IT Employment

When is it just time to walk away from a job?

How do you know when it's time to just cut bait and run from a job? Two regular TechRepublic contributors share their stories.

It's a hard decision to make, especially in this economy: choosing to walk away from your job. The fear of the unknown and the need for economic security can make people stay in a bad job far longer than is healthy.

So when do you know that you've gotten to the point where you have to walk away from your job? I asked two of TechRepublic's contributors to share their personal experiences on the topic.

First up is Scott Robinson:

It wasn't unfulfilled promises to me; it was unfulfilled promises to the enterprise.

They had sat me down, as I was coming in, and told me stories of their too-rapid growth, of silo'd systems, and of the growing need for shared resources and global access to content. "We need to build a true enterprise architecture," and they wanted me to be a part of it. Music to my ears!

But that was the worthy (and much-needed) vision of only a select few. It was only a vague pipe dream to the CIO, and it hadn't even been discussed by governance, and the culture change required to bring the lines-of-business and department heads on board was still far off. I wasn't there to build it better; I was there to prop up what was sitting there and to give things a progressive appearance.

So I stayed for a while, hoping the winds would change. But the department heads were more interested in their silo'd legacies than sharing their resources, and there was no real money set aside for growth and rebuilding in any case.

I finally moved on, to an enterprise that was more invested in really being an enterprise.

Second, we hear from Scott Lowe:

In many ways, I was in an extremely fortunate situation. For a long time, things were very, very good. However, things change. I eventually found myself in a full-time position that had become seriously imbalanced, and organizational culture and company financial challenges led me to the conclusion that success was not going to be forthcoming in the foreseeable future despite all my attempts to the contrary.

Expectations and reality were significantly out of alignment, and stress levels across the organization were off the charts with no relief in sight. I can handle stress -- and a lot of it -- but stress with no foreseeable goal attainment is something else altogether, and it was affecting everything I did both at work and at home. You may wonder how that makes me "fortunate"!

Well, over the past eleven years, I've built up a substantial side business and a positive reputation that was not linked to my full-time employer. You've seen much of that work here at TechRepublic, but I've also established myself as a computer-based training instructor for TrainSignal and as an independent technology consultant.

For TrainSignal, I've created a number of courses, and in my consulting business, I've performed top-to-bottom technology operational assessments and infrastructure assessments and done more traditional consulting work, such as implementing Exchange, for example.

So, I made a decision to leave my full-time job and work independently while I figure out what's next. I'll be the first to admit that having this opportunity is a rare luxury, but so far, business is booming and I couldn't be happier. I will also admit that I'm keeping my eyes open for that next full-time CIO gig, but for now, life is good and I'm learning how to relax once in a while!

So for those of you reading this, can you share your experiences with finally coming to the point of no return with a job and what happened when you left?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

70 comments
Host.co.in
Host.co.in

The only advice I have for you is never lift your second foot before you place your first one in another ship. I hope you understood, what I want to say.

jcitron
jcitron

I think it's a big part of our nature to help out. As support people, we aim to please, take credit for putting out the fires, and quite often get asked to help out on projects. The problem is we also tend not to say no, so management see this as an opportunity to take advantage of us because they see us as fee labor that doesn't impact their budget. So it's time to say no, I can't do it. You have to be nice about it, and explain to the people that there are just so many hours in the day that you can work. Putting in the addition hours, does no good for you, and only makes people want to pile on more projects. Believe me, I'm saying this from experience. You need to push back and slow down otherwise it will get to you.

jriedel99
jriedel99

I was an IT Manager at a Japanese automotive manufacturing company. The job was manageable, the people good to work with and work for, and the pay was adequate. I had been there for 6 years when I heard about Toyota starting up a plant in another state. I had always wanted to be part of a startup. Build the IT department and infrastructure from the ground up. I applied, and was offered the job. For two months I traveled to a "sister plant" in Michigan to work on the servers, train the users that had been hired, and learn the system our sister company was using. That was my first indication that this wasn't what I was told... we were copying the systems that were home-grown, unsupported, and constantly changing... yikes. But, I stuck with it. The production facility was up and running in time, and we were off. After a few months, the one person that worked for me quit. That left me with all the infrastructure, desktop support, projects, ERP system, data analysis, and the list goes on. It took 9 months for the Japanese President to approve one of my applicants. Less than two years later, that person also quit. Another year went by with me doing everything because the company wouldn't pay enough to hire a qualified candidate. They eventually required me to "hire from within" and train that person. My personal life changed during this time, and it got to the point where I was ready to move back closer to home. I took advantage of the downturn in the economy and did just that. Best decision I ever made.

reisen55
reisen55

I posted about my experience with a NY Hospital chain. During my transition time as noted above, I also worked for a large Westchester school district, which was fun but the students were getting way tooooo smart. I had to do things on Novell server account lockdowns that i have never had to do anywhere else EVER again. Later as an Independent Consultant, I have worked for some truly strange contracts and places, not really jobs. Just weird. But the NYCity Hospital chain was THE WORST. I dreaded getting onto the train every morning.

rhonin
rhonin

In house lead for a regional ERP implementation where all business processes are majorly silo'd. The project isin response to a government regulatory smack down. and understaffed by the business... :O

abby65
abby65

It is time to start looking, it is not going to change and it will only get worse. Once they win over the foolish management it will operate in 2 ways. 1. You will have to clean up the 'experts' messes. 2. You will be vilified for voicing your thoughts on the situation. (this goes back to the cross-training debacle) It is of no use to say anything as it will just make you look bad and start updating your resume to see what else is available.

abby65
abby65

It is just baffling that this 'cross-training' mentality is still being chased to no end. The fact is when someone is nothing more than a brown noser looking for a chance to kiss up it is such a waste of time. I worked at a big mega IT corp and it was the biggest waste of time, so someone who has never vested any interest in furthering their education, opened a book is going to learn how to work with open systems. The genius management is still chasing this WASTE of time, if working in IT was just someone telling you to type a command or push a button then ALL of it would be sent to India overnight. One of my favorites is how someone will start doing programming from going to a class, so basically they will get extra brownie points and sit there surfing the web and chatting on instant messengers. Others like myself have more pressure put on them, meanwhile the brown nose expert looks like he is so smart and stepping up. Management is responsible for the sinking hole and trying to do the power vacuum grab of being a big shot in the lime light. The only problem with seeking the lime light is one day you can be the brown nosing king and the next day someone else will steal the lime light through the same underhanded, back stabbing techniques. It is time to move on when the power vacuum and brown nosing is reining supreme over hard work it will never change.

&ltDTECH;
&ltDTECH;

I am DTECH, u know that, anyway you would never believe when i tell u that i am working at a government firm in Guyana that has alot of systems and not even one IT staff, we are not running a large scale network or anything like that but come on, they really need to get things goin. LOOKING FOWARD FOR ANY ADVICE????

Darrell.Kirby
Darrell.Kirby

I was working for a government entity for 10 years. It was a stable position and comfortable. However, I am someone who has goals and wishes to achieve by doing. I finished my Masters degree in MIS and I went to additional training to receive certifications. I also was selected to attend a leadership program for the organization. No matter what I did my position or title never changed. I was given extra responsibility as a Project Manager but I was told that my salary or title would not change due to the budget. Mean while, I see other people being promoted in various areas. Cuts to salaries came and people complained and morale was down. I decided that enough was enough. Sure, I was fearful of changing jobs due to the economic times but I knew I had to make a change in order to change my situation. I accepted an opportunity at a company in a Management role. A little more stress but so far so good. Sometimes you just have to take action instead of accepting your situation.

lisa_work_aws
lisa_work_aws

I've found when I'd rather go to the dentist than go to work, it's time to look for a new job. BTW - How do you know when it???s time to just cut bait and run from a job? Sorry, but that doesn't make sense. It shouldl be 'cut and run' or the proper expression: 'Fish or cut bait' -- in other words, make a choice.

DFO_REXX
DFO_REXX

Just after Y2K the health insurance system I supported was replaced (over time) by a different system owned by a different company. The new company made it clear I would not be needed to support the new system, so I started looking elsewhere within the company for other positions. At the time, this company required one to "move to where the work is." Since I could not relocate, I had no choice but to look elsewhere. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I moved from a dysfunctional and static organization into an organization which was also dysfunctional, but looking for new blood to help it change, grow, and become more efficient. This opportunity gave me a chance to shine and to grow as a professional. So, while there was some pain at doing my first career move "by choice," the result was a jump start to a better career.

maj37
maj37

I am sorry but "cut bait and run" is a phrase I have never heard. I have heard "cut and run", and I have heard "fish or cut bait" but never the mixture you used.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

When the company wants you to alter your ethics to suit their ends and not the customers. So you are asked to tell them that they need something new to fix the problem that they have, when all that will happen is that the problem continues and you are supposed to tell them it's just them that is having issues. So over all Microsoft is a perfect example of what Not to Do. ;) Col

hazmoid43
hazmoid43

Occasionally bitched about the users, but really was a good gig, until GFC caused downsizing. Unfortunately I was one of the ones downsized, but actually feel I got the best deal ( long service and vacation leave plus 12 weeks termination and 5 weeks in lieu of notice.) Feel sorry for remaining staff who will have to put up with trying to do same work with less people.

jkameleon
jkameleon

... when you get a better offer. Very uncommon in this rotten economy :(

bo123gus456
bo123gus456

I work for a former #1 car company in the world. U'd think !! The segregation of contractors and permanent/full time employees is evidently enough that company wide emails about contribution to the local charity has to have '..full time and contractors' in the heading!! Emails aside.. roles and responsibilities are undefined, let alone vague. Passing the buck is game of day ..everyday.... I can go on and on..

ssampson12985
ssampson12985

When you're pretty much fed up with the organizational structure the corruption of managers and the covert business adventures. Suddenly realize you dont fit in. Time to go. Oh and you dont like anyone on the management staff because theyre all doing each other then hint around to thinking they're going to do me to. I dont think so. Not my cup of tea.

a.portman
a.portman

I walked from two non-IT jobs. On one, I was (I thought) the number three man in the company. One day a customer came in and asked me about a business change I didn't know about. It turned out to be true. The second time a customer told me about a major change and the one owner had not told me or his partner yet, I knew it was time for me to go. I was out of there in 48 hours. The other job instead of using the most recent quarters numbers for our review, we were told to go back two quarters, to when the whole place was being torn apart for remodeling. When we needed to close for half a day because the fumes put three employees in the ER. What a surprise, our numbers sucked, no raises, written warnings on performance. My resume was out the next day.

jdspark2000
jdspark2000

The experiences above all tend to be about being over worked and under resourced. How about being under worked? It may sound nice not to have a whip cracking above your head but very slowly you go mad. In my last role with a major mobile operator in the UK they refused to invest in any networking equipment what so ever. As a result I ended up living on eternal promises of increased budget and investiment in new hardware whilst maintaining the end of life kit in our DC's. Life was attending design meetings only to be told that some no face manager in bigger office had refused to invest. As a result my working day was to process ad hoc access requests and surfing facebook. And all the while you aren't using the skills you developed. You're not honing new skills, not developing new solutions, not keeping you exitsing skills sharp. I got out as soon as it became apparent that the reason for the lack of investment was that the management had been arguing for years on whether to out source the operations. At that point I decided to leave, and leave them to their fate...

kevcamp
kevcamp

Anyone here in Higher Ed IT? I saw a comment about how bad hospitals are, but I think higher Ed give hospitals a run for their money. Siloing is SOP here. No leadership. No governance. No accountability. If this place were a business it would've failed decades ago. Sad.

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

Just because you don't have formal training... don't think that your CV is rubbish! If you took it upon yourself to learn enough about VMware, you know the product well enough to include on your CV. In fact, to me, it's more impressive than if you'd been to formal training and then did nothing with it. I'd say that you have a lot going for you if you decide to look for another job! Scott

technomom_z
technomom_z

Over the last 10 years, my job has migrated from "getting stuff done with a well qualified local team" to "work round the clock trying to get poorly trained, ill paid off shore teams to produce the same kind of work". The teams are in Europe and Asia. Since I have to stay on top of these teams, I find myself doing the European teamwork from 4am to about 10am my time, then I have my own work to do, then I have to catch the guys in Asia after 11pm my time. The whole thing has completely wrecked any sense of family/life balance I used to have. It's time for a change but where in the IT world can you work just ONE timezone these days, keep fairly decent hours (I'd be willing to do 50-60 hours per week, but really, 90-100 on a regular basis is too much) and still earn a decent living that sustains a family of 4?

Mad Mole
Mad Mole

6 1/2 years and I'm still firefighting for the penny pinchers. I should of left years ago but I've stuck it for 2 reasons: 1. Lack of official training means my on-paper CV looks increasingly rubbish. Our VMware environment exists because I did it off my own back for example. 2. We urgently need to move the VM's onto shared storage, the backup needs complete overhaul (getting tired of SDLT's) and I'm getting desparate to perform an AD migration. I'm in the middle of researching and planning a replacement gateway infrastructure and I know it'll be a fantastic step forward. With so much knowledge gained and still more to come how could I possibly leave and get the same 'experience' elsewhere? Of course I know it's likely that no matter how hard I slash the costs of each project and drive down the requirements to a bare minimum they're very unlikely to happen. I work in manufacturing and IT is not seen as critical to the production process (despite proving otherwise many times over) - ably illustrated by our lack of any fixed budget and the fact our estimed leader primarily runs HR. Hell yeah I should leave but where could I go?!

headmc
headmc

I work for what used to be a small software company, but that grew quickly and ended up merging with a spinoff from a much larger company. This spinoff has a lot of legacies, both system-wise and culturally, from the old company, and it shows in the attitudes of the management and the approach of users to dealing with technology. We've been struggling to implement a major ERP system, and while the system itself is often to blame for our difficulties, the larger problem is that users and management have a basic attitude that software = IT's problem. They don't understand the system, they don't take the time to write up good requirements, and there is almost no real definition of roles and responsibilities within the project team. The end result is that we (the tech team) often end up spinning our wheels trying to interpret vague requirements and spending a lot of time fixing things when the users change their minds over and over again or it turns out our guesses about their requirements were wrong. I as the manager spend an inordinate amount of time doing damage control, trying to improve communication with the business, and plugging the dykes wherever I can. Between the frustration of fighting an uphill battle with the users and the ongoing takeover of our small-company culture by the top-down red tape approach of the corporate parent, I'm starting to question the long-term value of staying here. Unfortunately, I have a lot of life factors at the moment that are pushing me to do exactly that. What I really want to do is figure out a way to turn the tides instead of just giving up.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

I found the second nervous breakdown, for which I became a psychiatric inpatient for a while, was a welcome break. I wish I had quit trying to please everyone a lot earlier.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

When management prefers brown nosers to talented employees, it's past time to leave. You lost your value the minute these pseudo-managers took over. They are no-nothing phonies who will eventually sink your company.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I've walked away from a few jobs. One, they were in total upheaval and couldn't organize themselves out of a wet paper bag. Two jobs I left because they were late paying me. Bad sign. But if its possible, its best to wait till you have another job lined up, signed offer in hand.

jcitron
jcitron

I was the network admin for about 10 years with the company. As they downsized, I did less IT and more other things, which in the long run wasn't such a bad thing. But anyway, during the heyday, I too was given all kinds of "new projects" to look into, but we did nothing with them. The management would never invest in anything, period. We were still running NT 4.0 SP6a on a majority of the servers, which at the end were about 11-12 years old. The old Compaq Proliants were still operational (a testament to their quality), but we couldn't replacement them either if anything died. I too went through skill rot to put it mildly. It's a good thing I took the impetus to go back to school for my IT degree, which I'm still working on today. I felt I had to do something otherwise my brains would rot too.

reisen55
reisen55

When I was making the conversion from Sales in IT to tech support (much more rewarding) I spent about 2 months in 1997 at IBM doing .... I have never been able to figure it out and THIS after two years with a successful IBM Business Partner in AS/400 systems. Underworked? How about "I Dunno" Got a copy of OS/2 WARP though. A keeper for a smile or two.

jev.case-24297005939114168965253281161338
jev.case-24297005939114168965253281161338

I understand being underworked, in my case I do not have the tools to do my job as effectively as I could. It is not a case of desire, I want to hone my skills and do a good job, but it's difficult when you have a mad dictator for a network administrator and management who won't spend any money to get a test environment going. I am getting tired of being locked down and told to get in line. But I have tried to improve any way I can. MIT Open courseware has some good stuff.

AlainKaz
AlainKaz

I was in the same situation not too long ago (before the last re-org. For once I was happy about it). Luckily, I had a PC (monster of a machine) running Win2008 on which I ran Linux and Windows VMs. I also ran GNS3 which simulates Cisco routers. As a telco architect, I have the firm conviction that I have to keep my skills up to date. I won't be installing physical machines (sniff sniff), but I HAVE to be able to know what I'm talking about. I'm happy that I had my own personal lab to practice with, or I would have gone mad with boredom. Bottom line is (finally), if you can, find a way to keep busy in a positive manner that will both benefit you and your employer even if he doesn't do squat with it. It'll beef up your r??sum?? should you choose to leave and you won't feel like your cheating your boss out of productive time (give me some slack here... ;) ). My setup is both inexpensive and under the radar (various lab policies :( ) and kept me busy when I needed it most. Best of luck.

Professor8
Professor8

I left the U after the 4th time they tried to get me to do something illegal and unethical, which means after the third time I'd shown them the statutes they were violating. In the context of this conversation, part of the violation involved the inverse of siloing; they were tossing around personal private information to people who had no actual need to know it, but found it convenient to know (and handy for coercing some students). One of the worst admin/recidivists failed upward, resigning as dean and becoming president at a smaller, women's university in VA.

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

I've spent a whole lot of time in Higher Ed IT. Some places are great and others, well... not so great. I actually like Higher Ed IT in general but I agree with you that siloing is pretty bad. I've seen siloing as the SOP but then almost removed from the organization and then, due to serious leadership failure, put back into place almost as a defensive mechanism. It's damn sad to see an organization practically ruined by just one or two people with unchecked power (which, to me, equals serious leadership failure). But, is this really just higher ed or it is this way in some places in every vertical? Not every higher ed organization has these issues.

OntheEdge
OntheEdge

Thought I had it bad until I read some of the other posts.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

It was a stupid thing to do. I made the erroneous assumption that my extra effort would be appreciated, but when local politics entered the mix I found I was no more valuable than a twenty year old patrol car. I loved my job, but after 30 years, management decided the sidewalks had more people who could do it. I should have seen the handwriting on the wall, and should have quit when it might have left a message. Nobody noticed the good-bye wave. ):-P

therock2814
therock2814

Hate to say this but you are being taken advantage of unless you are extremely well compensated. What a system we have...people that are working who are doing a job that two or more people should be doing. They have money but no time. Then there are others who can't find a job...plenty of time but no money.

DFO_REXX
DFO_REXX

At one time I supported European and US clients. This meant starting a work day six to eight hours in advance of the normal work day (as with you, about 4:00 AM) and was then expected to put in a full day for US hours (i.e., until about 5:00 PM). After a short time of that I put in a request to change my US work hours from "9 to 5" to "4 to 1", offering the additional hour to accommodate my US clients. Although my manager agreed to that change, my West Coast US clients began to complain they were not getting my full services because my "quitting time" of 10 AM (their time) was too early for their taste. After a month or two of complaints I was told to start working until 6:00 PM (often later). I then tried to have my schedule changed (with the approval of my European clients; I smartened up this time) to 7:00 AM. This worked reasonably well, with certain exceptions (sometimes meetings in Europe were 9:00 AM their time, so I still got up at 4:00 about three times a month). Still, a 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM day is very long... eventually I left that job. As for Asian clients, if I had had to support clients 24-7 on a job which was not designed for on-call I would have refused (and likely been terminated, but saving my life is more important than a job). I think the problem with the US economy is this: what made us strong in the last century (hard work) is no longer compatible with a world economy where your job could be anywhere and everywhere. What is needed by company owners is to work within the system; that is, if you support Asian clients then those are your hours, and don't also ask you to support US clients (who are on a time zone 12 hours apart). In other words, companies need "an Asian crew, a European crew, and an Americas crew" (three sets of employees, if you will). Simple example: if your staff has nine people, three support Asia/Pacific, three support Europe and Africa, and three support the Americas. it's better for the workers; please, employers, think about it.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Then it is definately time to leave.

urban peasant
urban peasant

I totally agree with Scott. It's not until you sift through some job ads (just do a search on a main job site for Networking and see what comes up) and read what people are looking for that you realise how to put your abilities down on paper. It's taken me about a month to work this out! But now I'm a lot happier because I know I can send something meaningful to any prospective advert. You need to take an evening or three to look into it without thinking about the current job. Look up from the fog of where you are so you can start scanning the horizon for where you might like to be.

Grumpy_IT_bod
Grumpy_IT_bod

Even worse where there is no time to step back from the never ending tasks and make a critical assessment of the system. I work in mainframe land. So hugs around.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Iv'e walked away twice in my career, once for a new job, once for voluntaryish redundancy, which is not bad in 30 years. I put it down to an extremely low level of expectation from my job and even less from my employer. Don't let them obscure why you are there slaving over a hot keyboard, it's not so you can have a work/life balance issue to address....

bowend
bowend

Tough going when you have an administrator believes everyone should have least privileged access except themselves.

jcitron
jcitron

As I said in another post, my job was limited as a network admin, but I learned other skills in the company. One of them was to take over the SQL-based business applications server. I went as far as to build a test machine, even copying the database to my local hard drive, so I could break it and learn how it worked. This actually did pay off for the company because when it came time to create the new year on the live server, we had practice on test system. We had that time, and plenty of it, to go through the parameters and switch settings prior to going live. So, when Jan 2 came along, we were able to edit the live server, and we were up and running the next day ready for finance to do the reporting. I agree this too has a nice value-add too for the CV because it showed that I took the initiative to learn something new, and to implement the final results into production. My MS-SQL classes paid off because I was able to also rebuild the live database after a database crash, which was rare but after 10 years of continuous operation, what would you expect!

kevcamp
kevcamp

I came very close to leaving to go to Emory Univ. in Atlanta, which I heard was tip top. But I couldn't quite get that sense from the interviews. My fear is leaving one frying pan to jump into another frying pan filled with acid. I've heard some higher ed situations are decent, but I don't know where they are. Got a map?

nonimportantname
nonimportantname

Her time obviously is, whether she realizes this or not. No human being should be expected to keep up that kind of production day in and day out for 5 days a week. I'm surprised she (assuming gender by the handle) hasn't keeled over. technomom, uh....yes, I think you need to high tail it out of there and recapture some work/LIFE balance!

JamesRL
JamesRL

I agree it isn't the money. If they work someone 100 hours a week, for no compensation, they don't value their employees enough to ensure they won't burn out/flame out. If they pay someone 100 hours a week on a consistent basis, someone in HR is going to notice and they will either have to spread the work around or hire another person.

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