Sign up ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

I was just curious to see if this was recently measured. How long do people expect to stay in a new job? How long do people actually stay within an organization or in a position?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by ChrisF Dec 19 '11 at 22:01

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

What do you mean by expectations? – c_maker Feb 15 '11 at 0:38
Curious to hear how long employers expect their members to stick around on average, and what the team members themselves would consider to be "a good run". – mummey Feb 15 '11 at 1:18

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

There's so many factors that feed into employee turnover that its impossible to generalize.

Here's some examples of things that can have a huge impact:

  • Does the company provide a career path for software engineers to keep growing, learning, and increasing their salary? Or are you expected to do the same dull work, at the same pay indefinitely?
  • Is the company a fun place to work at for software engineers? Or do they burn people out quickly?
  • Is software engineering a core competency of the company? Or is everything about to be contracted out?
  • Do people enjoy the company of their coworkers? Or are there bad apples that make work hell?
  • Does the software engineer herself value stability--ie the sole breadwinner of a family-- or do they value novelty and like changing jobs-- ie someone with fewer attachments?
  • Is the compensation above average or does everyone end up leaving for better paying jobs?
  • Does the organization try to retain employees by being flexible/negotiable with individual employee needs?
  • etc

Based on any of the variables above, the average employee stay could range anywhere from 6 months to their entire career. In fact in may even be impossible to generalize within one company, different departments in the same company may have completely different cultures and completely different turnover rates. Even in that department, the individuals will have vastly different needs and interests that may make them drastically deviate from the mean.

share|improve this answer
was hoping that there were studies on the subject, but given the absence of any in the replies, this is a well-thought-out response. Thank you. – mummey Feb 15 '11 at 18:24

Really depends on the company and what they expect out of most employees. I have been at places where employees generally stick around for several decades but others where 5 years is a long time. A lot of it has to do with how much change the company is going through overall. Are they an older company that is upgrading legacy systems? Are they in an industry that is growing or shrinking? etc.

share|improve this answer

Four years max. Either you move up or you move on.

share|improve this answer
I expected 5 years would be my max, but it turned out that indeed 4 years seem to be the magic number for me. – Htbaa Mar 15 '11 at 10:29
4 years is rather arbitrary. It depends on your level. If you are more junior then 4 years might be too long, but as you get near the top of the food chain it takes longer and longer. – Dunk Mar 15 '11 at 16:02
Wow, that must be one really crappy employer... – nikie Oct 30 '11 at 18:45

Two years minimum - or you're cheapening you CV/resume.

I was discussing this very subject with my head of operations last week, we both agreed that if a permanent candidate presented a CV with one short duration job (that was not fixed term or contract or otherwise time limited) then that's OK. If there are two jobs on the resume that lasted less than a couple of years then alarm bells would ring - but given the right technical mix they would still be considered for interview.

More than two jobs of less than two years duration in the last 5-10 years would simply suggest that investing time and money in the candidate would not be worth it.

If you do have some short appointments make sure that the reasoning behind your leaving is clearly stated - anyone can be made redundant, and it is far better to state redundancy as a reason for leaving than leaving the reason unsaid. If you are more suited to short jobs then perhaps a freelance/contract role is a better fit.

Simply put, if you want the trappings of a permanent role then you have to accept that it is for the long-term and may not always feel like the best option in the short-term.

share|improve this answer
OTOH, depending on your aspirations, short-term stays will increase your salary quite dramatically much more quickly than staying at the same company. And especially if you specialize, then that wide array of experience at different companies is a big plus to some companies. I've seen the short-term stay resume candidate to be more impressive to managers for manager positions than for software positions, but for whatever reason managers like to hire these people. Then they are shocked when they leave a short time later. – Dunk Mar 15 '11 at 16:08
@Dunk - liked the twist in the tail of your comment! – amelvin Mar 19 '11 at 20:29
On the other side, they can see it as not willing to advance/not staying fresh, if they were at a company for a significantly long time. – Rick Ratayczak Mar 24 '13 at 11:04

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