not to care about your background as much as they should. That is probably why I can get hired with 4 years of experience and a CV that is already longer than my dad’s. Actually in Sibiu while working for the Colt Technology Services I had a colleague who couldn’t even type properly and I still wonder if he did any programming beforehand. But he was hired as a senior frontend developer… I think nobody cared what he knew, since we did pair programming and some of us did his job as well, he just had to sit there with us and focus on growing his own hair. In the beginning I was quite angry about the fact that I had to work with him, but then I realized that it was not my problem, it was the company’s problem if he didn’t deliver as expected. I sometimes think that some companies simply hire people to complete the recruiting process of a new team. The recruitment of the team in Sibiu took 9 months and I’m pretty sure that the managers in London put a lot of pressure on the local managers in Sibiu to put the new team together. And they did… they have recruited the number of programmers the managers from London have ordered. Programmers, except for one, who could hardly type and had no idea what a variable is. I actually was hired as a senior Java/Ruby developer with absolutely no experience in Ruby and with 2 years of experience in Java. With 4 years of experience I am now around the mid-level, but not even close to being a senior developer… But there is a shortage and that shortage makes possible for me to get a new job after working only 9 months at my current company.

And if recruiters send me offers even if they can see that it’s just my first month at the new company, then why should I worry about being a job hopper? They actually encourage me to become one. In the near future this might become a problem, but right now… neh… I can very easily explain that my old job had no more challenges for me if I get asked why I want to leave my current company. But most interviewers don’t even ask. I actually feel that in the past 4 years I have been continuously learning, which without changing jobs that often would probably not have been possible. I have seen more projects, more architectures and more little hacks this way than if I had worked for a single company during all these years. I actually think that it had a lot of benefits for me, it had kick-started my career. I have learned that there is no company where there are no problems and there is probably no project without small hacks or where absolutely no shortcuts were taken during the development phase. Right now I think there is nothing wrong with being a job hopper. Why be loyal to a company that you hate working for and you feel that you can’t learn anything new there? It may become a problem in the future when the demand for programmers in Cluj and in Eastern Europe will drop. But until then I am pretty sure I will find the company that I will be willing to work for many-many years without even thinking about going to an interview to another company… and I’m on the good track to find the one.

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