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I'm currently in a very stable, comfortable dev position where most of my growth as a developer is solo. My current team doesn't really discuss software development and not everyone is interested in it enough to grow as a group. Nevertheless, I love the people I work with and we have the opportunity to work on fun projects (most of the time).

Through a recruiter, I've been offered a very exciting job with a bunch of super-smart devs that love to discuss, improve, grow. However, (and the employer doesn't know this), I'm planning on leaving the area in just over a year. These plans are pretty definite, so the mentality of "Hey, anything could happen in a year," while true, doesn't feel applicable.

There are other factors to consider (a much longer commute, longer working hours, etc), but the one that is really bothering me is I don't know how I feel about starting something so life-changing, only to start making plans to leave in ~9 months. Personally, I want to feel like I'm settling into a job, not hopping around. Granted, I also can't help but consider the needs of the employer; I don't want to be the guy that stayed for just a year, forcing them to restart the hiring process.

Especially in the field of software development, I feel there's an investment made in the employee that is hired. (Training in the business domain, training in the specific practices of the organization, training in the tools, etc.) I'm the kind of developer that wants to give back on that investment -- otherwise I feel I have nothing to show for myself.

So, do you think a year is enough time to give back on that investment?

Edit: I appreciate all of the answers I've received, but I wanted to clarify that I wouldn't be leaving in 9 months, I'd be leaving in 12-13 months. 9 months was just an approximation of how long until I had to start thinking about leaving.

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It is never a good idea to misrepresent things when starting a new job. –  Oded Apr 16 '11 at 19:25
1  
You could be open about it and see if you can come on contract –  P.Brian.Mackey Apr 16 '11 at 19:40
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9 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I've upvoted the other good answers that I agreed with (in general, be honest to the prospective future employer). There are a couple other things to consider besides the investment being made by the new company.

How much time do you have with the current company? If you're within a year of becoming vested, haven't used up any vacation you have accrued, or might be getting a bonus in the remaining year, those are things to consider. Don't want to miss out on that because of poor timing (unless you just couldn't stand being in the current job, but you've already said you like it).

Also, consider if you've been fair to your current employer. Have they paid for expensive training recently or are they depending on you as a critical factor to get them through a current project? Again, if they were jerks then this might not be as important; if you're miserable then you do what you have to do to take care of yourself. But if they've made sacrifices for you and things are good, sticking around till the end wouldn't be wrong. And you'd save some paperwork :)

With regard to the potential new employer, it's not just about whether or not a year is enough time for them to get something out of you; if you do good work, then it might be fine. But is it enough time for you to get something? I think the answer is probably yes, but as another responder pointed out, whenever you go someplace new, there is always a learning curve and a context switch. So you might just be getting into a good flow when it'll be time to leave.

Either way I'm not sure there's a right or wrong answer here. It's really up to you. It would not be the first time in history someone has worked for less than a year in a job.

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All of the answers I received were exceptional, but I felt this one did a very good job outlining the various pros and cons to consider when facing a choice such as this. Hopefully the EXCELLENT advice in these answers will help someone else as much as it helped me! –  randombear Apr 19 '11 at 0:48
    
By the way, I ended up turning the job down. I requested that we (the recruiter + myself) be open with the company about my leaving, but the request was denied (basically). –  randombear Apr 19 '11 at 0:49
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@randombear Thanks, and good luck. As for recruiters, they are a dime a dozen. When one won't respect your wishes to be honest, it's because they are more worried about their commission than your career. –  Bernard Dy Apr 19 '11 at 2:11
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You should play with open cards toward that new opportunity. The worst thing that can happen is that they reject you and you have to stay 12 more month in the current position.

But if you mention you will be moving, they may offer you home-office. Or they may even open an office in the area where you're heading to, so this could be a perfect fit.

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+1 to see if there is a flaw in P.SE - and yes, there is a bug in P.SE engine - you can get double votes for the same answer. :) –  Jas Apr 16 '11 at 20:17
    
Sorry, I did not mean to try to get double votes. After clicking on submit, I was still standing at the page with editor box open when I came back, so I thought I forget to submit. I've deleted the other post. –  Heiko Rupp Apr 16 '11 at 20:33
    
Ah, probably a minor glitch in stack exchange. It's all good now that you've deleted the other post –  Earlz Apr 16 '11 at 20:37
    
Thank you for the advice! My recruiter discouraged me from mentioning that to the employer because I'd be sure to get rejected; but I think I agree with this position. –  randombear Apr 16 '11 at 20:42
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+1 hiding the truth is never the answer –  Brad Apr 17 '11 at 8:56
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I'm going to take the opposite view to most answers so far and basically say: you don't owe anybody anything. It's business. Never feel bad about basically being a selfish mercenary as far as taking jobs and leaving jobs goes. The ONLY aspect you should think about is how it reflects on you. eg. You don't want to get a reputation as an unreliable job hopper, etc. But you should never feel in any way in debt to selflessly "be extra nice to a company".

This all sounds extreme, but there are three reasons why it's not as bad as some people make it out to be:

  1. It's reciprocal. No employer ever will keep an employee on for once second longer than they need you. And they won't care that letting you go will ruin your plans - that it was "too soon", before you had a chance to learn much from that job, etc. As long as you're professional and don't introduce personal bad blood to such situations, it generally won't be held against you too strongly.
  2. Leaving for personal reasons has a very low aggravation rating. People need to leave areas for personal reasons all the time. Unlike leaving a job to get another similar job in the same area (especially for a competing company in the same field), leaving for personal reasons is reasonably aggravation-neutral. This is also where you can present your leaving as regretful - that you'd love to stay and grow with the company, but that your personal circumstances are taking you out of the area, etc.
  3. Selfish career growth almost always reflects professional reputation anyway. By only looking out for number one and doing things right by yourself and your professional reputation - you'll also generally be doing things right by the people you work for. For example: If you keep doing this over and over, your employment history will start to make you look like a shifty job-hopper. But one-off short stints here and there, left for personal reasons such as leaving the area, really aren't that strange.

Always bear in mind 1 - that it's reciprocal. All companies are constantly re-evaluating their budgets and workload and checking whether they really need to keep their full manifest of workers online. I guarantee they won't be thinking of any particular worker's personal convenience if they decide to put them on that year's redundancy/layoff hit list. You shouldn't think of their convenience either.

All that said - I'm not directly advising you to do it or not. Just saying that I don't think you should feel bad about it. If I was in that situation - I'd consider it from the point of view of point 3, while bearing 1 and 2 in mind.

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Amen! You shoud have seen my company during the recession of 2008. People who were awarded "Best Employee" in the previous year were kicked out as "non-performers" –  DPD Apr 18 '11 at 9:19
    
I agree with your points in general, but think that misleading potential employers is a bad idea. –  David Thornley Apr 18 '11 at 16:28
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Like David Thornley, I also agree with the points in this post. However, staying in the current job isn't necessarily a bad choice. In my answer I didn't mean that the OP owned something to the current job, but that even a mercenary can be fair in a professional relationship. Ultimately, I think we agree: you have to take care of number one (no one else will) but you don't have to burn bridges. –  Bernard Dy Apr 19 '11 at 2:09
    
@Bernard Dy: +1. Yeah, pretty much. :) –  Bobby Tables Apr 19 '11 at 2:57
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I would certainly go for the other job, but I wouldn't lie to them about my future plans. It could well be that they have a project of just the right length.

My first job had me working in an isolated way, like you describe. My second job had a very long commute (1.5 hours both ways), longer hours, high pressure and lots of interaction with other people.

I absolutely love having done both. You don't know what you're missing - in both kinds - until you've tried both. To each their own, but this will definitely help you decide what you like more way better than any advice given here on StackExchange.

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It seems the one thing that I keep seeing in all of these answers is "Don't lie to your future employer." Sounds like good advice to me. Problem is, I doubt my recruiter would go for that. –  randombear Apr 16 '11 at 20:46
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The reason for "don't lie" is that if you leave them in the middle of a job having said you can stay for longer, and especially if they find out you knew upfront, then you'll be in a pickle when your next employer asks for a reference from the previous employer. You'll have to explain why one is unavailable... or list a gap on your CV. –  enverpex Apr 16 '11 at 20:51
    
What if I didn't know up front? If my life happened to take me in a direction where, 11-12 months from now, I 'realized' I have to move out of the area? –  randombear Apr 16 '11 at 20:54
    
@randombear it's hard to predict an employer's reaction to your early exit... I don't feel like I know enough to tackle that kind of a question :) –  enverpex Apr 16 '11 at 21:00
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;-) Point taken. But either way, my instincts agree with your advice. Go in honest or not at all, right? –  randombear Apr 16 '11 at 21:07
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Keep the current job. The 9 months you're staying are not enough to do anything really useful in the new position.

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I should clarify -- its 12-13 months, not 9 months, but in 9 months I'd probably start to plan my move and "wind things down" so to speak. –  randombear Apr 16 '11 at 20:38
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Tons of useful things can be done in 9-13 months –  Brad Apr 17 '11 at 8:57
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If you are 100% definitely leaving the area then it isn't right to take a new position without telling the prospective employer. It is their decision whether to employ you or not in the circumstances.

I find that there is no substitute for working with smart people in a challenging environment.

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Seems like you feel guilty about not returning your employees investment. Whetever you do, DON'T let your employer know this. A smart manager will use it to emotionally blackmail you into staying.

Your interests are paramount, not your employers. Think this way: if your employer suddenly looses business will they keep you for a year? No , they will kick you off at the first pretext, maybe without any compensation. Depends on how strong labor protection laws are in your country.

That said, I think a year is more than enough ROI for your employer. You can definetly leave within a year without feeling that you havent given your employer their money's worth.

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I consider myself to be smart, I'm a manager, and I don't emotionally (or by any other means) blackmail people. –  Tim Post Apr 18 '11 at 0:52
    
+1 for the reciprocity. I'm always astounded when people feel that someone "owes something" to a company. It's never the case the other way around. –  Bobby Tables Apr 18 '11 at 0:53
    
Don't take it personally Tim. I have seen quite a few managers who tried such tricks. –  DPD Apr 18 '11 at 5:29
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You don't owe anybody anything in the business world, but it's still a good idea not to screw people over.

When you take a job, you also take an opportunity from the person who was second-best, and when you leave a job you harm your team and the project.

It's one thing to take a job knowing that you wouldn't stay in it forever, but it's different if you have a definite plan to leave, especially in the short term.

If your mind is set (or it's outside your control), don't bother with it, or let them know right away and don't waste their time interviewing. Maybe they'll be interested in a contractor.

9 months is a very short time, and your future team mates would never believe that you had no inclination of this impending move.

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The question to ask yourself is this: Do you need job and/or money? If yes, then take the job and leave in the year. If no, then don't (or let them know about it and let THEM make the choice; they might ask you to do a year's contracting).

This might come across as cynical and bitter, but very few companies care a lick about you or your own goals; they just want to realize their own goals and will stop at nothing to do it. The company would have no problem hiring you if you didn't plan on leaving and, if circumstances dictated it, firing you after a year; you shouldn't have a problem treating them the same way. We are all essentially mercenaries out for pay in exchange for "services rendered". Corporate loyalty doesn't exist anymore except in very rare circumstances, and most of the time the employee who demonstrates loyalty gets screwed in the end.

Do what is best for you, ethics be damned.

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+1. I worked for a company once who had a habit of advertising for permanent roles, but essentially treated them as contract hires (unbeknown to the candidate). Basically the reverse of OP's situation: the company made you think you've got a permanent job, but then you were laid off after a few months in the role (when the particular project you were hired for got quieter, etc). It was essentially because actual contractors would ask for much more, when broken down per hour, than they were giving salaried staff. –  Bobby Tables May 1 '11 at 10:08
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