I hate my job, version 34A
October 3, 2007 6:01 AM   Subscribe

How can I decide whether to quit my job?

I got my current job right out of school, and was very excited about it. It's been about a year now and my ambition and enthusiasm has bled away entirely. I hate working in a hugely corporate environment with constant budget crunches. My co-workers and boss are awesome and I kill a lot of time talking to them, but that's only so good a distraction. For the past few weeks I have done pretty much no work except for putting out fires, and it's starting to catch up to me. I have a meeting with my boss today, and I'm trying to figure out what to do.

What I really want to do is quit. I'm afraid that I will leave this job and not be able to find a better one. I also know that it's a fantastically bad idea to quit a job while you don't have another one lined up, although I do have enough in my savings account to live without income for a couple of months. I've been in this position for months, paralyzed with indecision.

How can I convince myself to either give it my all at this job, which I was pretty good at back when I cared about it, or cut the strings and find something better?
posted by yomimono to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
All jobs have ebbs and flows as to how much it sucks and how much you like it. You have 40+ more years of working. You will NOT enjoy all 40 years no matter what job you have. At least at this job you like your boss and co-workers enought o kill time with them. Hang in there until you have something GOOD lined up.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:07 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

That's rough. I was in that situation before with *my* first job, but they laid me off before I could quit.

How about asking your boss to assign something to you that's a challenge that you're interested in?
posted by SpecialK at 6:07 AM on October 3, 2007

I agree with Johnny Gunn. They say it's always easier to find a job if you're already employed. Strangely enough, it seems to be true. Stick with your job -- and DO your job, so you can have a good reference -- until you find what you're looking for.
posted by theantikitty at 6:18 AM on October 3, 2007

It's usually easier to find another job while currently employed. People who quit their last job without another job lined up can appear to be irresponsible, misfits, or all manner of not so good things. It doesn't matter whether any of that is true, it all comes down to appearances. You can get over that, but might not even be given the interview in which to do it. On the other hand it is better to quit a miserable job before you are fired or it sucks away your soul. If you have a good boss, it probably pays to be honest with them about your current ennui and perhaps they can help make things better at work. Good luck.
posted by caddis at 6:24 AM on October 3, 2007

Almost on merit of this being your first out-of-school job alone, I'd say move on. You don't want to have ever only done just one job. That's boring. Wander the job market a little, try on another one and see how it feels.

One caveat; having co-workers you acctually like is kind of rare, in my experience. But having a job that allows you to develop as a person and a professional shouldn't be. That's kind of the ideal, isn't it; working at a job that allows you to grow and progress while you earn money?

I'd say start snooping around for something better. once you have it, bail; but bail nicely. Try not to burn any bridges.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:25 AM on October 3, 2007

I concur with caddis. My recent job search was made much more difficult because I looked flakey on paper--three jobs in my first three years out of college (granted, two of those were within the same big company). If I had just sucked it up and put up with another six months at the second job, I wouldn't have had any problems in my subsequent job search. For entirely arbitrary reasons, quitting after one year scares prospective employers while quitting after two years appears to be just fine. It could be different in your industry, but that is my sense of things.

I think you should stick it out a few more months, and maybe even attempt to rectify things in the meantime as caddis suggests*, and then start looking for a new job. By the time you start interviews, you'll be closer to that magical two year mark and I predict the process will go much more smoothly.

* Note: this attempt (and presumed failure to fix the situation) will give you a nice solid story to give to new employers during interviews.
posted by mullacc at 6:53 AM on October 3, 2007

I'm on my third job since graduating in 2003 - 1.5 years at the first, 2 years at the second, and now almost a year here. I've had no career issues or repurcussions as a result of changing jobs.

I say quit if you think your 2nd job will be different in some substantial way - going from a big corporate job to a startup, for example, or changing industries. You kind of get a free pass on your first job, in my experience, as long as you have constructive things to say in interviews: "This first job wasn't for me due to X, Y and Z, but I think this company is a better fit because of A and B." If you're just moving between companies/environments that are more or less the same, however, you should probably stay.

And 2nding everyone who's mentioned that having co-workers you like is half the battle.
posted by rachelv at 7:25 AM on October 3, 2007

What is the problem with looking for another job while you're still working there?
posted by Skyanth at 7:25 AM on October 3, 2007

I think the "having a job to get a job" entirely depends on the person and situation. I quit my first job out of college exactly one year after I started, then designed costumes for around six months on my own, and then got my dream job no prob. I had something interesting to say for my time away, and I think that's all they were looking for.
posted by Eringatang at 7:32 AM on October 3, 2007

I was in a situation where I felt burned out at work. I found just committing to the idea of finding a new job and taking real, concrete steps in that direction enormously helpful in keeping my spirits up so I could do my current job while looking for something better.

It enabled me to really take my time and find the right job and the right place. And I did. I'm much, much happier -- and my former employer had no reason to gripe about me when I left.
posted by driley at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2007

I am not saying you are doomed to work at a job you hate forever, but it might be worth, like others mentioned, talking to your boss to see how you can maybe change your focus, or what other opportunities might be open in the company.

At the very least, I think it helps to stick it out for at least a couple of years because it looks good on your resume. It's called "paying your dues" and it sucks, but in the long run it helps.
posted by mckenney at 7:57 AM on October 3, 2007

My dad and I were in the car and we were talking about my unhappiness with my job at the time. He told me, "It's easier to find a horse, on a another horse."

After I got over my hysterics of my Chinese dad giving me a proverb, I realized that it was a brilliant piece of advice.

Stay on your horse, work on finding another horse.
posted by spec80 at 7:58 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Every situation is unique but what is not is unique is that its 10x harder to get a job when you dont have one. What you should do is relax and just go job hunting. Take the first offer you feel comfortable with.

Honestly, you dont list any reason why quitting is a good idea. What makes you think some other job is going to be any better?
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:18 AM on October 3, 2007

I think it's only natural to start to slack at work when you feel burned out. You're not doing your best work, and then it starts to show, and then you get "the talk" -- or reprimanded, or people start to subtly seem like they're losing respect for you...

So then you become even less motivated and slack off more, and the cycle gets worse. Then, you just want to quit, because it's pretty soul-sucking.

My advice to you is what others are saying, keep your current job and start looking for a new one.

In the meantime, though, I would suggest that you roll up your sleeves and try to become engaged in your work again. Realize that you've felt defeated, that you've been slacking and lost some mental energy, and just forgive yourself for it and move on.

Do it today. Put together a to-do list this morning, put the easiest, quickest stuff at the top, and resolve not to procrastinate or chat. You will probably feel a little better and notice a difference immediately -- and you will feel more prepared for your meeting with your boss.

And then start sending out resumes!
posted by pazazygeek at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

You have two things to do:
1. Commit to finding yourself a new job while staying at your current job.
2. Making your current job more tolerable.

I'll focus on the latter point. Ask to talk with your boss. Tell him that you're not feeling as productive as you normal do, and if your boss can give you a hand. Depending on your situation, ask about either getting new work, getting more focus in your current work, or just plain mixing it up.

Doing this will accomplish a few things: it will give you a slightly new focus that will keep you going for a week or two, a month if you're lucky (I'm being honest here), that gives you some time to look for a new job. It will also make your boss feel good because his employees are able to talk/confide in him and he's able to take action on it. In no way does it show your hand to your boss, but when the time comes where you do leave, at least it won't come as an entire shock.

Ultimately, if the job is so miserable that it is killing you, then all of this advice is moot, get out of there as soon as possible, but most of the time it's better to do what I mentioned above.
posted by furtive at 8:42 AM on October 3, 2007

I have done pretty much no work except for putting out fires

This kind of work is stressful, and it sucks, but doing it well will give you career-long credibility in the eyes of your peers and bosses. Can you give it a couple of years such that when you leave, it will be a natural progression to something bigger and better? You'll be armed with great references and you build bridges instead of burn them.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:54 AM on October 3, 2007

What I really want to do is quit.

And do what, exactly? Watching "The Price is Right" and eating potato chips everyday is not good for ones' resume (or waistline or social skills, but that's another story). Do not run from this job just because it is hard, boring, soul-sucking, etc. As JohnnyGunn said, work isn't always fun. Do not quit without another job lined up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Back in the 90s I was in your situation, except I didn't really like my boss. I was not getting any opportunities for growth and I got fed up.

I did quit without something else lined up. I ended up freelancing for about 3 months and then lined up another job. I left that one a couple years later (after my original employer got bought out by an accounting company) when I fed up again, but that time I had a job lined up when I jumped.

The latter technique was certainly less stressful, but if you're at the end of your rope, quitting isn't necessarily the wrong thing. However, you actually like the people you're working with. That can make a big difference.

Can you talk to your boss about this safely and then start looking for work elsewhere?
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:33 AM on October 3, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, all.

I came totally clean with my boss, and she agreed to get me off the horrible project I've been "working" on and assign me to something more suited to my strengths. I didn't think that this would be at all possible, and was very pleasantly surprised. She said she'd give me a good reference if I did decide to leave. Then she bought me lunch.

I'll be staying for a while.
posted by yomimono at 4:18 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

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