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Seattle Tech Engineers Are More Loyal Than Those in San Francisco, Data Shows (geekwire.com) 148

An anonymous reader shares a report: Software engineers in Seattle stay at companies an average of six months longer than do their counterparts in San Francisco, according to data from online job search giant Indeed. That may seem like a small difference, but it's actually quite significant when compared to the total time engineers tend to stay with a company. In Seattle, they average 29 months while San Francisco devs stick around for about 23 months. Doug Gray, Indeed's senior vice president of engineering, shared that finding along with other statistics during an event on attracting tech talent, hosted by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning. "That is another thing that we should be promoting here in Seattle, is that greater loyalty, which leads to the ability for someone to have an impact in their company, for them to actually have greater career development within that company," said Gray.Also see: Scraping By On Six Figures? Tech Workers Feel Poor in Silicon Valley's Wealth Bubble
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Seattle Tech Engineers Are More Loyal Than Those in San Francisco, Data Shows

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  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @04:47PM (#54008967) Journal

    And if you live in a small village you'll probably stay int he same job for life. Doesn't mean you're more loyal, it just means you've got fewer choices.

    • yeah I thought this was hilarious spin. this just in: slaves, most loyal employees (and immigrants) of all
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Damn, I've been in this job for 23 YEARS. Guess I'm just not the job-hopping type. Interviewing sucks.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know your job title, but as a technical person, if I didn't change jobs, I would never get a raise. (2% is not a raise, it's not even COLA, and that's the raise a programmer gets if he stays.) Aren't you curious how people at other companies do things?

      • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:07PM (#54009099)

        Aren't you curious how people at other companies do things?

        I find most people who have grown long in the tooth and accepted 2% raises as normal aren't curious about anything.

        • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:11PM (#54009109)
          Sometimes people are satisfied with their job and money isn't their main driver.
          • Sometimes people are satisfied with their job and money isn't their main driver.

            But that shouldn't diminished curiosity. A coworker of mine went bat shit crazy over a new laptop because it didn't have 2.5" hard drive bay, got angry when everyone pointed out the SSD card, and let the laptop sat unused for six months before someone shipped it off to Dell for warranty repair. For the 13+ years he worked in the department, laptop technology has remained the same. The newer laptops are completely different but he doesn't have the curiosity to learn about them..

            • > A coworker of mine went bat shit crazy over a new laptop because it didn't have 2.5" hard drive bay.

              That bay could also hold a spare battery, or a _much_ larger drive than a built-in SSD drive can manage. Many modern laptops also have significantly smaller keyboards, or the durability that some working engineers and sales personnel demand. I'm afraid that often, the feature that you personally may consider a profound advantage is not a benefit to other people's workflow and is not an effective replace

              • That bay could also hold a spare battery, or a _much_ larger drive than a built-in SSD drive can manage.

                There was no drive bay. Not for a hard drive, spare battery or coffee cup holder. The guy took the laptop apart expecting to replace a 2.5" hard drive and he couldn't find the hard drive because there was physically no bay. The SSD was a mini PCI Express card that looked very much like the wireless card without the antenna connections.

                I'd not automatically tie rejection of a new feature with a lack of curiosity, nor with a lack of professional competence.

                Losing your shit in front of the entire department was neither curious nor professional.

                • That is a rather different situation than you originally described. To quote you: "A coworker of mine went bat shit crazy over a new laptop because it didn't have 2.5" hard drive bay". What you seem to be describing is not a "drive bay", which would normally be a detachable bay. It's the primary system drive. Please don't be surprised if people do not understand your outrage over your colleague's outrage when the situation you've described seems to be a very different situation than you experience.

                  What you

                  • What you seem to be describing is not a "drive bay", which would normally be a detachable bay.

                    "A drive bay is a standard-sized area for adding hardware to a computer. Most drive bays are fixed to the inside of a case, but some can be removed."

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_bay [wikipedia.org]

                    What you describe actually makes me wonder if the colleague decided the SSD drive was undersized and expected to be able to upgrade it to a larger spinning drive for very real needs.

                    Most people wouldn't humiliate themselves in front of the entire department for an undersized SSD.

                    • > "A drive bay is a standard-sized area for adding hardware to a computer. Most drive bays are fixed to the inside of a case, but some can be removed."

                      When the words "drive bay" are used in a laptop description, it has typically referred to a detachable physical bay. Wikipedia can be confusing when used to refer to a more or less general description than the specific instance. In this case, Wikipedia referred to the more general usage for desktops and servers as well.

                      > Most people wouldn't humiliate t

                    • Wikipedia can be confusing when used to refer to a more or less general description than the specific instance.

                      The Wikipedia definition is the same definition I've been using since the 1980's.

                      But attempting to do a hardware upgrade to an assigned laptop is not that unusual in groups where developers and admins have modest hardware knowledge.

                      My coworker is the IT supervisor for laptops and wireless devices. His extensive hardware knowledge was lacking on a very new laptop that was quite different than all the laptops he dealt with in the past decade.

                      If they refuse to learn, _that_ becomes frustrating and is grounds to help them find a different career path.

                      This incident took place a year ago. He's still sulking in his cubicle, no longer talking to anyone. All his assistants do the work. Since this is government IT, no one is going to push him out as long as he meet his me

            • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
              Doing the same thing at different companies every few years for more money really isn't "curiosity" in my opinion. In my 13 years with my company, I've worked in 3 different departments and about to move on to a 4th.
        • What does that mean? I accept a 2% annual raise, but I already make a hefty six figure salary that I already feel is too high. And I have been at my company for 15 years, which I assume would make me long in the tooth. What does that have to do with my curiosity? My problem isn't curiosity, but time. I have a backlog of reading on technical topics that is a mile long, but I'm so busy I barely have time to post on Slashdot ;-)

          • I accept a 2% annual raise, but I already make a hefty six figure salary that I already feel is too high.

            I once had a boss who made a big deal over the fact that I got a 2% raise. He got mad when I told him that my first raise was 50% and I've been making more money than him for five years. He had this funny idea that since he got promoted to manager that he was the best in the department. Paycheck wise, he wasn't.

            My problem isn't curiosity, but time.

            Seems like most people I've know stopped learning once they got out of school. The longer they're in one position, the less curious about things they become. It's a real big shock when they get laid

        • by slew ( 2918 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @06:01PM (#54009419)

          Aren't you curious how people at other companies do things?

          I find most people who have grown long in the tooth and accepted 2% raises as normal aren't curious about anything.

          Curious. I find many people that hop jobs every couple years to be not curious enough to deeply learn about anything, and are mostly just greener-grass folks looking to trade some sweat for money.

          Sometimes staying put for a while correlates with a desire to learn something a bit more than superficially. Although trade skills often be practiced anywhere, learning a business and industry enough (to understand how to create value in a business) often takes more than one project cycle and 23 (or 29) months perspective is a pretty short time to see what generates value for customers and what is unimportant... Generally, if you aren't spending VC money, it's better value to companies to have employees know what is important and what is unimportant over the long term. You can only be twice as good as another ditch digger, but good ideas can be 100x better than bad ideas...

          Of course there are companies where little can be learned and there's little reason to stay there at all, and maybe you simply stay there 23 months to make it look like you aren't a job hopper. But that's probably 22 months too long IMHO, as there are generally other fish in the sea...

          • I find many people that hop jobs every couple years to be not curious enough to deeply learn about anything, and are mostly just greener-grass folks looking to trade some sweat for money.

            As an IT support contractor, I specialized in Fortune 500 corporate IT environments. That makes me an interchangeable cog (or virtual ditch digger, as I like to refer to myself). The work is all the same. When I got into government IT, I went from 3,000+ systems on one campus to 80,000+ systems in three time zones. The scale of the work changed but the work itself was the same. (Getting the security clearance was a PITA.) What I need to learn is not for the current job but the next job that I'm planning to

          • Two factors here: 1) Fewer (yet enough) tech employers in the Seattle region but more importantly 2) Employers in the Silly Valley seem to be allergic to any raise at all, even at the COLA level, and one can easily be stuck at the same compensation for 10 years. One [admittedly a jackass who elects to live in Oakland] said "Job hopping is the only way to get ahead in computers".
        • Or maybe the people that stay realize that they have a vesting period before getting additional IRA benefits.

        • After a certain point it's hard to switch jobs and still get a raise. Most places won't hire someone as principal software engineer without them having had the title at the previous job. And to move from senior software engineer to principal usually takes some time in the same company. Not that most people go that route, a lot of folks sit with the same title for the last 20 years of their career. (and I think that fits your statement that they aren't curious about anything)

      • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:11PM (#54009111)

        Aren't you curious how people at other companies do things?

        Not enough to give up my 6 weeks of vacation, institutional memory and senior status as "He Who Knows".

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          The problem is, when you eventually do get laid off (no employer survives forever), you've got nothing. It is possible to gain breadth* and keep your skills current at one employers, but it means changing jobs anyhow, just without changing employers.

          *Depth multiple times is the useful kind of breadth for an engineer.

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            The problem is, when you eventually do get laid off (no employer survives forever), you've got nothing.

            Like those guys who worked for UCal-SF who thought their jobs were secure until replaced by Indians. I do understand.

            For now, though, with my medical condition and ability to telecommute, I'm more than satisfied to still be working for the same company since 1994.

        • "He Who Knows" only about some legacy project that has been round for decades and is full of antiquated technology that most people wouldn't be interested in.
          "He Who Knows" about antiquated technologies that no one is learning any more.

          The prime motivation for many who move on is that they like to work on green field projects, using the latest and greatest of whats available.

          On average I would say 29 months is about the time it takes to get a big green field project off the ground, released and developed to

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            "He Who Knows" only about some legacy project

            I never said -- or even implied -- "only about some legacy project". After all, the legacy projects are going away.

            As a developer

            I'm a DBA.

            most of the time I achieve my goal well within 29 months at which point the project is ready to be handed to over

            I've dealt with so many projects like that, with crappy documentation and pre-beta software, I hate you with every fiber of my being.

          • I would say most of the time I achieve my goal well within 29 months at which point the project is ready to be handed to over to people who would have difficulty putting it together, but have enough skills to ride a mature project through the rest of its life time.

            Maybe it works differently in development. I can say with a great deal of certainty that if you're talking about development then you're talking nonsense. It is orders of magnitude easier to develop something new than to maintain someone else's mess.

            All (experienced) devs have seen the following movie:

            Hotshot devs create something new as per management's instructions. They take every shortcut in the book to produce a product in record time - spaghetti code, no documents, no comments, 12k line functions, no

            • Creating an undocumented system, full of bugs wouldn't qualify as making myself redundant, that would be quite the opposite.

        • "institutional memory"

          Massively underrated IME. Luckily we have a few lifers here but i've lost count of the number of times we have had no idea why something is the way it is or some subtle wrinkle that's non obvious in how something gets processed. People that have years and years of experience often fill in gaps that would otherwise cause big problems.
    • Good for you... I have an average of about 7 years per job myself, but I had some really short stints at a couple of places that went belly up unexpectedly.

      I think a lot of companies count on short term employment, which is unfortunate because what ends up happening is talent keeps shuffling in and out and nobody cares because "that's the way it is". But it actually is better for a company to recognize the good talent and pay them more than average and do what it takes to retain them if you can, otherwise

    • I switched jobs every 1-2 years for over 10 years before I found a place that I liked. Now I've been at the same place for almost 8 years, and have turned down written, official offers. (I got offers because I like interviewing)

      Sometimes I've worked out good raises by switching jobs. Rarely have I had to take a pay cut.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Companies have no loyalty to the employees. Why should employees give them any loyalty?

    • Every once in a great while I run into a hiring manager who demands loyalty and wants reassurances that I will stick around for x number of months. I can make no promises. Especially when another company is willing to pay 40% more for the same kind of work.
      • Dude, make the promises. Don't necessarily keep them.

        • Dude, make the promises. Don't necessarily keep them.

          And ruin my reputation for being a straight shooter?

          • If the promise isn't on paper, what are they going to say? It's not like the can say much to future prospective employers who call to confirm your employment claims beyond confirming your employment dates and saying "Yes, they could be hired back here in the future" or "No, we would never hire them back". (If they do say anything more, they are taking legal risks..)

            It is a small world at times and you would be burring a bridge, but if somebody is willing to pay me 40% more, I think I would have to seriou

          • Use his/her language against him. Remember last time a project schedule shifted under you like an 8.0 earthquake? The words shithead used to tell you, use them to tell him you're not going to be able to keep your promise.

            There is some bridge burning going on. But as long as you already have something better lined up, fuck em.

            • But as long as you already have something better lined up, fuck em.

              I'm always careful about burning bridges. Silicon Valley is a very small village. I sometimes work for the same company on two or three different contracts. One time I worked round robin between three different contracting agencies.

              • As you get closer to career endgame, future prospects are worth less. But on the other hand personal network is more important. On the gripping hand, taking current, good opportunities becomes more important. You don't have decades left to make up for lost time. Stack money now.

                Whatever you do, don't screw over your competent coworkers. That is where good prospects almost always come from.

                PHBs with insane asymmetrical expectations about loyalty? Fuck em right in the ear.

        • No, make the promises, but make them contingent on promises from the hiring manager to "be loyal to the employee" (you).

          Then when you leave and the manager complains, point out that you only promised loyalty if the company was loyal in turn. And by not keeping your salary at market-rate, they broke that promise, so you're not actually breaking yours.

  • Well... yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @04:52PM (#54008997)
    I suspect this says more about San Francisco than about Seattle. Throw some other cities in there.
    • This.
      As a percentage, not many IT folks actually live & work on the Left coast. Might be more interesting if surveyed nationally and reported state-by-state.

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      I suspect this says more about San Francisco than about Seattle. Throw some other cities in there.

      There are .... other cities?

  • A few years ago I ran into a former coworker during a job interview and turned down the job offer. I would be making more money as a contractor than my former coworker did from collecting 2% raises for nine years. The last thing I need is a bitter coworker.
    • It's an ongoing joke that the way you get raises in some places is to leave and come back. I've seen it happen multiple times where the end result was more than %30 markup to do the same job. Coming back as a contractor can net you even more, at the expense of a bit of job security. Fortunately I don't work in a place like that now.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:00PM (#54009053)

    "...stay at companies an average of six months longer...greater loyalty, which leads to the ability for someone to have an impact in their company, for them to actually have greater career development within that company..."

    Greater impact my ass. 6 additional months isn't going to define career development or impact the company in some grandiose way.

    People used to stay at companies for far longer than the 29 months being celebrated here. The turnover rate today is a joke. Then again, so is the fact that employees are no longer treated like people, but instead like commodity resources that can be exchanged as the wind blows.

    • People used to stay at companies for far longer than the 29 months being celebrated here. The turnover rate today is a joke. Then again, so is the fact that employees are no longer treated like people, but instead like commodity resources that can be exchanged as the wind blows.

      After decades of work at a fair number of places I've discovered there are companies who offer jobs (employee=commodity), and some who offer careers (employee=person). Interestingly I landed at one of those Top 50 To Work For companies and never really want to leave as long as the culture remains high on value of the employee. Previously I'd never considered looking at lists like that for where to go but if I ever left here that's where I'd start.

    • Part of the turnover rate is that -- at least in the Silly Valley -- longevity is viewed as a FLAW. I had been at a non-SV company for >15 years, via two acquisitions, and when looking for a new job EVERYONE harassed me about that. When I recast my rez to make it look like 3 jobs, that stopped and I got hired.
  • Insane (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geek ( 5680 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:03PM (#54009069)

    Where I work the average IT person stays 5 to 8 years. Most of my co-workers are 15 year vets. I can't imagine how crappy these places must be if the average is only two years. Hell it can take a year just to get someone comfortable int he environment.

    • I've been on contracts to handle a special project that last a year or two while working with IT people who been around for 8+ years.
    • Re:Insane (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:15PM (#54009129)

      I bet these people are well under age 35.

      • I bet these people are well under age 35.

        I've done short-term IT support contracts that lasted four hours to three years for the last 20+ years. I'm currently 47.

        • by Nutria ( 679911 )

          There's a difference between "short-term contractor" and "job-hopping employee".

          • There's a difference between "short-term contractor" and "job-hopping employee".

            Oh, really? Please elaborate.

            • by Nutria ( 679911 )

              Oh, really?

              Sure.

              Please elaborate.

              You must know the difference between "guy who gets a 1099, has a fixed-length contract because he's not an employee of the company, and thus can be fired on a whim" and "guy who gets a W-2 because he's actually an employee, and thus requires lots of HR paperwork to be fired".

              • You must know the difference between "guy who gets a 1099, has a fixed-length contract because he's not an employee of the company, and thus can be fired on a whim" and "guy who gets a W-2 because he's actually an employee, and thus requires lots of HR paperwork to be fired".

                I've never done a 1099 in my 20+ year career. Always W2. I either work directly for the company or through a contracting agency. The HR paperwork is all the same.

                • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                  I either work directly for the company

                  You know that's not contracting.

                  or through a contracting agency.

                  Why are you arguing about your situation, when I wrote about San Francisco start-ups?

                  • I either work directly for the company

                    You know that's not contracting.

                    I know you don't know squat about contracting, especially in Silicon Valley.

                    or through a contracting agency.

                    Why are you arguing about your situation, when I wrote about San Francisco start-ups?

                    Been there, done that.

    • The main problem is that if you want a decent raise, you either need to quit, or threaten to quit. Otherwise your raise will be a token 3-5%. I have quit jobs that I otherwise would have stayed at because of that.
  • Perhaps this entire difference could be explained by the rate of workers leaving these cities, which is in turn mostly caused by cost of living issues? San Francisco, and the Bay Area generally, is ferociously expensive. And that effect is magnified once one reaches the age of having children.

  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @08:13PM (#54010041) Journal

    the tech companies to the employees? Do they kick you to the curb when the stock drops $2? When you hit your 35th or 40th birthday? Do they collude with other companies to limit your pay and benefits? Will they hire you if your skin is brown? If you are female?

    We keep seeing reports on things like worker loyalty but why don't we see the same on company to employee loyalty?

    • So much this...

      When my career started the VP knew *every* employee in the building. We had 5 discretionary holidays a year, on top of the 10 Federal holidays. Vacation accrual started at ~2 weeks a year and maxed somewhere around 6 weeks. There was a 401k plan AND a pension plan, the former you were fully vested in from day 1.
      By the time I left that job, no discretionary holidays, vacation accrual started at ~1.5 weeks, and maxed out around 4 weeks. Those gray-beards that had been around for 15+ yea

    • One reason is that they want to hire contractors instead, so that they can abuse and fire them at will, not pay benefits, and skirt employment laws.
  • "Software engineers in Seattle stay at companies an average of six months longer than do their counterparts in San Francisco"

    Six whole months, well I'll be gobsmacked. I've spent longer than that fucking up a single document.

    Good lord, do they swear an oath of fealty to display such unwavering allegiance and faithfulness?

  • Even 29 months seems quite short. How much is the median project time to market?
    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Data I had from HR department at various companies I looked into as part of recruitment initiatives looked more like 12-18 months in SF, 20-24 elsewhere, so that actually looks long to me. Part of it is all of the tiny VC based startups and ycombinator things messing with the average as people keep jumping around hoping to make it big.

      That said, in the current world of MVPs where the V is borderline at best, 29 months is enough time to push several products to market, heh.

  • I'm a San Francisco Engineer who is just about to celebrate 15 years at my current job with a major tech company. Prior to this I was at a small tech company for nine years. On the other hand, I'm OLD and would hate to look for work right now, regardless of my resume or contacts.
  • They left out a critical detail: is this by the employee's choice or the company's? Are they less likely to choose to leave, or less likely to get laid off? If it's the employee's choice, is it because people like their jobs better, or because they have fewer other options?

    Without knowing that, I can't tell if this makes Seattle a better or worse place to work. Not getting laid off is good. Liking your job is good. Having few options is bad. In any case, I doubt it has much to do with loyalty.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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