IT Pros Make Job-Hopping A Way Of Life - InformationWeek

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3/25/2015
04:06 PM
David Wagner
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IT Pros Make Job-Hopping A Way Of Life

IT pros are always looking for the next job (actively or passively). Why can't anyone sit still?

10 Sweet Job Perks In Tech
10 Sweet Job Perks In Tech
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

What is going on in IT? You guys don't seem to want to stay where you are.

A quarter of the 240 IT pros surveyed by CareerBuilder are actively looking for a new job, even though they are already employed. Over 80% of the 1,300 IT pros surveyed by TEKsystems are open to hearing about a new job, even as they say they are happy with their current jobs. On average, according to CareerBuilder, IT pros said they receive 32 job solicitations per week, and a full 77% said they are responding to those solicitations by submitting 10 or more resumes every week.

It is the world's biggest game of musical chairs.

On one level it makes total sense. While unemployment has been low in IT, wages have not risen as much as you'd expect given the tighter job market. It seems practical and sensible that you're looking to regain multiple years' worth of stagnant wages, and possibly lost savings from unemployment, in the wake of the financial crisis.

[ How do your IT skills stack up against the ones with the greatest market demand? Read 15 Hot Skill Sets For IT Pros In 2015. ]

Money alone isn't the cause of the endless job-searching. The reasons change depending on whether or not a person is actively dissatisfied with his or her job. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 18% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their jobs. Of this group, 58% said they were actively looking for a job. For two thirds of these "dissatisfied" respondents (66%), salary was cited as a main reason for leaving; 65% also said they were looking for a new position because they didn't feel valued by their current employer.

Among the CareerBuilder survey respondents who were not dissatisfied with their jobs, the reasons for hunting are different. Here are the top three factors that respondents who don't hate their jobs listed as reasons for seeking new IT employment (multiple responses allowed):

  • job stability (69%)
  • location (64%)
  • good culture (60%)

The survey results lead me to conclude that a salary never looks worth it when you are unhappy at work. The results also show that the things that make us happy in a job aren't actually money related. Salary is fourth on the list of reasons that happy people choose to stay in their jobs, after factors such as liking co-workers, work/life balance, and benefits.

So why are so many happy IT people job-hopping?

(Image: Joao Perdigao via Flickr)

(Image: Joao Perdigao via Flickr)

I'm starting to wonder if the reason isn't "because that's what we do" or "because we can." Or maybe it is that "the grass is always greener." Those stats about being bombarded by solicitations (though I'm inclined to think people are exaggerating a bit for the survey) show a lifestyle of constant demand. The IT talent gap means that the best of you (and some of the worst of you) are constantly being peppered with an opportunity to change.

The stigma of job-hopping is starting to recede, too. A survey of 324 workers conducted by Accountemps shows that views about job-hopping vary by age. When asked the question, "Is job hopping losing its stigma?" 57% of survey respondents aged 18 to 35 said yes, 38% of 35- to 54-year-olds agreed, and only 22% of Baby Boomers said yes. Basically, employee loyalty seems to be age-related.

Could it be we're sometimes leaving a good thing to see what the next thing has in store for us, because we know we can always try something else if it doesn't work out? Or is it that there is so much temptation out there that we're all like a bunch of dieters walking through a bakery?

Job satisfaction keeps dropping. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 65% of IT workers responding said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2014; that's down from 72% who said they were satisfied in 2013. It seems we're less happy with the next chair we jump into than we were with the one before it. If we're not careful, we're going to find we're stuck in the most uncomfortable chair at the party.

What do you think? Are you actively looking for a job this year? If so, why? Is job-hopping regularly OK? Are you inundated with solicitations and potential other jobs? How many of them are you applying to? What makes you happy with a job and could you find one to make you happy enough to stop looking at alternatives? Comment below.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/27/2015 | 10:23:55 AM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.
That's a loaded question, Dave. Depends on definition of "cutting edge". Am I going to be working on Hadoop and Big Data? Not likely. But this morning I'm working on developing a Sencha Touch app which will run on iPad Mini with a bar code scanner from Infinity Peripherals which plugs into the iPad connector. My app will talk to our IBM i5 business server to allow scanning of tool parts to put them away in location in our Tool Room and to take them out when we pull them to put in our new Forming machines on the floor.

This is a brand new line of business for us. Being the only developer here, I make all the calls how to integrate the support into our current system and then execute it. Above is a small side project of the overall effort.

In 2007, I was the pioneer to implement Sharepoint in our global company in our local business unit. Now, Sharepoint was certainly not cutting edge in 2007 but was to this company. I had the freedom to design our intranet site, integrate application with our i5 server, and implement it all. It was so successful Corp enlisted my help implementing and supporting one for everyone.

With i5 being a character based (green screen) user interface, I've been experimenting with technologies since web/GUI was invented in the 90's to serve i5 data to browser apps. I hated almost every solution until a few years ago when I fell in love with Sencha Ext JS. I've now written many dashboards and several full blown CRUD apps. My plan over my last 10 years of my career is to convert the "ERP" system I wrote here, which is green screen, to Ext JS.

Some explanation here, I'm not recommending writing your own ERP is a good idea. We were running Infor's BPCS ERP with my custom programs filling gaps and enhancing functionality, particularly on shop floor and lab testing. When our current global company was split off from our previous company, our genius Corp IT leader signed a new contract with Infor which cut off all rights to source code. And did this knowing he had paid $100K for a contractor to add a Metals Management modification used by all biz units using BPCS. His logic was there was some master plan in place to move every business unit to MS AX Dynamics ERP. Like many ERP plans, that failed miserably after first couple of business units tried it and plan is gone.

So unable to ever upgrade and move our customizations locally, I took 6 months in 2010 (while still supporting operations) and worked 60-70 hour weeks writing all the functionalilty we used in BPCS beside the General Ledger function. That BPCS module had no source code modifications and had a clean interface from other systems, you could drop transactions you wanted posted in a file and BPCS would post. So I wrote things that no one has probably written in 20-30 years: Inventory Control, Purchasing, Sales Order Processing, A/R, A/P, Shop Floor Control, MPS/MRP, etc. I went ahead and integrated all my custom programs to enhance BPCS and created my own ERP system. About 900-1100 RPGLE programs form the system, plus I have a green screen "portal" system I had written years ago to control the use and security of the system.

So my final goal before I retire in 10 years is to port the entire thing to Ext JS, using CNX Corporation's Valence system on the i5 side. CNX developed a fantastic portal which handles integrated security with i5 and all the session control from browser. It is not hackable, uses the i5 native HTTP Apache server making AJAX CGI calls from Sencha's Ext JS on client browsers, assuming you don't make stupid mistake configuring Apache. Valence includes the support for iText, an open source tool, to directly create PDF documents from RPG on i5 and deliver to clients. I took time to learn and use that.

If I accomplish this, I plan on working with CNX to put the code out there as free open source for any other i5 shop to use for a template for their custome system. I'm so sick of the way ERP companies operate now, withholding source code so their people can bill for customization work that people like myself have historically done. And that on top of endless maintenance fees for nothing, they rarely ever add anything actual useful to your company but want to keep collecting. And they time bomb their software so you can't even move the system you already paid for to new hardware, which you have to do from time to time. It's a disgusting business model now, didn't always used to be that way.

Anyway, I'll leave it to you to decide how much of this qualifies as "cutting edge". But like I said before, never boring around here.  :-)
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/26/2015 | 6:46:52 PM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.
@TerryB- I tis nice to see someone happy. thanks for the advice to folks. One counter question, though. Some IT folks think that they only way to work ont he really cutting edge stuff is to be at the biggest companies. Do you feel that way?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/26/2015 | 6:34:24 PM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.
@Technocrati- Everything you say makes sense, but one question for you-- does changing the "powers that be" change the problems? Or do you see the same problems no matter where you work?
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
3/26/2015 | 4:00:07 PM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.
I think satisfaction overall has the biggest part when it comes to deciding whether to jump ship for some greener pastures somewhere else.  I think any time that you work for a department that is viewed as a cost centre (not just IT, talk to marketing folks, we are huge advocates for changing companies due to a lot of the same reasons), it's easy to get stuck in a role where you feel the value you provide to the organization is constantly under scrutiny, shrinking budgets and honestly, as mentioned, because they are tired of beating their heads against the wall to drive change.  No one wants to work for an organization where they don't feel they have any value, it's much easier to get up in the morning when you feel like a valuable part of the organization.

Culture is a huge factor, as is knowing that you have room to grow with the company.  In many cases, it's not so much the size of the company, but how flat it is overall.  Lots of room to move around, try out new roles, and especially if you have the right support in place to help employees plan for their next stage of career evolution or increase in responsibilities are great things to have at an organization, but sadly not a lot of organizations really take the time to support their employees, and as a result, turnover is going to be high.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
3/26/2015 | 3:39:04 PM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.

@TerryB    Thanks for your advice and insight.   One of the things I enjoy most about IW is our community of peers.    I am happy things are working out for you and I am sure they will eventually work out for me as well.  

I am acting on your advice, it is time to go smaller and/or do my own consulting.  I would really rather be my own boss at this point, but as you know, one usually gets an offer before that client base can be built, so we'll see what happens.  

On a positive note, my experience and background appears to be very popular so I am collecting options as we speak.    

It will be interesting to see where I go next, the unknown is certainly scary but also exciting and invigorating. 

jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
3/26/2015 | 1:55:05 PM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.
Thanks for that balanced perspective TerryB. I've been with a small company for the past 16 years. It's a non-profit on top of that. We have a great culture. We have excellent leadership and a lot of folks with a long tenure. Salary isn't everything. The right people doing great word is huge.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/26/2015 | 1:28:14 PM
Re: The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.
@technocrati, I think it depends on the size of the company more than anything else. Although I've spent my career at manufacturers, except for a 3 year stint working for consulting company, with 40-100 not shop floor people, I could see it would be hard to feel loyality to a large company. The customers we deal with at large orgs (like P&G) are so ate up with bureaucracy it is crazy. And I have a relative who works at Microsoft, I can't even imagine doing that. But at small company with flat mgmt structure, where you talk sports with top guy everyday, it's pretty easy to feel ownership in the business. And a large part of that satisfaction is the wide range of duties you do in IT, it's never boring. And no politics.

I've been working since 1986. First company got bought by a Texas company (a really stupid political one) in 1997, I moved on to consulting company even though they wanted me to stay with them. Consulting company went belly up after Y2K ERP work was done, I did my own consulting thing for a year with some of clients I had from them. I then took permanent IT job where I'm at now and pretty sure I'll finish my career here, about 10 years left. I've seen a few job hoppers in my time, I think U2 wrote the song "Still haven't found what I'm looking for" about them.  :-)

Anyway, try a small company next time, I think you will find it a lot more satisfying.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
3/25/2015 | 10:53:42 PM
The Tech Perspective: I am ( and You Should Be ) Going, Going ....Gone.

Really interesting questions as usual Dave.    Working as an engineer for the past decade plus, I can totally relate to this need to move on.   When I was green, I wanted to stay with my company for as long as I could but business has changed that view entirely.

There are a number of factors but for me - I can't really only stomach about 4 yrs of beating my head against the powers that be.   They have no intention of doing anything that might cost them an extra dollar while piling on more work and less compensation and thinking you should be "happy" about it.

It does not matter what you do or have done - if you are not a part to the clique then you are going nowhere.  It takes time to figure this out - because execs will smile in face and then replace you with the next "wide-eyed fool".  

So now that 4 year window has been reduced to 2yrs, and it is funny - I am currently looking for another gig - and as I do - I am already looking for the next gig.

 

There is no loyalty in business today - so I am being proactive in the best sense.

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