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When should I think about switching a company?

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Senior Software Engineer at Redfin2 years ago

What aspects/criteria should I consider when it comes to staying in a company vs switching companies vs switching teams internally? (Keeping in mind of How often is switching companies healthy?

Follow up: How hard/easy it becomes as and when we grow further in career (keeping in mind about senior roles in next company/family etc.)

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  • 1
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    Switching Companies

    • If compensation is a major issue for you (e.g. I need more money now to buy a home/raise a family/etc), you should probably switch. The fact of the matter is that companies value new hires over retaining existing employees when it comes to spending their money. You can get a promotion, but that takes a ton of effort and switching will often nets a bigger boost minus some extreme edge cases.
    • My rule of thumb is 1+ years at 1st job and 2+ years at subsequent ones. Try to not to break that by leaving too early.
    • Aside from the compensation angle, I think the main reasons for leaving are just being at the same company for quite a while (4+ years) and being within a bad environment (lack of growth, high thrash, etc) that you haven't been able to remedy, either through improving your current team or switching teams.

    Switching Teams

    • Switching teams can be really effective in large tech companies (>1000 engineers) as their size naturally comes with a lot of variance. This means that if you really dislike your current team, your chances of finding a completely different one somewhere across the company which you'll like are pretty good.
    • Adding on to that, you should switch teams instead of switching companies if:
      • You're not at that 1 to 2 year mark mentioned before
      • You like the company and its people/culture overall but are looking for a change of pace from your current team
      • You hate interviewing
      • The hiring market isn't great
      • You have already made a lot of progress towards promotion at your current company (negotiating an up-level is hard/risky)
      • Golden handcuffs
      • You want to switch stacks

    Switching And Seniority

    This is a good question, and I think it just gets weird/interesting with all the different cases:

    • If you aren't growing to senior+ in a healthy way, working as more of a commodity coder vs. a tech lead with great fundamentals, then it's difficult to switch (it could even be career suicide).
    • If you are growing to senior in a healthy way, it's easier to switch as you have more transferrable skills, which junior and mid-level engineers often lack.
    • However, being older means you generally have more responsibilities outside of work, which makes switching harder.
  • 2
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    Company quality is really important here. Getting the "FAANG glow" on your resume does unlock lots of opportunities later on, so I'd optimize for that.

    As you become more senior, I'd be more careful about switching (i.e. talk to more people, be certain you're ok with the risk), since the expectation is that you'll stay at the company longer.

Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage. The Seattle-based company was founded in 2004, and went public in August 2017.
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