10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks
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.