It's OK to leave posted on 31 March 2024

Leaving your team and company is not always easy. It’s in general a big decision that will impact the next few years of your career/life but hopefully this post will help you move forward a bit.

  • Albeit all the layoffs, the job market for software engineers is still pretty hot – some companies still pay ridiculous compensation for senior engineers. So switching jobs is fairly common nowadays and well accepted (maybe with the exception of Japan?)
  • The recent-ish layoffs were/are a stark reminder that a job is just a job – companies can let you go without notice if you do not fit in their strategy, so it is fair for you to also leave for a better opportunity.
  • Most engineers leave their manager rather than their company. If you have a bad manager, leaving is the best thing you can do – I had the chance to have amazing managers at Google and they are the reasons why I grew so much there.
  • You may have outgrown your position – maybe your company/team doesn’t have the scope you want for growth. It could also be that you want to grow differently than what your company would like too. The main reason I left Google wasn’t because there weren’t any interesting problems to solve but it was because my growth required me to do things that:

    • I thought were not necessary impactful for Google – there was a misalignment between what was good for me and what was good for the company
    • I was not interested in them. I’m an engineer at heart, I want to solve problems and build things, not play politics and extend my “territory”.
  • Things will be OK after you leave – your team might not be as efficient as it is with you, but they will figure things out. Someone will step up to cover for you. The standard 2 weeks is enough to execute a good hand-off process.
  • Different companies have different cultures so you will likely expand your horizons..
  • Last but not least, it’s OK if you just want to try something different (a different size company, a different industry etc.). Your personal happiness is what matters the most.

If you have the chance to not have a hard timeline (e.g. no visa issue, still in good standings in your current company etc.), take the time to explore things. It personally took me 10 months to join Databricks after deciding to leave Google – I spent a lot of time chatting with recruiters/engineers/founders in different industries (e.g. music, payments, healthcare etc.). This helped me better understand what I was looking for.

What other advice would you give to someone struggling with deciding to leave their company?

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