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Ask HN: What's it like to work in the same company for decades?
147 points by SenHeng on Feb 13, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments
The longest I've been at a place has been 2.5 years. I find that I'm usually itching to get out around after the 2 year mark due to various reasons like boredom from doing mostly the same thing over and over, lack of change in environment, no new challenges, people I know having mostly left/transferred to better places.

I've worked for the same company, a large technology firm, for a little under twenty years starting in my early 20s. I've changed jobs inside that company four times and changed locations three times. The ability to change jobs but not employers has helped a lot.

I have enjoyed it, for the most part. If you like the thrill or engagement or whatever other descriptor you want to use of smaller companies or startups, then it is definitely not that. What it has been is rock-solid stable, interesting, and good benefits and pay.

I've debated looking for another job several times, usually on crappy days, but I still come back to I've been at this company for a long time, I know how it works, I have many of the benefits of tenure (more vacation time is one, that managers and other groups give me more of the benefit of the doubt is another), and maybe a little bit of me being "boring." I don't want to change for the sake of change and I'm happy to go to work, do something I mostly like, get paid well for it, and then go home and live my life separate from work.

Hope that gives you some insight into why someone would stay at the same employer for so long.

I’ve been working for the same company now for a what is going on a record for myself, since 2008.

Made it through GFC, acquisition, etc.

In same company, have had engineering, product & managerial roles.

Right now transitioning back to engineering (my choice).

Why not move?

Well, company is keeping up with industry despite its size (Fortune 100), I have decent autonomy over what I work on and how I work, I’m compensated well above local market, and have seen 5-8% pay increases every year, along with generous RSU grants.

This effect of this has meant in less than 5 years now I will be mortgage free (in a housing market with 12x annual income multiple for house prices), and a financial buffer of a few years annual income

I could have been working for cooler or more exciting local startups, but wouldn’t have been even close to the financial position I am now in (I’m 38).

Work is enabling my independence and peace of mind.

>get paid well for it,

I am curious what your pay is.

I feel like people get screwed if they dont change employers.

Since you asked, and I believe in transparency: Inclusive of stock and cash bonus compensation, my W2 says I was paid a little over $225k in 2018. The W2 I received for my first year of employment says I was paid a little over $60k in that year.

I don't know if it's true that people get screwed if they don't change employers. I certainly don't feel screwed. Maybe I could make more if I went to work at one of the other large technology companies; that's certainly been something I've thought about. But I'm quite happy with what I am paid and feel like the downsides (real or imagined) of changing employers are not outweighed by the upside of a higher income.

where is this job located, that matters a lot in evaluating if you "got screwed" by being at total comp 225k after 2 decades. For comparison, 175k was my total comp at Bay Area job out of college.

I live in Seattle, though that’s not where I first started with my employer, so that may skew the numbers.

Also, depending on when we respectively graduated from college, the starting salaries are different. Starting salaries for IT where I lived when I graduated were in the $40-50k range.

Your answers read exactly like most of the people I know at Microsoft. I think to a certain extent companies with high average tenure produce cultures where people become risk-averse and reinforce these values through statements like your own.

For what it's worth, by staying there you are leaving a serious amount of compensation behind, assuming your skills could find you another job. $225k would be $350k elsewhere, easily. Many of the MSFT lifers I know don't really have a skillset that would translate or be valuable elsewhere, due to their focus on their company. That's probably true of most cases where someone stays at a single firm for a long time.

By no means am I suggesting there's anything wrong with your worldview, just pointing out that in this industry, you are leaving serious comp behind by not shopping around. Your work after moving would probably be more enjoyable and interesting, too.

> By no means am I suggesting there's anything wrong with your worldview, just pointing out that in this industry, you are leaving serious comp behind by not shopping around. Your work after moving would probably be more enjoyable and interesting, too.

You may be right, at least about the money, but I think you're missing the other side of it that I tried to express: I don't need more money. I don't even, really, want more money. What I do want is to do something mostly interesting--I don't have to optimize for interest--in the least amount of time. I like what I do for work, even if some days I don't love it, but I adore what my salary allows me to do outside of work.

Switching employers, looking for a new one, making those decisions...they all take time that I don't have to spend right now because my needs are quite nicely met where I am and, so far as I can tell, will continue to be met for a long time. I do side projects outside of work to keep practice in some skills that don't directly relate to my work and I have friends who are at other companies and are also my professional network if I ever do need another job.

tl;dr: I'm optimizing for contentedness, not income or interest, and that's the big reason why I've stayed at the same employer for almost two decades. My employer treats me well and pays me enough so I am content.

I don’t know about this math. What if you change jobs and hate the new job? How do you put a dollar value on months wasted working at a place that’s not a good fit for you.

There’s only a 33% chance a job will work out. That is, that both you and the employer agree it’s a good fit after a year. So you are more likely to fail in a job change, and the odds get worse the more jobs you change.

That's not how that math works, _at all_.

Besides, you have an asymmetric opportunity, since you can interview, get an offer, and decline it if you don't like the new option. You don't need to quit before interviewing. In fact, that post-offer woo phase can give you a huge chance to get more information about the new gig.

Time has value. And interviews only give you a partial view of your ultimate working situation. But you and I are looking at this from totally different perspectives, I have no interest in convincing you I’m right. My experience is that if money is really what you want, you should start a business. As a owner you will earn more but must deal with instability. If it’s stability you want, you get a job. That’s the trade off I and many other entrepreneurs often consider. So job hopping to make a few extra K is a waste of time. Why job hop when you can do your own thing and double your income? Seems like someone that’s afraid to commit either way.

I've worked for my company for 7 years now, and I "get paid well for it". The actual $ figure isn't important, other than "it's enough for me". I'm sure it's less than the average software developer with my experience, and certainly it's less than the incredible figures that the big SV companies apparently pay.

But I love working here, the company mission is very inspiring, and my coworkers are excellent. And my salary is enough that my needs are met. So I'm really not interested in keeping score.

In practice it just doesn't happen to the level that makes changing jobs worth it.

When it comes to base salary - sure you might get salary that's bigger than existing employees in same role. And then on first annual cycle they'll be in the same ballpark as you through combination of salary increase and annual bonus. That's because bigger companies usually look at "total compensation".

I guess if you play it right you might "inflate" pending RSUs and ask them to match it.

Though how much can you "inflate" it in the age when employeers too can go to glassdoor and check what that other company usually gives?

The longest company I worked for was one I built. And I probably should have quit earlier. ;)

I have worked with a lot of people who are primarily lifers at their company. My role has often been that of a change agent (outsider / consultant hired specifically because I’m an outsider).

One thing I have seen consistently is that the real power and influence sits with those with tenure. The older a organization the more critical tenured employees are to its operations.

Young people often think that they can gain influence or freedom to do what they enjoy by changing jobs and getting a better title, only to run into the “old guard” who refuse to accept change.

But there is another more reliable method. And this works in large organizations best, becoming a trusted influencer...trust comes from doing your work to the best of your ability and keeping a positive attitude.

Good leaders are often taught to find the influencers when joining a new organization. So the longer you stay, the more influence you gain. And influence gives you the ability to determine what you want to do. There tends to be a lot of turnover at the top and bottom of an organization. Making those in the middle very important.

This is so critical to established companies that they have all sorts of programs designed to retain people identified as important once they have gotten past the initial audition period. IBM and Intel are famous for their leadership development on both technical and management fronts.

If you want to enjoy the perks of being around a company for awhile, you need to go to bigger organizations or companies with mature management that are setup to facilitate this.

Some people want to work on new things / startups every other year. Nothing wrong with that. But when you have a company full of people like that, the culture isn’t going to be conducive to doing the things required to keep people around for the long term.

IBM and Intel are famous for their leadership development on both technical and management fronts.

These companies are more famous for slowly and subtly purging their technical and management staff like after they are too old. Like over 40.

Interesting. I didn’t know that.

Interesting assertion, do you have any facts to back it up ?

I don’t understand view points like this. Why the constant itch for change? What’s wrong with just going to work, doing your job, collecting the check, and going home? People are so caught up in the rat race and keeping up with each other. Career does not have to be the definition of success.

I wish I could give perspective on working in the same job for decades but I’m only 7 years in. 34 to go and zero intention on changing employers or careers unless I have to.

> What’s wrong with just going to work, doing your job, collecting the check, and going home?

You spend more time at work then anything else, perhaps tied with sleeping. More than with your spouse. More than with your kids. More than relaxing. Why not make work mean something? If work means something, you can't just do it for 40 years as a punch in, punch out. That sounds horrible.

I suppose I’m looking at it from the perspective of someone who already thoroughly enjoys what he does and finds it new and challenging every day. You don’t need to constantly change jobs to have this though. Many jobs are largely what you make of them. If you’re going in and just punching the clock and doing the bare minimum then sure, it’s like you say, mind numbing. However, if you go in and constantly find new problems to tackle and ways to change and improve your role then why can’t it be fulfilling within the confines of a normal work day?

I’m also unusual because I spend less time at work vs home. I’m significantly out numbered amongst other workers in the US but when you travel abroad you realize many other places take a similar attitude. Employment is a means to an end. There’s no reason to accept that work is where you spend most of your time. Reframe your mindset and find a lifestyle where work does not define you and how you spend your time.

> Many jobs are largely what you make of them

Most jobs don't allow you that freedom, nor do I think they have an obligation to.

Lots of people are academics, not in profession, but in spirit. Why would an academic go do physics for a fraction of the paycheck than they would doing analytics for a bank or trading firm? Because they can't not. That's not to say that their work is more important than family, but it's more than a means to an end. It's the work of their life.

From that perspective, if someone is not able to extract that level of fulfillment from whatever the situation is at their day job, then assuming they are just punching in the clock, or telling them to reframe their mindset, is a bit preachy IMO.

It didn’t come off as preachy to me. bronco21016 makes an excellent point (not made often) that you don’t need to spend all your waking hours focused on making your company successful in order to have a job which you find fulfilling and pays well.

On the other hand many of Einstein's greatest ideas, discoveries, and publications came while working at a patent office as a low level inspector because in spite of years of effort, he couldn't find any academic position that would have him. That did change quite rapidly afterwards however, but it's certainly a great example of somebody making of his life and work what he wanted to make of it.

Who do you think is better/brighter/more meaningful impact on modern civilization: Einstein or Tesla?

I find meaning in having enough resources that my partner and kids are happy, regardless of the challenge or enjoyment of the work I do.

It would be selfish (and borderline irresponsible) for me to prioritize excitement and self-actualization at work over a comfortable, stable life for my family. That’s what holidays and hobbies are for.

I think it's fine to have a bit of selfishness in your life. I'm not saying that you need to make very irresponsible decisions, but if all your decisions are made based on what others need, you end up living for others.

Agree. I dislike adopting a braindead attitude to any activity because my experience is that it eventually spreads out to other activities that I find boring.

I like attempting new challenges. The problem is that I often don't get to use the new skills gained while attempting those challenges. That's why I switch.

As someone who has been in and out of small companies it is usually for a number of reasons:

1) I feel like I can effect more change with fewer barriers in a smaller company - the idea to goal conversion is much more condensed vs when I worked at IBM and the number of processes and approvals it had to go through.

2) If you are in small companies there is usually very little room for progression, smaller companies = smaller budgets - when I was an employee of these the only real way to get any kind of pay increase as experience increases was to switch companies.

3) Some of us enjoy the change, I loved the work I did at IBM but it was still mostly BAU work, there was very little scope for personal innovation over the long term. Sure you could switch departments quite easily and that was a huge benefit but back to point 1 - the innovation momentum is hard to keep up. At the companies I have been working at for the past 7 years, every day is different, every day is researching the next best thing or how to improve the current things we have with a view to squeezing out more performance, or decreasing costs. Sure I have some BAU work but it's mostly meetings and developer mentoring, hardly painful!

4) To your final point, I am lucky to be doing something I have always been passionate about - this isnt a rat race for me, its not about keeping up with others, my definition of success is how much I enjoy going to work in the morning and not having to fret the little things.

> What’s wrong with just […] doing your job

You're not being rewarded for your success or your hard work in any meaningful way; you're not learning new things or barely keeping up with the status quo; you're forced to work with other individuals who do not care about the quality of their work, or the effect it will have on others, or do not offer enlightening conversation, views.

> collecting the check

The check is not keeping up with the ever increasing cost of living.

> People are so caught up in the rat race […] Career does not have to be the definition of success.

I don't want it to be. I want to be able to make enough to meet my (reasonable) life goals.

If your company is giving you meaningful work, compensating you well for it, and you would not find better on the market, then more power to you. Not all of us are so lucky.

I don't know what "the rat race" and "keeping up" have to do with it, but being bored or otherwise unhappy is reason enough for a change, as far as I'm concerned. Life's too short to waste 8 hours a day being unhappy. Nobody's going to reward you for it, it's not impressing anybody, and companies won't hesitate to lay you off anyway, no matter how long you've been there.

Besides that, a person can do their job, collect a check and go home regardless of which company they work for, so why stick with a one that isn't satisfying? Why not see what the other options are and get a fuller perspective? The software world is huge, and you'll never experience it all working at the same company forever.

Unless you're going to be bored and miserable everywhere you go because you're looking for meaning and fulfillment in your 9-5 and the vast majority of paid work can't offer that.

I get restless. I think I'm just a pretty dissatisfied person. I want to do great things.I want to make more money. I want to have the choice to retire young. I want to be happy.

If I was sentenced to 40 years of randomly assigned work then I'd just clock in and clock out, but I get to do something I love at an exorbitant salary. With a taste of that I'm going fight for positions where I can do more of what I love and make more money. I don't really care about keeping up with people or prestige, I care about freedom.

I'd be making less than half of what I do now if I had stayed at my first job. This buys my freedom sooner.

Well, the same mindset you have there with "What's wrong with just going to work...", you should also apply to the opposite point of view: "What's wrong with wanting to change jobs every couple of years?".

There's nothing inherently wrong with either option.

You might not understand, but I think it would be worth to exercise empathy and try to understand it, instead of passing judgement. The OP is doing precisely this, not passing judgement and asking for help to exercise empathy.

> What’s wrong with just going to work, doing your job, collecting the check, and going home?

Depends on what the job is, how much that check is for compared to CoL, and how much I have going on at home.

I imagine if someone hated their job and didn't make enough money, they'd want change. I've been in both camps at different stages of my career.

Because doing the same thing every day for decades is incredibly dull and some people want to do something new and exciting? Maybe someone started off in a high-pressure environment, but now wants to focus on their personal life and wants more freedom to actually... live their life?

It's not always about keeping up. One of my main indicators of success is how much I improve the lives of others. You can't get that working somewhere like Facebook for 20 years. There appears to be diminishing gains the longer you stay somewhere.

Why would you immediately "make an impact" as soon as you switch jobs though? If you're not taking that new position, somebody else will be and I'm not sure you're that unique enough to do something totally different from the job done by that other person. Plus, it's usually the case that the longer you stay, the more influence you gain, and I don't think you can effect changes in a new organization rapidly, unless you're hired as a CEO or something. Maybe the only thing you get by switching jobs is to actually have products that you touched reach more users, but I don't think that equates to "improving the lives of others". Have you actually switched many jobs and felt happier afterwards? I can't really get your reasoning.

This is a great point, however, at most companies you have to put on an "act" that you are "nimble" and not just doing your job well. Nobody cares if you're doing your job well. If you put too much energy into that, you'll be viewed as stodgy, stuck in your ways, resistant to change, and ushered out. Excellence is not valued as much as skills in the latest market transition. And it's not your company's fault, they're trying to stay in business until they're roadkill for Amazon or a company in Asia.

I don't get your point. Surely an excellent worker is also somebody who is eager to learn and keeps up with the newest developments keenly? Why would they be two contradictory traits? Perhaps you confused "stubbornness" with "excellence".

I've done a bunch of 2 years, a 5 year and an 8 year. Staying longer at a place you like is great. I don't believe there are no new challenges, after a few years you have more knowledge and authority to do the major work on a big system. Choose an area you like and work on it - maybe the front end or the back end tuning, or build pipeline, or monitoring - there are a million things that need doing. Alternatively you get to choose on refactorings, rewrites, and new architecture. I think you have to be honest and confident enough to say you want to do it, or often just start doing it. If you're the new guy on the team you can't really do that, the guys who've been around can.

The other benefit is getting to know business and management. Usually they turn over less frequently, they love someone who actually is committed to the business and they can rely on.

The culture of a place that looks after people and has longer term employees is great. Less turnover means less interviewing, fewer clueless newbies that need training and fixing up after. My favorite project had 30 devs and 25 of us had been there for more than 5 years - no one need hand holding or did stupid things, we were super productive and everyone enjoyed a great time.

For some people it can be easier to get promoted by moving, I'd suggest the opposite - just start doing the job you want to do, usually no one will complain.

Finally you said people you work with moved on to "better places" is that grass is greener or you are always working for your second choice employers?

Oh - one last thing. If you have a family its great to have a steady work schedule and you can concentrate on looking after babies and not worry about extra job hunting stress. Find a place you like and enjoy the stability.

Not decades but ~8 years...

Good: you know the company politics. You know who to ask for anything, who not to trust, who you can joke with and who you can’t. You can talk back to higher-ups, tell them what you want to do rather than being told what to do, bend the rules a little or set your own rules. You can pull from prior experience - “I know you don’t think that estimate is right, but we did something very similar five years ago and it overran because of this same risk factor.”

Bad: you know the company politics. You’re embroiled in every stupid “this guy doesn’t like that guy!!” management issue. Unless you have remarkable self-control, it’s all impossible to stay out of. Also, people either come to you for every tiny matter because you know everything, or they see you as unapproachable and won’t talk to you when they really need to, forcing you to chase them. Either way, in total, RIP coding time.

I've been working at the same place since December 1984. I am working at Kennedy Space Center. I have worked for 5 different contractors and on about 20 different projects. I have basically been a mainly a system administrator for an Alpha Micro AMOS, OS-9, Apollo DomainIX, SUN Solaris, various linux systems and for the last 20 years Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, 5, 6 and 7. I have administered individual workstations, servers, clusters, SAN systems.

The secret is to always be trying to learn enough to move the next new project. My goal everyday is to try to learn something new each and every day.

-grin- I get the impression you've played around with fortran 77 scripts before. (I sometimes work on software older than I am lol)

I've been at my current company for over a decade. The company has changed a lot over the years, going from a large public company when I joined, to private, back to public again recently.

The reasons I stayed are simple: I've learned a tonne, changed roles and responsibilities, interacted with many interesting characters, and continue to grow personally. No matter the tenure, if you aren't being challenged then your boredom will affect your performance.

Create new challenges that solve problems within your organization, and if that doesn't work by all means strike out for greener pastures.

Best of luck.

Sounds like Dell. No matter, glad you were able to survive through the reorgs.

It would be interesting to know what your role progression looks like over the years. Have you moved from individual contributor to management and perhaps back to individual contributor?

At the 5 year mark, I started developing a sense of jealousy towards the new people: I am envious that they come in and are overwhelmed with all our technology stack and they spend months learning it, and you can see their knowledge of the system grows day by day, whereas for me it reached a plateau since I already know how all those systems work, for the most part.

I try to work on greenfield projects where I have to research a new topic from scratch, which sometimes is exciting, but in the end it’s not the same, so I’ll likely not wait until the 6 year mark and I’ll jump ship sometimes this year.

I don't think working in the same company for decades is really an issue.

I just wouldn't recommend you do the same job for more than ~24 months.

Bit of a rambling reply, speaking from experience.

Companies with tech departments (that will cater to this crowd) that are around that long tend to be maybe big, somewhat stable, somewhat largish revenue companies.

It is not the norm for people to stay that long at a company (tech company especially) these days. Lots of coworkers come in and eventually leave (by their own choice, sometimes not). You end up staying in touch with the ones that you like. You end up cherishing the people you work with, because some of them might have been there as long as you. You end up going to their children's birthdays, and celebrate holidays with them. They can be life friends once you share that amount of time with them.

Leadership drifts in and out. Passing the baton that often ends up diluting the company culture to a point where the business itself becomes its own organism, carried by its own inertia and making very clinical decisions about its own survival. Some of these decisions begin to weigh down on you. I guess it's true what they say, familiarity breeds contempt.

Some good things - you have a lot of time to design, implement, and deliver on projects. You can wind up with quite an eclectic portfolio of internal initiatives that you've delivered. Many of these can be quite fun. Benefits are good over that period of time. Many companies end up delivering benefits on a graded scale based on seniority. I'm up to 6 weeks of paternity leave if I ever want to use it.

Assuming you joined near the top of a payband, years of merit/cost of living increases can give you golden handcuffs. You get a lot of time to build wealth, but without careful planning you will not financially be able to leave. You become even more beholden, and less willing to leave over time. Victim of your own comfort? Actually, maybe not comfort. Inertia?

There's some thoughts. The people around you, and the company change over time.

I've been at the current job for almost 16 years now, joining when we were about 90 people and now we're at over 15,000. We're a manufacturing company that started out without in-house manufacturing, then added a few of our own factories, then bought some other companies in our space (some of which had factories, some of which are entirely outsourcers).

Over that time, I've held countless different roles, starting as IC, moving into leadership roles; we've expanded product lines, expanded geographies for both production and development, evolved tech several times as well. I've worked in development, tech operations, manufacturing, and some cross-cutting roles. (I joined before AWS or public cloud computing was a thing; my group is now almost [98+%] entirely cloud-based.)

If we are able to continue to thrive as a business, I expect this might be the last place I work. I could retire now and we'd be OK, but with two kids in elementary school, I'm realistically way better off working another 10-ish years as I get plenty of PTO and a 4-week additional paid break every 5 years.

Same company, many different jobs (which seems to be a pattern of sorts in the other responses). Pay is OK; I could make slightly more at a FAANG (or at least at the FxAxG subset that have local offices), but I take pride in what we've built from essentially the ground up, love the LT I work on and a portion of the company's success is traceable reasonably clearly to what my group does and how well we do it. If we fail to thrive, it will be at least partly my fault.

Somewhat ironically, I didn't even want to join this company back in 2003; I was just at the worst job I'd ever held, essentially being bribed to keep a chair warm and do nothing for 6 months until some outsized bonuses got paid out. The day those bonuses hit, there was a line of people waiting to resign to the director of software. I think I was #6 that day and he was exhausted from hearing the same story. This company wasn't sexy, their tech was fairly weak, they didn't have the best reputation, but when I got into the interview process, I was blown away by the calibre of people working there and the vision of the CTO/CEO. I went from "I'll take anything because it beats getting paid well to do nothing" to "Hey, this is interesting!" and it's only gotten better since.

I've been working for the same company for 12 years, same role, same position.

Why did i stay? i was the only dev for like 8 years, being responsible for your work and not being able to blame someone for legacy code is an eye opener.

it makes you love your craft even more, i joined to start a port, turns out this porting process never ends (I like improving my own code).

I’ve been at my current company since 2005. I’ve changed disciplines twice, business groups (1000s of employees) three times, teams four+ times, roles at least three times (IC, Tech Lead, Manager). Many smaller re-orgs occurred in between and a few too many office moves.

In short, in a huge company there are challenges at all levels of the technology stack and that’s completely forgetting about areas like finance, marketing, business development, legal and HR.

It’s hard to get bored if you try to keep learning and challenging yourself every day.

You'll probably find people working in one company for a long time where the company is large enough to swap roles internally. I've worked with people who did 30+ years in the same corp, but the environment obviously changed a lot.

Often times, cozy.

Some things might suck, but if you have great managers, great benefits, and like the work you do, you might stick with it. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Coming up on the dawn of my fourth decade with the same company. By all measures, I've been compensated handsomely as the company grew.

It only worked because of growth: both of the company and of my personal development at every stage in the growth. It's been like changing companies 4-5 times, but with no risk of getting into a situation I regretted. And a lot of my peers jumped at 10% raises or minor status improvements, and fell behind.

If you can hit the right company in the right market at the right time in its growth, prove yourself valuable and acquire equity, you will find many professional challenges that will far outweigh job-hopping for short term bumps. Take risks on this if you are under 30.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of growth and health of the company though. FAANGs get all the joy from eager 22-year-olds and antsy 25-year-olds, but at some point each of those companies were 200 or 500 or 1000 person companies--when it made a lot more sense to join.

My advice: pick a small, promising company in a field that holds risk but will still be relevant 30 or more years from now, and build your career there.

10 years and looking for an out. One thing to be aware of is that long stays are probably better with a large company with a slower rate of change. Staying at a small company for a long time is riskier in that you end up becoming more of a generalist, become the goto and the goat and are in real danger if the company changes leadership late in the game. Find that as an older individual trying to get back into a 9-5 workplace after 10 years in a specialized environment (doing everything) does not translate well to the current market.

I like the generalist route and have always avoided roles that lock me into a specialty. I'm marketing so maybe that changes by industry but I feel this is better for future employment as you you have multiple roles you can go into. As long as you are knowledgeable in said area the interview should bring that out.

Also just for enjoyability, I prefer variety of tasks.

I haven't worked at the same place, but in the same industry since 2001, doing almost exactly the same work for each place I've been. Having so much domain knowledge is extremely useful. I'm not a great developer but it sets me apart, very far apart in my opinion.

The part that sucks is that very few people recognize it and the ones that do are rarely the ones that get to make the calls. The ones that do make the calls think any developer can do what I do. What I've seen happen several times, is the company decides to replace me with outsourced/cheaper development, and after an attempt to reason with them, I stay for a bit to help them move in that direction and then move on to another place. Invariably, they call a year or 2 later looking for help, not because I've planted some obscure code no one can understand but me, but because no other developers have the knowledge to form the necessary follow-up questions to the ever-changing specs handed down from the higher-ups before moving forward. They end up with systems full of incorrect assumptions that fail daily and tie up all the developer time being fixed. Now I can't help them because I'm working for a competitor. It's infuriating. Every company I've ever worked for I've wanted to make the best in the industry, but they've consistently been blinded by short-term goals, driven by unfounded hype to be "progressive", when all they needed to do was a few basic things better than the competition to take the majority of the market. Even when I get far enough to produce numbers to prove that point, they still want to do some wild shit no one is asking for, or they get bought out (because they start growing rapidly) by a venture capitalist company that just wants to do a quick flip.

Why is it that an employer can let a developper go only to need to call them later and ask questions? Do you think this a documentation issue?

The questions aren't usually about things I left behind, though that does come up and documentation could help that. They're usually looking for someone to build out a new integration with a big customer that has to be done right the first time, quickly, or risk loosing the customer to a competitor. Outsorced dev teams with high turnover and little domain knowledge just can't pull that off, a fact many places learn too late.

I’ve worked for the same employer for almost 20 years now. Although I interview externally every few years, for the most part it’s been a great experience.

I average 5% compensation growth (higher if you factor benefits), and aren’t compelled to move to a saturated, expensive market. Same employer doesn’t mean same role. I usually stick around in a particular thing for 2-4 years until recently, but now my scope is very broad.

End of the day you need to decide if you want to do the same role forever or if you want to evolve. If you want to be a senior programmer forever, staying in the same gig is my vision of hell.

The risk is that if you are forced to change employers by circumstance, you’re less attractive to employers, especially when you hit senior roles that aren’t executive.

I am at the same company for a year now and I want to stay for the rest of my career, a lot of people work here for their whole career and 30+ years isn't unheard of.

The company is one of the global leaders in its segment, treat their employees very well, pays very well (probably less than FAANG or your SF startup ;) ) and gives me a lot of autonomy and opportunities to practice leadership.

I don't see why I would want to change companies. I've worked in seven companies before this one (startups, big companies) and usually left around the 2y mark. This one hits all the check boxes (work environment, work/life balance, technical challenges, perks, good pay). I can certainly see why people stay here for a long long time.

The key is company that allows you in house change. So, when you get bored or are not learning anymore, you can negotiate different team or task. Or maybe just smaller shift in responsibilities. The advantage of doing that is that you know what you go into, so you can choose what exactly you want.

There are companies where people change often and then there are companies where people stay for long. There are companies where people who stayed long became stale (not moving in positions) and then those where they continue learning.

I'm coming up on a decade. I didn't start as a software engineer, but that's what I grew into. Every couple of weeks I start to think to myself, what am I doing here? And actually, part of posting this is me hoping someone will be like, yo, do this, or that.

I'm in my late 20s, and I guess I would be considered a senior developer. Coming up on 8 years of JS/Node/Go Development experience. ONLY problem is, all of our software is utter trash. I have dozens of projects I maintain and I can't keep up with any of them. I'm constantly debugging or building a prototype, that, somehow makes it into production as a prototype.

I'm not paid amazingly. About 20%-40% below market. I have been promised the moon and it's pretty unlikely I will ever see half of the promises come to fruition. Especially since our projects are hitting critical mass. That is, nothing works and nothing can be fixed because of how massive the architecture is and how small the "team" is. I've been trying to move a DB from a server that is about 2 years past life span, for the last few months.

I declined a job as a lead developer/CTO. I absolutely annihilated the interview and the offer went from a front-end developer to running the whole team and potentially CTO. I don't think I am anywhere near ready for that. I never test, have no successful continuous integration projects (despite my best efforts to get people on board), and have basically no apps running at a high capacity.

I digress to the question itself. In tech, I would never stay at a job over a year or two. Unless I really jive with the team, am making adequate cash, and feel like I'm still moving forward. Yeah, I know, I'm a hypocrite. I regret it. I think I would even have been much happier if I quit my current job for like, two years, then came back after spending some time at a well established shop. But who knows really. My job is the wild west and it may have just made me more disgruntled to know how to do everything right, and still lack the time to do so.

Here are some reasons why long tenure sucks:

1. You get completely complacent. I spend a lot of time just messing around. Again, hypocrite, like, hey jackass, use that time to test. Ha, too complacent and if I even start setting up a test environment, someone will smell blood and task me off to prototype land. Don't get me wrong though, I spend a lot of time at home, off the clock, building random new crap for the company.

2. You get stagnant in hierarchy. Basically, they like me where I am at and they won't compromise that with any form of promotion.

3. You quit making relationships with coworkers. I'm fairly young, but I have been employed here longer than anyone else. I've seen thousands come and go. I stopped making much of an attempt to know anyone. Unless they're developers, of course.

4. Newer employees despise you. I make more than them. I look like I do less. Also, I get away with pretty much anything. Which, causes quite the rift.

5. Managers become overly confident in your skills. Example: I was tasked with building something like uber, by myself, in a single month. While maintaining my 12-15 other active projects. Let's just say, we didn't make deadline and also, I'm now proficient with quickbooks and several varieties of payment processors.

6. You get honey-potted into their culture. Everything is wrong here, and I know that. Despite how hard I try, I can't get it to change. Perhaps we're only successful because we cut every corner, or perhaps that's the only reason I'm not writing this from a beach in the Grand Cayman's. Bottom line, if you're at a company for ten years, you'll know the problems and the futility of trying to solve them.

Here are some reasons why long tenure rocks:

1. I don't have to EFFING interview. I hate it. I hate it, I hate it. I suck at interviewing unless I am in a very social and charismatic state. Something I've been trying to perfect. My mind works better with logic puzzles and overcoming obstacles than it does with explaining my love/hate relationship with NPM.

2. I don't have to worry about employment. Unless of course the company goes down in a fiery mess of runtime errors.

3. I can pretty much take time to learn whatever the heck I want. I know AWS Infrastructure, Accounting Software, pretty much all of Google's APIs, Currency APIs, hell, I've even dabbled with crypto currency APIs. A metric ton of front-end frameworks and libraries. I couldn't learn any of this if I worked at a assembly line shop.

At the end of the day, I just worry that I'm going to be Cinderella at midnight. Will I be hire-able, being a jack of all trades master of literally nothing. Will I have to accept a novice position? Who knows. For now, I'm just some Brogrammer.

Honestly, get out now. Your story resonates strongly with me because it's basically my story word for word. Except I started as the only developer/operations guy and now I'm managing a small team.

At first it was great because there was (still is) so many greenfield projects and I had the autonomy to choose what I thought was best/would make the most gains for the company.

Now I'm early 40's, coming up on my second decade, and I've recently found out that the majority of the staff are paid more than me. I feel taken advantage of and undervalued, and I'm so fucking depressed that my complacency has walked me down this dead end street.

Trust me, if you're feeling like this now, leave. Nothing will change. Company culture is hard enough to alter, but it's impossible if you don't have the support of the CEO. I've fought against it for at least ten years and really have nothing to show for my efforts but a kick in the teeth.

Almost every small company with the sole survivor has this story. You know where all the bodies are, have done everything once and then discover some uncomfortable truths. You are right to get out in your early 40s. Don't wait.

> I don't think I am anywhere near ready for that. I never test, have no successful continuous integration projects (despite my best efforts to get people on board), and have basically no apps running at a high capacity.

Don't sell yourself short. Very few teams have the resources to hit every wish list item on every best practice and still keep up with incoming project requests. So as leadership, you're constantly in a state of balancing internal resources against external expectations/needs. With your current experience, you're intimately familiar with and recognize the dangers of always compromising on the internal resources rather than against external requests. Which gives you a lot to draw on as the team lead to ensure that isn't repeated at your new company. Running far too lean for far too long gives you incredible insight into both what "too lean" actually means for different aspects of the systems, and what failure modes occur when you pass that point. You'll be better prepared to know when to put your foot down or push back on something, as well as have an understanding of where you can be flexible or compromise when necessary while minimizing the risk of creating a dumpster fire.

Someone without your experience may not be as adept at that yet, and end up learning those lessons only after they're put in charge, at the expense of the team they're put in charge of.

Not quite the timespans some folks have mentioned, but I’ve been at my company 6-7 years. I helped start it, and it was recently acquired. It’s still super fun to work on. That’s enough for me.

I worked for a company for 10 years. Never doing that again. My works history is 5 months, 1.75 years, 1.5 years, 10 YEARS, 1.75 years, 6 months (will be leaving asap).

what didn't you like about working for the same company for 10 years?

Eventually I could feel my skills stagnating. Yes, I was able to do more impactful work, but keeping up with high-level industry tech changes became difficult as I was spending more time on a whiteboard than at a computer.

Or maybe they liked the 10 years job but knows they won’t be working for 10 more years.

Ideally, yes...I don't want to be working full time in 10 years. A few more ~year long gigs, and I'll likely put myself out to the 1099 pasture.

current TC?

If all you do is simple crud web apps then sure, jump around a lot because it takes a week to learn the domain. If you’re in some industry where it takes a couple years to learn the domain, stay longer and actually contribute.

But then, if you suck at what you do, definitely jump around often enough where people can’t figure out just how bad you suck.

Note: General “you” not specific “you”.

Big companies re-org often so bad employees often get re-org’d around so they can start afresh each time. Some people develop this as their primary skill.

after 25 years, it's institutionalising.

lol I love that the comment section is blank. I think it's reflective of how long our generation (assuming most people reading this are 20-40 or so), and in particular people in our industry normally stay in jobs which aligns w/ the two year marker the OP mentioned.

I often feel like a throwback to another time, as I've worked in the family business for 25 years now. I've taken the company over from my retired father who started it 48 years ago, and my teenaged son is now working there part time on the assembly line.

I did the whole 'big tech company' thing working as a coder for a couple of years right out of school, but hated all the politics and bull. In my small company I've always been kept busy and interested doing custom embedded systems work for various clients, and have enjoyed taking us from ancient hand build electronics processes to almost fully automated manufacturing over a twenty year period. It also helps that since I'm the boss, I don't have to put up with anybody else's crap :)

>>It also helps that since I'm the boss, I don't have to put up with anybody else's crap :)

Do you sometimes find it lonely at the top? I hope leadership loneliness is somewhat blunted by having your father around for counsel.

No, I actually have some good long term employees working for me whom I admire and trust. So I don't actually pull the "I'm the boss" trump card too often; typically just when somebody has to make the decision. It usually feels like a team working together rather than a bunch of people working "for me".

My dad still has an office at the company and comes in a few times a week, I think mostly to get out of the house. So you're right, I often make use his council and advice.

Ya the longest I've been at any job is just under 7 years, and that is a long time nowadays.

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