Continuing from [A Gamer’s Primer to the Career Change Meta, Part 2: Why Change Jobs?]
Unlike the binary yes/no decision of whether you should change jobs, the related question with more nuanced answers is always “when should I change jobs?” Obviously, if you lose your job this question is pretty moot - the answer is, predictably, asap This question should actually be broken up into two separate questions because “changing jobs” is not an atomic operation. There are two major parts to the job changing process - the search (which can take an indeterminate amount of time) followed by the transition (which is usually a set amount of time). You can choose to search quietly while not necessarily committing to leaving. I actually suggest doing so, because it gives you a lot more leverage - you can always walk away from an opportunity that doesn’t seem like a good fit for you and your needs. Given the usual process of finding a new job (phone screen, test, on-site/panel/team interview), I would say that a good rule of thumb is to set aside at least two months (or longer, if you are being picky) to conduct the job search, and at least one additional month beyond the search to conduct the job transition.
The number of factors will naturally vary with the individual, but there are a number of questions I’ve observed both coworkers and myself asking and answering when deciding when to start looking. The higher priority questions tend to be:
- Do I need more money to sustain my self/family?
- Have I outleveled my current job and do I still want to level up?
- Are there any personal/family/life reasons I might need to stay with this employer? (e.g. I need an H1B Visa sponsorship)
- Is the time/work commitment at my current job unsustainable from a health perspective?
- Is my employer doing/enabling things I cannot abide? (e.g. the hostile environment issues at ATVI, Riot, Ubisoft, etc.)
- Are there any immediate opportunities at my current employer that can possibly address these issues? (e.g. can I apply internally for a different job opening? Can I transfer to another studio?)
Then there are lower-priority questions to ask yourself that may adjust your calculations somewhat, such as:
- Are there any specific dates that might be worth sticking around for? (e.g. bonuses paid out, stock vesting dates, launch party, etc.)
- Do I care about leaving on good terms? Would I ever consider returning to work for this employer or with former coworkers at some point in the future?
- Will my exit timing affect the terms on which I leave the company? (e.g. would you leave during the busiest beta crunch phase?)
- Is there anything I want to do before I go back to work? (Starting a new job will usually reset banked assets like any vacation time when you start a new job)
Most people who get to choose when to leave will line up a situation that sets up the best results for them - collect on the annual bonus that they’ve earned, avoid burning bridges if they care, give the usual two weeks’ notice, line up a new job start date for a clean transition, and so forth. If you’re considering leaving, you should absolutely think about working the search and transition periods into your calendar for your strategic exit. Planning your exit properly will make a time that often feels chaotic to many a lot easier and keep you feeling normal.
[Join us on Discord] and/or [Support us on Patreon]
The FANTa Project is being rebooted. [What is the FANTa project?]
Got a burning question you want answered?
- Short questions: Ask a Game Dev on Twitter
- Long questions: Ask a Game Dev on Tumblr
- Frequent Questions: The FAQ