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When do you know it's time to move on from your current job?

I just realized that I cannot add any new programming skills to my resume, for like 10 months. I am not sure whether this is a bad sign or not about my current job. How would you interpret this situation if you were a junior .NET developer at the age of 27?

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marked as duplicate by Anna Lear Nov 6 '11 at 4:14

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My boss once told me: "I've paid a lot of money for your education (experience is what he meant)." To which I responded: "Boss... if I wasn't learning anything here, I would have quit long ago." –  Steve Evers Oct 7 '10 at 21:14
    
thank you all guys, your messages reached the target :) –  davsan Oct 9 '10 at 15:41

9 Answers 9

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Learning something new is your responsibility and not necessarily your employer's. If your current job hasn't offered the opportunity for you to learn then you're either not looking for for them, not pushing your boundaries far enough or need a new job.

You'll need to go back (in your mind) and look at the project(s) you worked on during that period and see if there was an opportunity that you missed to push your comfort level. Could you have done something different to have changed that? If you can answer yes to either, then it's not your job, it's you. You'll need to actively look for those opportunities more carefully as the project unfolds.

If you can honestly say that there were no opportunities to grow and learn in that period, then it's time to move on.

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As much as I hate sometimes to say it/admin it, it is all about pushing your comfort level. –  Chris Oct 8 '10 at 0:39
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@Chris I like how you typed admin instead of admit. Typo or not, awesome. –  sunpech Oct 8 '10 at 2:30
    
LOL, ironically enough admin almost fits here as well as admit. Cheers, –  Chris Oct 8 '10 at 12:38

If you did not learn something new in the last 10 month, then it's a good reason to start learning today.

Don't ask the permission, do it. Now.

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4  
I won't -1, because I think this is correct in spirit. However, this is dangerous if taken out of context. Choosing technologies at work because you don't know them/want to learn is usually the start of a dailywtf story. –  Steve Evers Oct 7 '10 at 21:11
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YesnI think being cv driven is very bad too. However not improving your knowledge at all is worse. Dont' you think ? –  user2567 Oct 7 '10 at 21:39
    
100% Agreed. I think the difference between choosing technologies to prop up a cv or to 'stay current' at home vs. at work needs to be mentioned, as some others have said. –  Steve Evers Oct 7 '10 at 22:14
    
Don't even mention it... I'm still paying the price of few developers that decided to learn new things... What a mess I need to clean now... –  user2567 Oct 8 '10 at 6:15

If you're not learning anything new in your current job, then you need to do something on the side, outside of your job. In fact, if you're not already doing this, maybe programming isn't the best career for you? All the best devs, in my experience, have their own little projects they work on in their spare time, if only for the sake of keeping closer to the leading edge of the profession.

And don't restrict yourself to learning skills "related" to ones you already have.

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At work there are always constraints to deal with -- deadlines to meet, bugs to fix, existing customers to support, etc. If you feel like you're not learning on the job anymore, you can always learn at home. Every job will eventually stop teaching you stuff because you will hit a certain level of competency in its domain and then it's up to you to take the reins and keep going.

I wouldn't say that not learning at work is a sure sign that it's time to quit, but it could be one of the factors. If you're already thinking of leaving, it could add to your list of reasons. But I don't know if I'd leave based on that alone if all other things about the job were good.

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How certain are you of learning nothing new in the past 10 months? What tools and methodology do you use? This is just a question as I think I've always seen something new each year in my working life and I've worked for nearly 13 years. While some of those years I used the same tools for years there were other things to pick up. How well do I test this code? How well do I get the requirements before I start coding up something? There are a dozen of these kinds of questions to ask about seeing what skills are being honed.

While sometimes one can be stuck with a methodology and software for a few years, there are other things to consider in developing one's skills. I remember spending 20 months customizing a content management system to take an example. Within that project there were probably 5 or 6 skills that I can see where I'm better now than a I was at the start of the project, e.g. jQuery, XSLT, design patterns, IE 6 compatibility, and cross browser testing.

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There is a good reason why the majority of the post to this question is "do something in your spare time". The unfortunate thing is that you don't expand your skills by taking a specific job. Given the length of many projects, the constraints you have to work with, and the simple fact that most workplaces don't like a lot of change, yields low learning environment for a lot of devs.

Companies will see it as your responsibility as well. For example, if you want to be marketable and learn silverlight, don't expect your current company to start their next project in silverlight so you can learn it. It's a hard lesson I learn myself mid-way through my career.

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If you're not learning anything new, you're not trying hard enough. If you have nothing to do for the next 10 months, then go learn a new language or something.

But if you feel you're just going to be doing the same thing the same way for the next 10 months, you're not behaving like a good programmer. Have an aversion to repetition. Take the current project to a higher-level. You will find something to put on your resume on how you solve problems and improved a project instead of just listing '10 months of experience in Computer Language YYZ'.

If it were up to you, what would you be doing?

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Most of the learning happens out of the Job. If you are waiting to learn everything on the Job then there is serious trouble. Also a job should provide enough oppurtunities for you to GROW(learning/role/financially), if it doesn't you should just move out. Remember your Employer wont mind you showing the way out if you are not good enough for your experience.

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There's no need to be hasty and quit right away. There are lots of activities you can do outside of work to enhance your resume:

  • Get certified in something. E.g., EHR or HIT if you work in health care.
  • Volunteer your IT services to a good cause: church, charity, school, etc.
  • Volunteer to teach a workshop in IT at a school. Or do a lecture series on IT at a community center or library.
  • Take a class or a course at a community college
  • If you're more ambitious, go to night school and earn an MBA (if you don't already have one).
  • Take an actuarial exam, especially if you work in a financial field.
  • Start moonlighting as a consultant.
  • Contribute to a F/OSS project.
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