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Your Next IT Job

By  Apr 5, 2010

Topics: SQL Server, Data

Some data professionals have worked (and plan to work) in the same place for a long time. In organizations large and small, the turnover rate just isn’t that high.

This has not been my experience. About every 3-5 years I’ve changed either roles or companies. That might be due to the IT environment or my personality (or a mix of the two), but the point is that I’ve had many roles and worked for many companies large and small throughout my 27+ years in IT.

At one point this might have been a detriment – a prospective employer looks at the resume and says “it seems you’ve moved around quite a bit.” But I haven’t found that to be the case all the time –in fact, in some cases the variety of jobs I’ve held has been an asset because I’ve seen what works (and doesn’t) in other environments, which can save time and money.

So if you’re in the first camp – great! Stay where you are, and continue doing the work you love. but if you’re in the second, then this post might be useful.

If you are planning on making a change, or perhaps you’ve hit a wall at your current location, you might start looking around for a better paying job – and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all try to make our lives better, and for some that involves more money. Money, however, isn’t always the primary motivator. I’ve gone to another job that doesn’t have as many benefits or has the same salary as the current job I’m working to gain more experience, get a better work/life balance and so on. It’s a mix of factors that only you know about.

So I thought I would lay out a few advantages and disadvantages in the shops I’ve worked at. This post isn’t aimed at a single employer, but represents a mix of what I’ve experienced, and of course the opinions here are my own. You will most certainly have a different take – if so, please post a response!

I also won’t mention a specific industry – I’ve worked everywhere from medical firms, legal offices, retail, billing centers, manufacturing, government, even to NASA. I’m focusing here mostly on size and composition. And I’m making some very broad generalizations here – I am fully aware that a small company might have great benefits and a large company might allow a lot of role flexibility.  your mileage may vary – and again, post those comments!

Small Company
To me a “small company” means around 100 people or less – sometimes a lot less. These can be really fun, frustrating places to to work.

Advantages: a great deal of flexibility, a wide range of roles (often at the same time), a large degree of responsibility, immediate feedback, close relationships with co-workers, work directly with your customer.

Disadvantages: Too much responsibility, little work/life balance, immature political structure, few (if any) benefits. If the business is family-owned, they can easily violate work/life boundaries.

Medium Size company
In my experience the next size company I would work for involves from a few hundred people to around five thousand.

Advantages: Good mobility – fairly easy to get promoted, acceptable benefits, more defined responsibilities, better work/life balance, balanced load for expertise, but still the organizational structure is fairly simple to understand.

Disadvantages: Pay is not always highest, rapid changes in structure as the organization grows, transient workforce. You may not be given the opportunity to work with another technology if someone already “owns” it. Politics are painful at this level as people try to learn how to do it.

Large Company
When you get into the tens of thousands of folks employed around the world, you’re in a large company.

Advantages: Lots of room to move around – sometimes you can work (as I have) multiple jobs through the years and yet stay at the same company, building time for benefits, very defined roles, trained managers (yes, I know some of them are still awful – trust me – I DO know that), higher-end benefits, long careers possible, discounts at retailers and other “soft” benefits, prestige. For some, a higher level of politics (done professionally) is a good thing.

Disadvantages: You could become another faceless name in the crowd, might not allow a great deal of flexibility,  large organizational changes might take away any control you have of your career. I’ve also seen large layoffs happen, and good people get let go while “dead weight” is retained. For some, a higher level of politics is distasteful.

So what are your experiences? Share with the group!

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