When’s the last time you looked around for a new job? If the answer is “more than a year ago”, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Even if you’re happy in your current role, simply looking around offers many benefits.
You’ll have a better sense of the job market, especially around role and pay. In particular, software engineering salaries seem to have risen dramatically in the last 24 months. Companies know this—but you might not. Interviewing and getting offers can help reduce that information asymmetry. Even if you don’t jump ship, knowing what you’re worth to other companies might give you leverage during your next performance cycle.
Frequent interviews are also a forcing function to keep your résumé up to date and interview skills sharp. My day job has very little to do with what’s tested in typical engineering interviews—I don’t often find myself inverting binary trees or solving recurrences. And I never update my résumé until it’s absolutely necessary. Even at a yearly cadence, it’s hard for me to remember bullet-worthy achievements. Any longer and they’re gone forever.
Of course, there’s one other benefit to regularly interviewing: you might find a job you’re more excited about than your current one!
Once upon a time, white-collar workers spent their careers with just one or two companies. They were intensely loyal to their workplace, and for good reason: companies rewarded that loyalty with stable employment, strong benefits, and, crucially, pensions, to long-tenured employees.
These days, tenure doesn’t provide as much of an economic advantage. Benefits barely scale with tenure, pensions are non-existent, and age discrimination means that tenure doesn’t actually help you keep a job. Tours of duty in tech have shrunk to match the new reality—from decades to just a few years. But even as we’ve settled into a new employment cadence, most think of interviewing as taking place after deciding to quit. That’s backwards: how can you decide to quit without knowing what your options are? Interview first—then, after seeing your options, decide whether you want to quit. Just interviewing is a reversible decision—no matter how far you get in the process, you can always decide to stay where you are.
Of course, staying in place for a while has benefits. Joining a new company is a tradeoff. On the one hand, you’re likely to get a big raise, diversify your equity holdings (assuming you’re getting a grant), and enjoy a massively accelerated learning curve for the first few months on the job. On the other hand, tenure brings non-linear benefits, like life-long friends and mentors, an increased ability to navigate company politics, and the years of context to build more things better and faster.
When you do interview, make sure you do so in good faith. Only interview at companies you’d seriously consider joining. It’s a waste of everybody’s time to go into an interview if there’s absolutely no way you’d jump ship.
Interviewing at around a yearly cadence makes sense for me—it’s often enough that my interview skills don’t degrade too much in between, but infrequent enough to not be a huge burden on my time. Despite yearly interviews since graduating, I’ve only changed jobs once —when I joined Ladder almost 4 years ago.