How long to stay in first dev job

I started my first junior developer job 13 months ago for a small local agency. I enjoy working for a small organisation and I enjoy some of the work, but the truth is that I’m not particularly happy in this job for a few reasons:

  • A lot of the work is battling with buggy legacy systems that clients can’t be convinced to move away from. There’s really very little enjoyment to be taken from this kind of work (for me at least)

  • A culture in which it is difficult to seek guidance. I like my co-workers and my boss is a good guy who I like as a person but he’d admit that he’s not a patient man. Asking him for assistance on issues which confuse me but are trivial to him is a lottery depending on his mood.

  • PHP - Frankly I suck at PHP (and backend work in general) and a substantial amount of the work I do involves PHP. I’m finding it hard to invest the time in learning PHP properly although I know I should. Ultimately I see my career being that of a frontend dev.

Anyway, all this has led me to wonder how long I’m expected to stay in my first junior job? I feel like I owe this company quite a lot for taking a chance on me but would it be considered acceptable to start looking for other work just over a year after starting here?


Have you had an annual review where you were able to talk to your boss about these issues?

Not yet. I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened yet actually as I’m definitely supposed to have one.

I’m 10 months in my first dev job, also at a a small company doing a lot of php. Fortunately I do like backend and I feel I can seek guidance from peers, although I don’t often. I spend a lot of time trying to figure stuff out myself and if I’m taking too long or I know I won’t be able to figure something out, I ask coworkers.

You should definitely ask for an annual review and bring up your issues during your meeting. If they keep delaying it, it means they know you’re going to ask for a raise, and they’d rather keep paying you a junior salary. If that’s what ends up happening, I wouldn’t feel as loyal to the company. They knew the risk when hiring a junior developer, and they probably pay you less for taking on that risk. They’re not meeting your needs of wanting to grow/learn and/or getting paid fairly, so you should feel okay about finding another job.


You’d be doing them a favor by leaving so they could find someone more suited to the position. Of course find another job first, then give 2 weeks notice.


Thanks for the replies. I guess bringing up these concerns is the first step.

Don’t most jobs require 1 month’s notice? I guess this might depend on country…

In America, I’ve only heard of people giving two weeks notice, but yeah, probably different in other places.

In the USA, most jobs require no notice at all, unless stated in a contract. 2 weeks is merely a courtesy so as not to screw over your employer and burn bridges.

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Note that this is a description of almost every software job. It always looks like it’ll be different: there are obviously different levels of legacy/buggy, but most stuff is buggy legacy systems. Most stuff you will ever work with is deadly boring line-of-business applications.

Otherwise the other two points are good reasons to look for somewhere else (as is the fact you haven’t had a review yet). If someone asks why you want to move in an interview (formal or informal) they’ll totally understand if those are the reasons given. 13 months isn’t long, but it’s long enough to understand where you stand in a company and where you’re likely to be going - yes, you will feel you owe them, but you also have to be selfish here, it’s your life.

EDIT: read this, I wish I’d read it earlier in my career:

So basically almost every job requires notice? There no way on earth an average business is not going to guard against skilled employees leaving with zero notice. Yes, they will try to retain the right to terminate a person without notice for as long as possible (eg keep them in probation), but they’re not going to avoid protecting against the inverse of that. 2 weeks seems low for developers; a month send more sensible, then bump that the more senior they are (3-6 for lead/architect level)

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If you are not finding challenges that you find exciting, are doing a lot of repetitive stuff, or are really interested in what the business is having you work on, it may be time to leave. It is really simple to figure out what you should do.

Are you happy there?

If no, bail.

There’s a couple of pieces to this, really. There’s no law requiring anything. A lot of the US is known as “at will employment”, basically just meaning you work there if you want to work there, and the company keeps you if they want to keep you. But if either change your mind, you can leave or they can fire you (this is for general employment, contracts are entirely different stories). However, most companies write some kind of terms into their policy upon hire. Generally, these terms say something along the lines of “if you leave without X notice, you forfeit your right to us paying accrued sick time/PTO/your last paycheck/whatever we feel like.” But that’s per a company. Some companies have these policies, some don’t. The last company I worked for required 2 weeks or else you would lose those benefits, like a PTO payout. Then if you gave two weeks but missed a day, you still lost that payout. However, the company I’m at now has absolutely no policy. You don’t lose anything if you don’t give notice, you just burn the bridge to ever being hired back. Another example is my wife’s company. They require 3 weeks notice. If you don’t provide this, they blacklist you and you are ineligible for rehire. That’s it. There’s not really more recourse they can take.

So it can be a little complicated, but it really boils down to the individual companies policy.