Maybe you've just started at a new company--or maybe you've been working with one for a while. But something seems wrong. You can't put your finger on the issue, but deep in the core of your mind, you know something is amiss.
Still, you ignore the feeling and soldier on. Months or years later, you're miserable. Every strand of hair on your head has gone gray and the fuse on your temper has shortened drastically. Would that you had realized early on that you were working for the wrong company. That bit of knowledge could have saved you plenty of discontentment and time.
Here are a few signs for you to look for--signs that may help you know whether the company you hired on with isn't the right fit. Grab your coffee, open your eyes wide, and read on.
1: You don't believe in what the company does
This one is a big one, although you might not see it at first. The company you're working for might be in a less than desirable sector of business. Maybe the product you support doesn't stand up to its claims. Or maybe the company engages in business practices that rub your ethical grain the wrong way. Chances of this issue smoothing out are slim to none. In fact, the idea that you can't fall in line with the very heart of the company should tell you, immediately, that it's time to bail.
2: Your talents are wasted
Your skills are mighty. You know the systems and the architecture better than anyone in the company. Your prowess at the keyboard and coding are unmatched within the department. And yet... all those skills are going to waste. Why? Because the company uses a different software, the head of IT has decided to go a different route, the company suffers from vendor lock-in, or it's still trapped in the 90s or early 2000s. Whatever the reason, all the training and skills you possess are going to waste. Chances are, unless you confront those with the power to effect change, you'll grow ever-more frustrated as the days pass.
3: You are undervalued
We've all felt this at one time or another. But when it persists, there might be a deeper issue. When you're a fresh-out-of-college employee, it's common to feel undervalued; but eventually, that feeling should abate. If you've been in the business for a while and still feel undervalued at your company, it might be time to start looking. That feeling can get under your skin and eat away at your confidence. In the world of IT, confidence goes a long way toward keeping your head above water. Sink or swim?
4: You feel constant frustration
Yes, this is IT--and frustration and IT go hand in hand. But if frustration never subsides--if you awake in the morning feeling its weight and go to bed with it pressing on your chest--it might well be time to find a new gig. There are certain companies out there that simply do not handle pressure well. They implode or the higher-ups don't hesitate to drop the hammer on everyone below them. There are also companies out there that handle pressure incredibly well. If you can't deal with constant frustration, you might want to seek out an employer that knows how to work under the persistent stress of IT.
5: You've lost the passion for the job
Most people go into IT because of an unyielding passion for technology. There are some companies out there that will happily nurture that passion--and some that will be more than willing to help you lose it. The latter would rather you have a burning desire to help feed their bottom line, so making sure the "cog" that is you fits perfectly into the machine that is the business is their top priority. If you find yourself losing your passion for IT and technology, ask yourself whether it's happening naturally or whether your company is dousing your flames with the water of business.
6: You discover a low ceiling above you
Let's face it: You accepted that job assuming you'd be able to rise in the ranks and someday take over as a leader... at least of a project. Unfortunately, when you look above you, all you see is that the ceiling is much, much lower than you originally thought. That means but one thing: Opportunity might not await you. If you see this, and upward mobility is near the top of your list, it's time to you realize that your company might not be the best fit for you.
7: You no longer want to tell people where you work
When you were first hired, more than likely you were proud of proclaiming, "I am an employee of X!" But when the polish wears off of that pride, where do you stand? Is it nothing more than losing the "new car smell" of being hired? Or have you become ashamed or embarrassed to admit where you work and what you do? If it's the former, you'll survive. If it's the latter, there's a much deeper problem at hand and you'll want to address it ASAP.
8: You stop respecting those above you
This can get really ugly. When you lose respect for your superiors, it can come out in some fairly nasty ways. You might start slacking off on the job or behaving belligerently; you might start spreading gossip or refusing to do your job altogether. In the end, that lack of respect you've developed for your boss will only hurt you. You'll wind up on probation or fired. Once fired, that blemish might be a stain on your record that is a challenge to remove. If you feel respect waning, address it immediately. Sometimes the only solution for that is to move on.
9: You have no idea what you're doing
It's possible that you've been placed in a position that doesn't match your skills or that the head of the department simply has no idea what to do with you. But when you flounder around seven days a week, unsure of your purpose or where you fit, it's time to confront those who hired you and find out whether this issue can be remedied--or it's time to move on. You can do busy work only so long before the problems begin to compound.
10: You've got that "itch"
You know the "itch" I'm talking about. You want a new challenge, a new locale. This is common in the world of IT. You've been working in the same company/department/role for years and you no longer feel challenged. Tech pros need to be challenged, need to solve the big problems and save the day. If you've found yourself in a never-ending loop of fixing printers and cleaning Outlook files, you're going to quickly lose what remains of your sanity. Get out while the gettin' is good.
If you're falling victim to one or more of these indicators, it might be time to reevaluate where you are in your career. Of course, you might find these conditions bearable. But either way, it's always good to run a mental and emotional inventory of where you stand in your career.