5 signs your job sucks

Dudley Lagoon

Over the last three months since I’ve gone back on a new contract I’ve struggled. I was working like crazy during my “problogging” stint, but I enjoyed what I was doing and I had little desire to get back to work.  Since I took the contract, things have not gone well – although on the other hand they have.  My client took the time to praise me to the skies to some other contractors (and it got back to me) and I’ve gained the trust of some of the senior execs of this Fortune 10 company.  Lucky me.  At the same time, I’ve been sucked into a morass of corporate politics and dead time.  This contract feels more like a job than any contract I’ve taken in the last three years.  The stench of obligation is overwhelming.  I came up with 5 reasons why this contract sucked and decided that they could be universally applicable as 5 signs your job (or contract, or whatever) sucks:

1.  You can’t get out of bed in the morning. If you wake up in the morning and groan, it’s not a good sign.  During the one year in the last eight years of my working career I was excited about my work, I leapt out of bed every morning.  If the prospect of going to work creates enough dread in your mind that you don’t want to leave bed in the morning, your job sucks.

2. You spend more time on the internet than you do working. I know everyone spends a certain amount of time browsing the internet at work – we’re all human.  At the same time, if you spend more time at gothamist than you do working, it means your job sucks for one of two reasons:  either you have stuff to do and it’s so awful you’re avoiding it, or your job sucks because you have nothing to do.

3.  You’re the first person out the door in the evening. I’m a big work-life balance guy, but I know that when I lead the 5:00 charge out of the door I’m not engaged in my work.  If you’re enjoying your work you’re going to stick around at least past the first exodus every evening – if for no other reason than to see if you can pick up on after-hours gossip.

4.  You don’t think about work after hours. When I was engaged in my work, I thought about it after I left work.  I would go for drinks with co-workers and talk about work.  I got passionate about it, because it was interesting and I was involved.  As I sit here writing this post in the evening, I can barely tell you what I worked on today.  That means I don’t find the work interesting or even worthy of contemplation.

5.  You mock people who enjoy their work. I think this demonstrates that your job sucks worse than anything.  Everyone should enjoy their work.  Even if your work sucks, YOU should be able to find some sense of satisfaction in the paycheck, or the fact that you’re creating something of value or beauty.  If you TELL people your work is awful and mock people who enjoy their own work, your job probably sucks.

I’ve been wrestling with the goose-who-laid-the-golden-egg question for a while. I don’t care the least bit for the contract work I’m doing now, but it pays quite well, the hours are good and because of the structures of the contracts I get health care benefits.  I have found that it’s impossible to rationalize a job that sucks, though.  If you don’t like it, you don’t like it – and it’s hard to change your attitude once that mindset is locked in.

If you see that your job hits one or more nerves in the list above, it’s time to consider a move. I’ve started considering a change for myself.  One of the things you worry about in corporate America is that staying in year after year will kill your drive to create things outside of the normal corporate-paycheck-routine. I know I feel less and less desire to create (blog, other writing, cooking, etc.) every day I slog away at this contract; so the question is do I stay or do I go?  What do you do when a job sucks?

photo credit: suburbanbloke

27 comments

  • I don’t remember where I read it, but it goes something like this:

    Want to earn six figures blogging?
    Step 1: Find a job that pays six figures
    Step 2: Blog at work

    I think a lot of people are doing this!

    As the economy worsens (or at least our collective outlook), it’s difficult to not fall into the trap of “I’m going to be laid off, so I’ll goof off at work,” but it may be the goofing off at work that gets you fired!

    Now may be the time to jump off the corporate ladder OR really dive in and be better than your peers. It just might save your job.

    As in everything, it’s a personal choice. You made some great points in this post.

  • Usually I ask myself whether this is a temporary blip in the job, or an actual dislike of everything involved. Then, there’s splitting out whether it’s this company that you don’t like, or this job role, or this career. The first two being more easily cured than the last.

    Finally, there are the practical considerations. I went through an awful time at work a couple of years ago and ended up sticking it out. Partly this was because I thought the situation might be temporary (it was) but also I was due a large bonus (think more than half my annual salary) if I stayed another 6 months.

    In addition, the other career that I was considering was being a librarian. That would involve moving to another city (and then moving, and moving again), taking on a lot of debt to do a degree, and having a lower paid, and not necessarily more enjoyable job. That’s a big change to make on a whim.

  • The last thing I want to catch up on is office gossip. Good lord, that’s as good a reason as any to check out at 5:01. I don’t want any part of all that drama.

  • That’s a shrewd observation. Most people don’t know that their job sucks, and come to believe that sucking is normal. That’s when the trivial or inane start to matter a great deal to them.

    Often if you think a job sucks, your employer thinks the same of you, and your time is limited anyway. I rather envy those who able to provide self-motivation for a lousy job.

    As you noted a while back, you have a ready-made solution to this one. You hang in there until the contract runs out, don’t try to renew it, and everyone parts vaguely satisfied. Is that your strategy here, or are you consididering a more direct way out this time?

  • Oh, Steve, #5 is brilliant!
    Sometimes, when you are ready to reinvent yourself, the “devil” feeds you with a rationally very nice bait. Weigh in carefully — which is more important, a good pay and benefits or your life?

  • Steve, I’m right there with you man! I’m in the middle of a job search right now. My current job pays well but it’s sucking the life out of me. Good luck to us both 🙂

  • I think #4 is tricky–as much as I love my work, I’d rather NOT think/talk about it outside of the office walls. While there are requisite chats about how things are going, etc. I find that it’s enjoyable to learn about and see people in a different element when going out. It humanizes and makes work much more enjoyable. Furthermore, I think that thinking about work at home sometimes detracts from giving my full attention to loved ones…

  • Interesting. I love my job, but I still experience numbers 1, 2, and 3.

    1. I groan and can’t get out of bed because I seem to never get enough sleep, so I always want 5 more minutes.

    2. A lot of time on the internet, sure. But the job entails a lot of down time that only requires me to be available to answer the phone or respond to email.

    3. I don’t have any co-workers and work independently, so it doesn’t matter what time I leave, I’m the first and last one out the door 😛

  • Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet

    I hated a job so bad once that I actually hoped I got in an accident on the way to work so I didn’t have to go…. now that’s bad!

  • I hated the work environment once so badly, I would come home and cry like a child who doesn’t want to go back. Yes, it was that bad. Probably not as bad as wishing to get into an accident, though. So Ashley wins.

  • @Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet – LOL

    Now that’s funny.

    I find myself thinking of ways to leave early or come in late (dentist appts, doctor visits, need to go the the childrens school etc’)

    And the other half was spent allocating my vacation days

    I just said to myself “why I have to make up things, I just need to just find another job”

  • That’s a great list. I would say that number 4, though, cuts both ways. When I really started to hate my job (mostly the politics part), I thought about it all the time. It was ruining my non-work hours. So when you think about it (negatively) after work hours–that’s another sign your job sucks.

  • I think there needs to be a #6 – if you don’t see any of the above improving. Because I always hate getting out of bed, and I’m always on the internet. 🙂

  • For me, this one is rather simple: If the job – and, by extension, the boss and/or company – is beyond the point of redemption, I just launch a job search and try to *create* something positive out of that.

    Along with that, I try to focus on other things in my life that can give me happiness, from part-time work to personal financial planning.

    As for the job I’m still in? I just do the best I can and try to create something positive out of anything I do. If I can’t, I just tell myself “You won’t be here forever. Just get out when the right opp comes along.”

  • wow I fit the bill for each of these. I think it’s time for a job hunt, or at the very least to begin a quest for the elusive passive income streams.

  • In regards to #5, I’m jealous of people that love their job. I want that experience.

  • Yes – #1 – getting up in the morning sucks, but it’s got nothing to do with my job. I love sleeping late.

    #2 – are you kidding, who even has time to breath?

    #3 – that would be fun.

    #4 – I am still waiting for some “after hours”… 🙂 OK, I am exaggerating, but I work really long hours.

    #5 – I mock everyone. I am an equal opportunity mocker.

    I am pretty happy with my current gig. Does it show?

  • treadmill workouts

    ha ha – nice post ; i think i can add at least another 5 signs :))

  • Hi Steve,

    I just wanted to say that I’m sorry you’re hating your job right now. I do hope things improve or that you’re presented with an option you hadn’t thought of or weren’t expecting!

    Regards,
    Cathy

  • #1 is the most important, if you cant even get out of bed to go work for 8 hours, you’ve got a problem j o b.

  • I actually got un-motivated in a job when I was being punished for asking too many questions, and the punishment was to not give me enough work to do. Hours dragged on endlessly and I spent a lot of time looking for other things to do while sitting at my desk and staring at a screen. Fortunately, things did finally turn around and I became busy again. Being underutilized is about the most soul-destroying thing I can think of in a job. Thank goodness that’s history now.

  • My job did suck – I hated going to the same office, seeing the same people, doing the exact same work every single day. Around year 9, though I belong to a powerful professional union, get 5 wks vacation, and they pay 12% of my salary into retirement – I really began to consider walking away from my job.

    Then, lo and behold, we were given the option to telecommute. We also got new software and new database, and fantastic new pcs and monitors. It all has completely changed my POV, and I feel happy about my job again! I *love* telecommuting, it is the best thing I’ve ever experienced professionally. I’ll gladly keep this job and it’s not overly impressive mid 5 figure income because I have complete flexibility in my work day now.

    After reading the above comments and the post, I feel incredibly blessed!

  • I disagree with points 3 and 4. I do programming which requires a lot of focus and concentration. If I try to stay late and finish something up I will not feel as fresh and clear minded for the next few days. I also do not think about problems outside of work because if I let the problem go for an evening, then I magically discover the solution upon returning to work the following morning (seriously).

    I believe there is only so much focused work a person can do in a day without burning out and once you pass that point, you need extra rest to make up for it.

  • I disagree with points 3 and 4. I do programming which requires a lot of focus and concentration. If I try to stay late and finish something up I will not feel as fresh and clear minded for the next few days. I also do not think about problems outside of work because if I let the problem go for an evening, then I magically discover the solution upon returning to work the following morning (seriously).

    I believe there is only so much focused work a person can do in a day without burning out and once you pass that point, you need extra rest to make up for it.

  • it's clear, start looking out.. i'm in the same situation, i just joined this ad agency 4 months back and within a month i knew that things won't work here. i'm the HR Manager here and clearly there is no understanding of what an HR Manager is supposed to do. My boss, the Head-HR does basic jobs that ideally a fresher would do! my opinion, contribution and views are never sought on any HR matters!
    i feel i will forget whatever i have learned in my previous jobs by the time i quit this place!

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  • You think your life and job suck. Read this guy's blog. http://myjobsucksbigtime.blogspot.com/