10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks

By Troy Hadley on 1 May 2007 (Updated 9 February 2010) 29 comments
Photo: Martin

I appreciated Sarah's post today about determining the positive aspects of a work environment. You should read that post before you read this one.

As someone who has had to make the decision to leave more than one lousy job, here's my counterpoint top 10: how to know when to leave. I don't take the decision to quit lightly, and I don't think anyone should. See if the problems can be fixed first.

Some of my advice here involves big ideas (Ask for a raise!) that should not be undertaken lightly. Research tactics first before acting.

1. You dread coming to work in the morning.

You wake up and want to cry yourself back to sleep. This ONLY happens on the days you work, and didn't happen with other jobs you've held.

Fix?: Ask yourself if there was anything else that you could be doing at the same company that wouldn't suck so much. Staying with one company can be good for your career, but sometimes you need to change responsibilities to alleviate boredom.

2. You are putting lots of energy into the job, but not making the kind of project and/or overall progress that you feel is reasonable.

Fix?: Ask yourself if you are putting energy into the right areas. Are you spending all of your time arranging meetings and conference calls and not able to put your all into the actual work? Unless you are a project manager, arranging people-to-people face time can take up lot precious work time. Can someone else handle that for you? If your company can't provide reasonable support, you might want to look for one that can.

3. You are putting no energy into the job because doing so makes you want to stab your eyes out with a sharpened number 2 pencil.

Fix?: Put down the pencil. If you hate the job with the passion of a thousand burning suns, ask yourself why, honestly answer yourself, and find a job in which the same problem can not occur.

4. Your lunch break is spent bitching to your coworkers about how much you hate being where you are.

This is a really bad sign, even if you are being goaded into disliking the work even more by listening to other department's woes.

Fix?: Stop bitching to your coworkers. Change the subject, talk about positive things. Listen to people, but give NOTHING away, especially when it comes to criticizing your boss or peers. Word gets around. Shut yer trap.

5. Your boss irrationally hates you.

This happens sometimes - some people feel that their bosses hate them when their bosses are merely being, you know, bossy.

My first job straight out of college was for a company that did a lot of field sales and merchandising. It so happened that the head of my department was out on maternity leave when I was hired. I was in charge of managing dozens of sales accounts from around the country. The system that was in place was really archaic, and I was working weekends just to keep up with the demands of the sales people.

When the department head returned to work after about 3 months, I could tell from the second we met that she had it in for me. Nothing I did was right, no amount of work was enough. While receiving rave reviews from coworkers and other supervisors, I could tell that this particular boss was going to wear them down with her constant complaining about my work.

I gave my two weeks notice 48 hours after she returned to work, paving the way for her to hire her nephew for my position. She was elated. Such is life.

Fix?: Politely quit, or if you have the time, let them fire you and sue the pants off of them.

6. You've bounced laterally around the company for years without a promotion.

Fix?: Have you gained any skills during your career mambo around the corporation? Think about it - do you really bring valuable skills to the table? Are you unfairly being denied a promotion, or do you work for an industry (government, civil service) in which it's damn near impossible to fire you? If you think you're worth it, you often have to ask for a promotion. Make a list of everything that you have done to make your workplace better. If it's not much of a list, put your nose to the grindstone.

7. You're not being given what you were promised.

When you first started working, did they tell you that they had an educational fund for employees that seems to have disappeared? Did that 401K never materialize? Are other employees sensing that they were sold a fantasy job, too? During the dotcom boom, it was really common for companies to more or less offer to pay for your MBA as long as you kept working with them - then they blew their cash on limo trips to the vineyards and off-site gatherings for the sales team in Vail.

Fix?: If you had a goal in mind for this job, but the job is keeping you from the goal, consider finding something better. If you can achieve the goals on your own, such as taking night classes to earn that extra degree or certificate, then do it on your own and find a better job with your newfound skills.

8. You've slept with one, or more, of your coworkers and things ended badly.

First of all, don't do this. But if you do, get out while the gettin's good.

Fix?: Apologize if you can. Try to set things right if you've wronged them.

9. There's this exiled Nigerian businessman's widow who's wiring you a bunch of money, and you get to keep a few hundred thousand.

Seriously, you should quit your job and move to Canada if this happens.

10. You're making the same amount of money that you were when you first started working for the company. Five years ago.

Fix?: Ask for a raise. Even if you are doing the same work, as long as you are a valuable employee, you should be eligible for some kind of raise.

11. You've just found a better deal.

Better pay is nice, but really fun jobs don't always pay well. The high-paying jobs are often the most tedious, so money alone isn't everything. My buddy Richard finally left his little non-profit job because he wanted to make some real money, but it was an all-around good decision. And I mean, for everyone. Richard wanted to be the manager of his team, and his team hated his pushy leadership style. So finding another position was a win-win - he gets more money and more leadership potential, and his old team can breathe a sigh of relief and go back to smoking pot on their lunch breaks.

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Guest's picture
Jim Loves Pam

Your post is wonderful & Number 1 is dead-on.

Guest's picture
Samantha

Great post Troy. I actually read first Sarah's post that is about getting what you want to work, impressing your boss...

My opinion is, if you're not happy anymore with your career, try looking for some new things, new lifestyle. Not just looking for new job in new company. Ask yourself what you really want, what's your passion. If you will know, then try pursuing it.

I would like also to share this:

http://davidseah.com/archives/2007/04/18/a-review-of-tim-ferriss-the-4-h...
It's a review of the book "The 4-Hour Work Week". This is very interesting and informative. You can also buy this at http://snipurl.com/1ilc1.

Hope this can help.

Best Regards,
Samantha

Guest's picture
Tara

Although this post was created with long term jobs in mind, I'm currently in university and was deliberating whether to leave or stay in my part time job when I stumbled across this. It really helped make the decision, thanks.

Guest's picture
matt

my job sucks!!! although i am really good at it and promotions have often come my way for an 18 year old its just to much B/S to be dealing with for a 50C raise so although i am better trained then most higher ups, is still like to smoke pot haha!
i know it has not much to do with it but i just figure i should point out you can still be one of the bests worker while enjoying simple thing like ganja ;-)

Guest's picture
Guest

No time for me or my family. Job 1 Family 2nd, don't think so, but age working against me 53. Job requires traveling doing hydraulic service work. Feel trapped, electrician by trade, but no one paying for it anymore. Being skilled doesn't mean as much as it used to.

Guest's picture
Kiran

For few of the above, a long vacation can help you win your job back

Guest's picture
Guest

Wonderful post Troy! I currently have many of these feelings at my current job and have been actively looking for a career change. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind and continue to do what we are doing at a job that we despise. I think one reason is because it is a comfort zone and another because most of us don't really know what we want. Either way sometimes we just need to sit back and get an overall view of how things really are and just do what it takes to get our butts in gear to do something about it. Easier said than done though - I know. Remember the definition of insanity - "doing the same thing over and over expecting different results." I'm working on a website that will allow us to go whine about our jobs and will be both comical and serious - should be a lot of fun and I will need much input to tweak when it goes live. Bookmark it and check back from time to time to see when it launches. Good luck everybody!

http://www.workwhine.com
"Because We Care That Your Job Sucks!"

Guest's picture
Guest

This is a site I found which lets employees blow off steam when they have a bad day. It allows you to battle against others. It's very new and looks like it's going to become pretty huge! Check it out and post some crap about customers your fellow employees or customers that you have to deal with.

http://www.cistam.com
"Can I Speak to a Manager?"

Guest's picture
Guest

You think your job and life suck. Read this guy's blog http://myjobsucksbigtime.blogspot.com/

Guest's picture
Johnny

I am on call 24/7. I'm the project manager. No time for my fiance' and I just saw my mom today for the first time in almost a month. I'm writing this because I was getting ready to walk out the door for dinner(first date in over 6 months) and got an emergency call and will probably be working till about 4am. I am the best at my job. Does that make up for it? It kinda helps to vent...

Guest's picture
Guest

MY JOBS SUCKS and you should go to this blog and tell people why your job sucks. http://myjobsucksbigtime.blogspot.com/

Guest's picture

As someone who 'escaped' 14 years of sweating blood and tears in investment banking, I LOVE this post! Point #11 is spot on - money isn't everything, and when you spent the time and energy creating a career you love then all of a sudden your priorities shift - or at least they did for me! I spend my time now helping other people 'escape' just like I did, and I can't recommend it enough!

Guest's picture
Babinka Dice

Help, I hate insurance and need to escape! I wake up with a feeling of suffocation every morning. I feel as if my mind is turning into a pile of sea salt. From the monotony of the work to the stale pale coloring of my cubicle, there seems to be no purpose to my existence within this industry. I NEED A CHANGE! First step, after 10 years and several lateral moves, time to QUIT. Second step, take some of my savings and travel abroad for about a month. Both fresh air and some cultural perspective should be able to shore up some passion in my life.

Adios Insurance!

Guest's picture
Guest

These blogs are becoming my therapy. I was a victim of #5. I was with the company for nearly two years yet the first week on the job I got the biggest hint of my life that the decision to go to this company was a bad one. One of the partners told me that he had voted against hiring me but lost out to the other two. Coincidentally, the other two partners worked out of satellite offices so I was stuck with this guy with no buffer.
He hired his buddy six months later - they hang out all the time and guess who got the plum territory. Regardless, the buddy is a nice enough guy, but I would rather someone just tell me they don't want me around - we can part ways as friends and we can make life easier for each other.
Still, this sucks. I am looking for work, been on numerous interviews and gotten close but no cigar just yet. I really need help - if anyone has any advice, I am listening.

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Guest

Hang in there. Something good will happen for you!

Guest's picture
Sylvia

You're a bunch of idiots.  Jobs are slavery and that's that.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sylvia apparently replying from her ivory tower.

Guest's picture

Man, good advice. I hate my job but after reading the list I might have to make some mental changes before anything else. Every job over time can start to wear on you. I been with the same company now like 8 years so I really need to take a step back and not let it get to me as much.

Guest's picture
Guest

No fixes here, but a lot of people venting about crappy jobs, coworkers, etc...

http://www.cryfromthecubicles.com/list/fresh-and-popular

"Sometimes I feel like I work with a bunch of idiots. Then I go to work... confirmed."

Guest's picture
Allen

I pretty much agree with every point. I'm so glad I've gone from the corporal world to the Internet Marketing world. So potential without the depressing, non-rewarding daily jobs.

Guest's picture
Guest

When I started my job, it was great but soon found out that looks can be deceiving. The company won't allot time enough to get anything done, there are so many policies in place that the job can be done as efficiently as pigs fly, and the new manager is such a type A nervous wreck she can't function (and she had the nerve to say that I seem stressed over the number of customers I provide customer servbice to). I sort of feel sorry for her as she MUST be overwhelmed with her hands tied and so much work to get done...for only about 5 seconds since she treated me like crap when I asked her why I was getting the COLD SHOULDER.
After reading the 10 reasons to stay VS. the 10 reasons that I KNOW my jobs sucks, I have to say that MY JOB, MY CO-WORKERS, and MY MANAGER SUCK and I want out. Now how do I get them to fire me without making myself look really bad to future employers? LOL

Guest's picture
Guest Jay

I dislike my job sooooo much. I choose not to use the world hate because it's such a strong word, and I will keep this some what positive. But I deal with the highest volume of the most annoying people God has put on this great green earth. I could go on and on but I made this video just so that people could get an idea of what it's truly like. Cause other wise I don't think you would believe me. Leave a comment and let me know what you think and if you job is worse than this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro4B2wSWxc0

Guest's picture
Guest

I did collections in college; didn't even last three weeks. It's actually like that! One of those things where it's funny because it's true.

Guest's picture
Lynn

I haven't slept with a coworker, but everything else applies. I have worked the same job that I hate for 23 years, for a boss who hates my guts and tells me so on a daily basis. A good day is when I cry less than three times. I haven't had a raise since 2003, or a vacation since 2001. I haven't even had a three day weekend in over two years. The nature of the work is dull, repetitive, and tedious, and I'm not even good at it. Every time I take one of those career-counselor type quizzes, it returns my actual job title as the worst possible job for my personality type and skill set.

Unfortunately, this is a family business, and I am stuck for life. Any suggestions?

Guest's picture
Benjamin

Oh boy. I fall under a few too many of those categories. I'm just tired of feeling like there must be something better out there only to find that all job descriptions in my industry sound the same.

Guest's picture
Big D

Number 11 is a great idea!

Guest's picture
Guest

work sucks. most of your money goes to taxes. you're left with barely enough to live on.

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Guest

Point no 8 got me real good. only if i read tis masterpiece earlier.

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charlene karras

Ive had at least 30 jobs, and they all suck, I hate jobs period, there all stupid. if anybody can find me a job Id actually love tell me, because I give up.