This post is contributed by Stefan Vallentine, Burtch Works’ data science and analytics recruiting expert.
While our recent hiring market research found that data scientists and analytics professionals change jobs about every 2.6 years, this often begs another question: when should you start looking for a new job?
The answer often depends on many factors, but it can be approached from two different angles:
- What reasons might make you consider a job change?
- What timing issues should you consider regarding when to start your search?
Since the “right answer” might be different for everybody, I thought it would be beneficial to explore different options under these two umbrellas rather than giving an exact answer (every 2.6 years, for example) that might not be relevant for everyone.
When Should You Start Looking for a New Job?
1. You feel siloed or stagnant in your current job
2. You continue to tackle the same problems and don’t get the chance to grow your skills
The quantitative fields are moving fast, and if you’re not keeping your skills current, it will be that much harder once you do decide to make a change.
3. You’re stuck using stale tools (or not the tools you’d prefer) and not given the chance to leverage your skills
With more data science and analytics opportunities than ever before, we’re seeing more professionals preferring tools like R and Python, but if your current company isn’t giving you the flexibility to use the tools you want, it might be time to consider a change.
4. You’re unable to see any room for growth in your role (such as a promotion), or not being given opportunities to take on new responsibilities
5. You lay in bed for 2 hours every morning, dreading going to work
You can find something better – I promise!
6. The company culture isn’t compatible with your preferences or work style
Think about whether the company values align with where you’d like to be. Company culture isn’t generally something that will change overnight or if you get a different manager.
7. You want to be pursuing more cutting-edge technology, or maybe transition into a different type of quantitative position
Much like company culture can’t be changed overnight, if a company is wedded to more traditional technologies and tools, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to quickly shift and start using bleeding-edge artificial intelligence technologies without significant buy-in. This doesn’t mean they never will, but it will likely take some time.
Likewise, if you’re interested in transitioning your skills within data science or analytics, you might need to change companies if your current team doesn’t already have those roles established.
8. You’d rather be more in the weeds… or more focused on people management
We’ve pointed out before that moving into management is not necessarily required for high salaries in data science, but also think about what you prefer! Nowadays we generally recommend that managers still remain somewhat hands-on with the data, but checking in with your preferences you might find a job change is in order.
9. You’ve had a life change and are reevaluating your career goals
Had a baby? Want to move to a new city? Finished your PhD? Thinking about your last career change before retirement? Want to be closer to family?
Big changes in your life are a good time to reevaluate whether your current job is still in line with where you want your career (and life) to be. Explaining this to your potential employer/recruiter (as long as the reasoning is sound) can also help you explain if you’re looking to change jobs relatively soon and don’t want to be seen as a job hopper.
10. You want a salary bump!
It’s no secret that data scientists and analytics professionals tend to get stronger pay increases when they change jobs than when they stay at the same company year after year, so if a salary increase is something you’re looking for, and a switch lines up with your career goals, then a job change might be your best option.
Timing Situations to Consider
Of course, even if you want to change jobs, the timing might not be ideal. So when should you start looking for a new job? Here are some situations to keep in mind.
1. Be prepared to move quickly!
Once you start searching, you should be ready to move within 1-2 months. The job search process may end up taking 3-6 months, but since the demand for data scientists and analytics professionals is so high, we’re finding that many employers are moving quickly.
2. Have a bonus that you’re waiting for? Time appropriately.
In line with #1 above, if you’re expecting a bonus that will pay out in December, don’t start looking in September! If you end up finding a role relatively quickly then you may find yourself in a position where you have to turn down an offer to collect your bonus, and you don’t want to unintentionally burn bridges.
3. If you’re considering relocation, is everyone on board?
We recommend having the conversation about relocation before you job search, especially if this will affect your significant other, children, other family, etc.
4. Do you have the time to set aside for a job search?
Working on a big project at work or not able to take any time off for potential interviews? Not all job search activity can take place on weekends, so you may need to consider when you’re able to fit this additional time commitment into your schedule.
5. Are you job hopping?
Although it’s unlikely that you’ll have one job for 15-20 years, you do still want to make sure that you’re still not changing too often. If your past few roles have only lasted 6-12 months, that might raise red flags if you’re going on the market too soon.
There are a lot of things to consider when making a job change, but hopefully the points in this article will give you some cases to think about when evaluating your own career goals. Best of luck in your job search!
I hope this information was helpful! If you’re looking to explore opportunities in data science or analytics, be sure to connect with me (Stefan Vallentine) on LinkedIn.
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