Dear Evil HR Lady,
I need some impartial feedback on my current job situation that is causing me massive amounts of stress. I feel perplexed and overwhelmed and don’t know if this is something I can change or something that I need to accept or move on from. You do not need to publish my letter, but if you could provide me with any thoughts, I’d greatly appreciate them.
First, I’ll detail a bit of my work history for you so you can see where I’ve been.
Length of employment: 4.5 years
Satisfaction Level: Moderate – a steady (but meager) paycheck, but minor perks (flexible work hours, 5 min. commute, etc.) that made it decent. The work itself was rather mindless.
Reason for leaving: A job that was initially described to me as “entry level with no room for advancement” that truly was just that. I stayed for quite a while and there was no room for me to gain responsibilities. It was great for right out of college…but I was hungry for more.
Length of employment: 8 months
Satisfaction Level: HIGH! Worked for a company that I LOVED, doing something that was challenging and interesting, making significantly more money than previous job, working with a great group who I’m still friends with today.
Reason for leaving: A month after I was hired, it was announced that the company was acquired and that the aquiring company would be dominating. Anyone that wished to stay on would be required to move from the current location (PA) to the dominant company’s location (TX). I left at the first “decent” opportunity that was presented to me after this announcement (though I lingered on for a bit) as my severence would have been only 1 month’s worth.
Length of employment: 3 months
Satisfaction Level: LOW. The three departments managed that were managed by a particular VP regularly experienced complete turnover in less than a year. Commute time was unbearable (during my interviews, traffic was not at it’s peak and I underestimated this. My fault entirely).
Reason for leaving: See above. Additionally, a manager of another department at Job 2 came here to be my manager. She immediately began job hunting and left shortly after I did.
Length of employment: 1.3 years
Satisfaction Level: Varied. Perks: High (free benefits, decent salary for area, low commute time, good PTO plan, hands-off boss) Job Itself: High – when actually given work to do. Boss was fed up and looking for a new job during my entire tenure here. Her attitude prevented her from fighting for my ideas and did not provide me adequate support. Another issue is that my position was newly created and I floundered for at least 6 months b/c no one had a clear expectation of what I was to be doing.
Reason for leaving: Lack of boss support (from someone who i liked as a person), instability (CEO who restructured my entire department 2 times before I came, once while I was there and once again since I left. Eliminating 3 positions total w/in the department)
Length of employment: June to present
Satisfaction Level: Low – due to commute time (changed once school was back in session), boss, one co-worker, duties at times. High – with some particular duties and the company itself.
1. My boss “the VP” (whom I report to) is a difficult personality for me.
The good: She has the ear of our CEO. Since I have started here, compliments have been coming in from those I’ve worked with and the ‘complimenters’ have passed along the praise to my boss. She has passed along the praise to our CEO. She does compliment me from time to time.
The bad: She’s a snob and belittling. Very domineering in that she will literally talk over me and not give me an opportunity to explain my thinking. She has a tendency to micromanage.
2. The duties. I’m being paid significantly more than my last job, but given the duties of an admin. I definitely don’t mind pitching in to help with these…but this shouldn’t be my primary focus at this point in my career. Something I made clear to my boss during hte interview process.
3. The “manager” – I do not directly report to this person, yet she seems to have the authority to assign me tasks. She’s made it clear to me that she’s done a lot of things that are now my responsibility (I am again, in a newly created position) and has difficulty surrendering the things she considers “fun” to me. Therefore she passes along all the stuff she doesn’t enjoy to me.
I’ve tried talking to Manager, she’s seemed to understand/agree with my concerns, but then goes back to the way she has been doing things. Another co-worker is a friend from a previous job. I’ve discussed my issue with her and she understands but her duties don’t align with this manager, so it’s not an issue for her. I’ve contemplated discussing this with MY boss, but I fear 2 things.
1. She’s very reactionary. I don’t want to create a BIG issue…just have her understand my frustrations.
2. I fear her saying somethign to Manager and having her become even worse/snarky. She is a single working mom and seems to really value her career, which is understandable. But she also seems to feel that it defines her.
So…to make a long story short (too late, I know), I’m torn between looking for a new job or trying to make this one work. I just feel since I’ve left Job 2, which was PERFECT, I’ve become the square peg trying to fit into the round hole and nothing has been quite right. I also realize that I’m probably looking like a job hopper right now. I don’t want to be…but I want to be happy.
So, dear HR Lady, is it me? Am I a bad employee? Am I picking the wrong jobs? How do I know if it’s the “right” job? Or am I just destined to be unhappy?
Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Since it is Halloween night (and I keep getting interrupted by strangely dressed young people asking for candy) I gazed into my crystal ball and discovered this: You ARE destined for unhappiness.
So sorry. I suggest you don’t purchase any lottery tickets either.
All right, all right, some of this is your own making. Some of this is bad luck. Here are the things that are of your own making:
1. Commute time. You really, really, really need to get a handle on that. Sure, major contstruction problems can cause unexpected delays, but other than that, you should be aware. Always do the expected commute during rush hour if commute time is important to you.
2. Picking bad bosses. What? Bosses don’t pick you? Well, they do, but you also pick them. It’s called recruiting because the company is trying to recruit you. You should be interviewing them as well as being interviewed. They don’t want to hire a bad fit, and you certainly don’t want to be hired into a bad fit. I’m betting you paid more attention to the title and salary than you did the actual boss. Company cultures are extremely important as well. Some people just “don’t fit.”
3. Expecting other people to explain things to you. That job with the unclear job resonsibilities? It should have been resolved within the first few weeks. You should have taken the lead. (Technically, it’s not your responsibility, it’s the manager’s–and they shouldn’t have been recruiting without at least a basic understanding of the responsibilities for the position–but they didn’t. So you have to.)
Now, other things are definitely beyond your control. A new boss transferred in, for instance, or the old boss quitting. (And FYI you bosses out there who are planning to quit. Knock off the new hires will you? It’s unfair to hire someone and then on their first day inform them that you’re leaving at the end of the week and you don’t know who their new supervisor will be.)
Research on the company is super important. You probably could have learned that they were a takeover target if you had done your research. Did you understand their current financial state before you interviewed? I actually think very few people do the research they really should do. Yes, they find out about the job and aspects of the company that pertain to that particular job, but forget to look at the overall health of the company.
So, what should you do? First, stop looking for bliss at work. Second, stop letting the bad portions overshadow the good. Third, stick out your current job for at least a year, preferrably two or three years. There are going to be people out there that vehemently disagree with me on this one, but you don’t haven’t had any long term jobs since your first one. This makes you less desireable on the hiring side. The potential manager is going to say, “what is wrong with this person?”
Yes, usually I advocate getting out when you realize you’ve made a mistake, but you’ve been doing that and it hasn’t gotten any better.
You’ve got a micro-managing boss and a non-boss who wants to be a boss. Fine. Figure out how to deal with them. What makes them tick? Why is your VP micromanaging you? Does she mico-manage everyone, or just you? If it’s just you, chances are you are doing something she perceives as wrong.
You loved Job Number 2. You know what? You probably would have had problems there had the job lasted a longer time. Since everyone was in the same desperate boat (find a new job or move to TX) you probably bonded where you wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m not saying it wasn’t a fabulous job, I’m just saying you are probably over-idealizing it. It’s like the old joke where the minister asks all the perfect people in the audience to stand. One older gentleman stands up. The minister, prepared to give a speech about how we are all imperfect doesn’t know quite what to say. As he begins to sputter the man says, “I’m not standing up for me. I’m just representing my wife’s first husband.” First husband wasn’t perfect, but the wife only remembers the good sides.
A job is a job. It’s why they call it work. Yes, some people are able to find bliss at work. Don’t expect it. (Someone else is going to disagree with me on this one, but what can I say? I’m a little negative.) Work on solving the problems you have now and those skills will help you in future jobs.
When you do start job hunting again, take your time and make sure you are interviewing companies and bosses as well. Do your research. Hopefully this will lessen the chances of unexpected uglines.
And for heaven’s sake, please test out the commute and look for school zones before you accept an offer.