Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Have you ever reached a point at your job when you just know it's time to move on?

When do you move to the point that you're willing to let go of the demons you know for the ones you don't know?

What was your deciding factor final straw so to speak when you finally faced the decision to find a new job?

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Mark Trapp Jul 15 '11 at 19:24

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Soon-to-be-related-question:… – Job Jun 24 '11 at 14:24
The existing answers are good. The only think i'd add is about personal time: this is something that's a privilege, a bonus, not a right, something that has to be earned. When you've earned your place, you can judge where it's appropriate to take some time for yourself. But when you first start, just don't do it (and don't whine about it!). – Tom Anderson Jun 24 '11 at 14:35
Question: You say there's version control from 2005, but no source control? – George Stocker Jun 24 '11 at 19:44
Confront the boss you say? If you have made your mind up that you are leaving, confront your boss just to see what happens. I'm sure the experience will confirm that moving on is indeed the right decision. – Diego Deberdt Jun 27 '11 at 12:06
@Chad You are right about not burning any bridges. However, when I used the word "confront" I meant "have a constructive talk with your boss about what you feel it is that makes you consider leaving". The chances that you can make even a dent in the way this company works is very slim to none. – Diego Deberdt Jun 27 '11 at 13:44
up vote 60 down vote accepted

I had one job where I work up every morning wishing I was sick enough to go to the hospital so I wouldn't have to go to work.

At another job, I was working so many hours I was having trouble actually driving home at 2 or 3 am when I went home. Only job I ever quit without having another job, just physically couldn't take one more day and the final straw was when they asked me to do something unethical and illegal. Thanks to my exhaustion, I had a car accident in the parking lot the day I quit.

Other signs it's time to move on:

  • You aren't sure if your paycheck will bounce or not
  • You are part of a Death March
  • The work is boring beyond belief
  • You think someone is sabotaging you in terms of office politics - you start getting fewer responsibilities and less interesting assignments and Joe is getting the credit for the things you did and you are starting to see emails blaming you for things that someone else did.
  • You simply can't live with the corporate culture
share|improve this answer
I actually can say 'All of the above' for my previous job. I jumped ship and not a month after I left the whole dev team was let go. I'm glad I saw the writing on the wall, but at the same time the reason I stayed as long as I did was that I liked my team. I didn't want to leave them in the lurch. – Tyanna Sep 17 '10 at 19:57
you start getting fewer responsibilities and less interesting assignments - Aren't that nice? as long as payment is good though :D – Reigel Sep 22 '10 at 9:57
@Reigel, No it isn't because it's a sign they are thinking about firing you. – HLGEM Sep 22 '10 at 14:01
My personal hell is when these conditions are met and I can't afford to quit and nobody else will hire me. – Steve Evers Oct 20 '10 at 18:51
Most of these seem like the extreme case. That is, I'd definitely look for something else if I had a job like this, but even if none of these are met, it might be time to move on if you just feel like you aren't learning as much as you could, or you'd me more interested in something else, or you aren't being paid what you feel you're worth or whatever. I guess what I'm saying is it's OK to look for something better even if your job isn't hell. The big question is "Is it providing me with more happiness than misery?" – Tim Goodman Oct 20 '10 at 19:26

When you're not enjoying (most of) the work.

Only if you're very lucky will you have job that 100% enjoyable 100% of the time, but if you find that most of the job isn't enjoyable any more then you're not doing yourself or your employer any favours by sticking around.

share|improve this answer
+1 for "(most of)" because all jobs have tasks you do and will not like. – Chris Oct 20 '10 at 19:02

The final straw was when I was at the hospital with my newborn baby, who was born early and needed to be on oxygen. I was using my own vacation days to be there, I did not get time off for this sort of thing. Then I was getting called and pressured to return back to work early before using up all my vacation days while my child was still in hospital. That was the last of many straws.

share|improve this answer
+1 When they start demanding you choose between family and work, its time for them to learn that they arent going to win that struggle. – GrandmasterB Oct 20 '10 at 19:29
Ken is that you? – PSU_Kardi Oct 20 '10 at 21:05
+1: Bad employers assume they own all of your time. Hope everything worked out well for you guys. – Binary Worrier Mar 22 '11 at 13:18
+1 for considering family! Many times, discussions of employment never touch family. – Andrew Neely Aug 10 '11 at 19:27

When you would rather spend all day on StackExchange (or any other website) than actually do work.

share|improve this answer
I love my job and still do this to some extent... – Fosco Sep 17 '10 at 17:41
C'mon dude, StackExchange is way more fun than most jobs. – JBRWilkinson Oct 20 '10 at 22:19
+1. LOL. Well then, I guess I should stop working and just be a professional StackExchange poster. :) – Bobby Tables Nov 11 '10 at 21:47

When you are no longer learning or growing.

share|improve this answer
At work i haven't learned much. Programming is my biggest passion and at home i learn more than i could squeeze into 3 jobs. So maybe i should not work at all and concentrate on the fun things. :/ – LennyProgrammers Sep 17 '10 at 15:22
yeah thats the ticket! What you do everyday should be the 'fun things' - if you like programming but not ur work.... Change your environment ? – Denaem Sep 17 '10 at 17:36
You should always discuss with your boss if there is angels on your current work you would find fun. Often things can work out. – user1249 Oct 20 '10 at 18:46

It depends in what you consider a successful career. Some people see having lots of money a success in itself. Others see developing useful products as major achievements in their life.

You should first know exactly what is the things that please you most (money, building products, having lots of good friends...)

Then, try to see if your current position could lead, with time and effort, to a better situation from your point of view and your values. If not, then move on.

share|improve this answer
I guess that's the best advice. More of a balancing act of pros and cons. I notice that when you like your job the cons are quarks, but when you don't like your job the cons become more like nails in a coffin. – Tyanna Sep 17 '10 at 20:00

I have a mathematical formula that I apply in my head on about a monthly basis. I call it the pay-to-crap ratio It works thusly: does the amount of pay I receive seem to offset the amount of crap I have deal with, crap being defined as the things outside of my core job responsibilities of software architecture and development (i.e. corporate mandates, re-organizations, bungee bosses, seagull management, budget reductions, benefits changes, etc.). If I feel that the crap quantity is overpowering my pay quantity, I'll talk to my boss about increasing my pay and/or reducing the crap. If neither of those are possible: sayonara, job.

share|improve this answer
I have a little gig with my former employer that pays insane amounts of money per hour to help them out. I still find it a royal pain to work on their stuff, and keep trying to help them work without me. – Bill Leeper Jan 3 '11 at 21:33

The last full time job I left was because I became 'too valuable' to maintaining our very successful - and award winning, I might add - system that they would not assign me to the task of designing a new system. At that point I realized they werent interested in rewarding success, and didnt appreciate the notion of domain knowledge, so I jumped ship, leaving an ever more and more depressing corporate environment for a very fun dot-com.

share|improve this answer
A different aspect, when they've grown too dependent on you (as they say, the truck count reduced to 1), a time to teach them a lesson of strategic knowledge backup. – user8685 Feb 6 '11 at 0:13

At one job, I had a recurring dream that my model soldiers were going to show up and rescue me, despite their size and the fact that they were lifeless metal.

At another job, I got into trouble for following standard promotion procedure from development to test to production, as somebody else had, with management approval, hacked the production system directly without making sure to keep a backup.

Both were good signs that I needed to get out of there.

share|improve this answer
It sounds like you got the raw end of the deal there. Your options were either hold firm and point out that you followed procedure or take it on the chin and resign (citing that incident as one of/the reason for leaving). – crmpicco Jun 5 '13 at 12:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.