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How do you know when its time to leave?

By Presidio ·
Is it time for a change?
Just a job change or a career change?

I?ve been programming for over 10 years (several different companies). There was a time when I loved it, now I dread coming to work. For about 6 months now I leave work each day with my jaw clenched; shoulder/neck muscles tight; stomach in a knot and spend my entire drive home trying to relax.

Sometimes I think that it is this particular work environment. My supervisor has changed, company location has changed, and there is major staff turnover. There is also no chance to keep up with new technology. However I live in a small community with very limited new opportunities.

Sometimes I think I need a complete new direction. I still have moments where I really get into the code and enjoy developing, but I wonder if both the IT industry and I have changed too much.

I?ve had personal life changes too and would actually rather work part time. Working more then 8 hours in a day feels like such punishment.

Getting a paycheck is 95% of the reason I show up for work every day. I get paid well but would rather earn less and enjoy my job.

So where does one go from here?

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Do some Research

by jackmail In reply to How do you know when its ...

Changing jobs is hard work - especially for someone who has been with a single employer for a long period of time. I found myself in a similar situation a while back and decided I needed to do something about it. Here's the plan:

Take charge of your career ? it is your responsibility to create opportunities for growth. DEcide where you want to be and then come up with a plan to get there.

Revitalize and expand your network. Track down coworkers who have left your company. Join local networking groups, become more active in organizations and be a useful resource to those you network with.

Update your resume and find a recruiter in your field who will critique it. Stay in frequent touch with 2-3 different recruiters you are comfortable with. They will appreciate any leads you could provide to them as well (your previous coworkers for instance).

Remember you are responsible for keeping up to date on the tools of the trade ? not your company - take some classes or buy a book and use the tools so that you will feel comfortable enough to list it as a skill on your resume. Also do some moonlighting with newly acquired skills ?pro bono work usually provides a good reference.

As it has turned out ? I am still at my job but I feel better knowing that I have some options and now I get the occasional call from a recruiter ? I haven?t changed jobs but it is good to know there are alternatives.

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It depends

by mitchlr In reply to How do you know when its ...

There are several factors involved in the decision. First of all, this isn't 1999 any more. Back then IT people were treated nicely by employers, who were taught by the market to value people who created the engines of commerce in the new economy. Those were heady times for IT. Now we have to get along in a heavily managed world that demands demonstrable ROI and other management controls.

These have been implemented with varying degrees of draconian measures, and of course a lot depends on the personality of your manager. Really it's not the position that you leave or stay with -- it's the overarching culture of your workplace and in particular the manager or management chain you work for.

If you are in a place with clueless managers who accept scope creep on projects and especially who deal with others, including you, in a graceless, tactless fashion that switches to the language of ultimatum and confrontation without cause, then you probably need to make a change. If your manager is manifestly incompetent, you may be able to out last him or her, but you'll have to make a judgement call on whether the clue train stops at the offices higher up. If the upper middle management is also incompetent or unwilling to confront your supervisor's bad behavior, then there is an entrenched and intractable cultural problem you will do well to do without. If going over your supervisor's head risks reprisal for you, that's a big warning flag. You don't have to work for a strutting machiavelli in a starched shirt. This is true whether it is at the level of your immediate supervisor or someone else up the chain.

When people leave for reasons other than a relocation or a better opportunity, the dynamic involved is not leaving a position, but leaving a supervisor, a management team that fails to value its people, or a business culture that is unreasonable.

Even so, if you decide to go, you need to have one of the following:
1. Enough cash to tide you over while you look for a new gig, or
2. A new gig lined up already, or
3. A level of comfort that you'll be able to find a new gig or enough contract work to get you by.
4. Enough frustration that you feel you need to leave in order to preserve your sanity and relationships with your family.

It is best to try to approach the decision as cerebrally as possible. Sure, there's a visceral element, but you will have to list your feelings among the reasons you examine with a cool head. Try to be an observer rather than a participant.

Finally, if you do decide to pull the plug, don't slam the door on your way out. Be gracious -- submit a written two week notice, thank the company for the opportunities you've had and that you will always value the experience you've garnered working for this firm. That's a true statement no matter how you feel about them.

Hope this helps.

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Every 2 Years

by JustJoel In reply to How do you know when its ...

The last time I changed jobs, I took a good hard look at what I liked to do and what I was able to do, and I came to the conclusion that I should limit myself to 2 years at any one particular position. I figured that it takes me 6 months to learn the job, six more to get really good at it, six months to thrive and excell at it, and six months to train my successor.

I am the type of person who can learn a new program/program language/skillset rather quickly (as are most of us techies) and I get bored/bitter/stressed (pick one) after a period of time any longer than that.

It seems to be true. I have been at the same job for 3 years and feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. But, I am starting on my master's degree in the fall, so maybe I will put up with it until something better comes along....

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by jbrosch In reply to How do you know when its ...

Man does this sound familiar!!

I've read all the replies to this point and would like to comment on them as I add my two cents.

Brief history first. I've been a FoxPro programmer for over 20 years, since well before MS purchased the company. I've been both captive employee and consultant (back and forth just to find work sometimes). Right know I'm a contractor working in Boston while my wife lives in Charlotte - VERY long weekly commute. Currently I am finishing up the studies/testing to become a financial planner.

Small town - This is going to effect ever thing that is said on this board. I don't know what your family situation is, but don?t sell them short on there ability to support you. It sounds like one of the first questions is "is relocation a possibility?? In a small town, resources are scarce and sometime non-existent. Don't forget the Internet for resources in the area of continuing education and possible job search ( for tech work). Other sites include, as well as TechRepublic.

Bliss - I agree with several of the previous posts! Do what you can to discover your self and follow your instincts, get to the point where you know yourself and can trust that person. Po Bronson?s work is good, as well as What Color is your Parachute?? Also Crow Ministries has some personality testing software focused on work, look at CareerDirect at If not Crown, consider some personality testing to look at what you might be interested in and where you talents are. Don?t get stuck in the old paradigm of work, 40 hours in a 5 by 8 week. Right now I work 3 weeks a month and take a week off each month to study. Previously I worked Monday through Thursday and had a three-day weekend every week. I don?t know your relationship with your new boss, but after so much time there I would assume you could talk to somebody at the company about opportunities to change your job description within the same company. If your willing to work latter in life, consider taking time off on an on-going basis in exchange for having to work past 65. BUT don?t underestimate the power of compounding retirement funds.

Non-Profit ? I?ve done a fair amount of volunteer work for the volunteer environment. They are frequently MUCH more appreciative of the work you do. In general they will always take as much or more of your time as you are willing to give. To find opportunities, contact your local United Way office. They coordinate other agencies needs. For paid positions, two things to think about are you have as much (if not more) of the office politics as for-profit organizations. Two, in addition to all the other issues you have more pressure from the we?re always broke? and will the political wind **** the wrong way and cause our funding to be cut.

Good luck in whatever you do!!

Looking back it looks more like a nickel?

For those of a spiritual tendency

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In this market...

by ejmuller In reply to How do you know when its ...

I haven't had the chance to read all the responses so if I am repeating what someone else said, so be it. In this economy and job market, having a job and being, as you said, well paid for it is nothing to sneeze at. Having been out of work for many months last year and seen first hand what happens when you can't pay the mortgage, I would not be so quick to advise this person to leave a job.

However, I also understand feeling like you want more satisfaction out of life. But that doesn't have to come from your job. There are many other places to get enjoyment, fulfillment, etc. Find an organization that you feel strongly about and volunteer there. Develop hobbies and interests that may have lain dormant for a while. Join a theater group if you enjoy being center stage.

Find other places and other things to challenge you, stimulate you and give you a feeling of engagement. I wouldn't tell many people to leave a good paying job just to seek some sort of vaguely defined "need for satisfaction". Not now. Not in this economy.

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New Career Direction

by KUKI_CAT In reply to In this market...

If I were you I would consider teaching your programming craft. It?s amazing how students have a way of making you see things in a new light and its very rewarding to see the looks on the faces of students when they ?get it?.

If you teach in schools like New Horizons or Executrain you will get more offers for employment than you can seriously entertain. High dollar offers too.

Also if I were you I would try creating a program to sell over the Internet. And there isn?t any reason to come up with something new and completely different. One subject to think about is File or Folder security. I recently bought AIRoboform because I NEEDED something to secure and remember my passwords for me. But I wished there had been an alternative program available with similar features.

You are also free to consult. $120.00 an hour is the going rate here in California. This can give you some financial breathing room. You can accept work from several companies that specialize in consulting to get started. The pay is less but imagine going to a different place every week and meeting new people. Tackling a new or different problem at each stop. The cool thing here is you may already have the solution because you have seen the same thing before somewhere else. This is where your high wages become reasonable for the corporate world.

Consider getting certified as an MCSA and CCA. (I highly recommend this.) It equals more money.

Personally I would never abandon my work experience and start over anew. I would want to build on what I already have.

Lastly consider your retirement don?t give up your job until you are able to develop an income similar to what your have now just because your bored.

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Hope it helps

by dede_873 In reply to How do you know when its ...

I am a 30 y.o. Dutch female working in programming and administering applications for a little over 5 years now and have found myself in the same situation for about 1 to 1.5 years now.
I wanted to tell you more about how I got in this situation, but It?s too much and moreover I understand how u feel. Sympathy is great but any aid leading to real solutions would be super, I guess anyway. Just so you understand my dissatisfaction is great at this moment and there were times I thought I should just do anything to change how I feel, but then I calmed down again and thought, there has to be a better way!? And that is were I am now, I believe there is a better way and I am exploring it.

And I have learnt that unattended dissatisfaction can spread, like its contaminated. I think for me it started when after putting a lot of effort into a situation which seemed unchangeable, I began becoming more and more dissatisfied with my future perspective and then at one point I started to question if I had chosen the correct field to work in!?

I have made some progress but am not there yet! And while reading all the replies I agree there?s a bit of truth in all of them, how odd it may seem.
I started writing down the things I liked in my career and the things I really disliked, to start identifying the things that were really bugging me and I wanted to get rid of and things I was satisfied about.
I also wrote down all the knowledge and the skills I acquired, to help explore future possibilities.
And tried to extract from myself the skills I had prior to my career and my IT study. I asked myself questions like which things I already did naturally without giving much thought to AND I enjoy(ed) much?? Which things I really didn?t like doing?? Why I chose to study IT and to work in IT??

A lot back-track thinking and writing later gave me at least a bit of sense and insight into where I stand now and some options of how I would like to proceed. And I don?t know exactly what my end destination is, but at least I have found some direction and this helps to give peace of mind. I agree its our own responsibility to be happy and we should take steps to live alive we are happy living. I also agree that when you really manage to ?listen to? yourself you might find there are skills which can lead you to a totally new career path which you perhaps can combine with IT or maybe not. For now I have decided to follow a career path with (foreign) language(s), perhaps in translating(?) and more dealings with people in coaching/advising in combination (or need be NOT combined) with IT.

What helped me was a lot of analyzing, thinking out of the box, talking about it, reflecting and many (small) steps and taking the time I needed to understand what?s happening and determine what next. I am still at my current employer, I know I have to leave asap and I am actively searching for the opportunity & time to leave without harming myself.

I wish you a lot of stamina, peace of mind, insight and luck!

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Signs you know its time to leave..

by TomSal In reply to How do you know when its ...

1) When the thought of going to work is immediately followed by the feeling of nausea.

2) When the thought of someone (or several people) you work with suddenly makes you smile happy thoughts of napalm, TNT and .50 caliber uranium depelted rounds expelled at high speed and at mass quantity.

3) When you scream (or have strong desire to want to) at your spouse, bf/gf when they want to ask how things are at work.

yep the signs are pretty clear.

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It may be time to go....

by doriginalxcaliber In reply to How do you know when its ...

I'm sure you've already done this: be careful of your perspective. It may not be as bad as it seems.

However, you mentioned that you dread going to work, and your paycheck is the primary reason you're still there. Based on my similar experience, it may be time to go.

Go to where the opportunities are, make a decision based on the best option you have, and get out of the hole you're in. You're obviously aware that there are good and bad times regardless, but it does you no good, especially as a programmer, to have to dread going to work.

Just a thought...But good luck; I'm sure you'll be fine.

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Judt Do It

by alexp023 In reply to How do you know when its ...

Well I've heard a great deal about your delimna:

o Broke & Unemployed Sucks
o Hobbies can make money for you & many times turn into careers.
o Get yourself educated - Plenty of FREE training on the internet & elsewhere.
o Find a need and fill it
o Verizon says, "Make progress every day."
o Nike says, "Just Do It"
o Propax with NT factor will help restore or bring back your energy.

Question is "What do you want to do?
Pick something or else circumstances will lead you.

Set some goals.

Then, "Just Do It"

PS: Let us know what you decide.

Good Luck...

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