- Find out what bad jobs are like
- Get some inspiration about improving your situation
- Realize how much it costs you if you don’t take action
- Find out what it takes to improve your situation through continuous and consistent action
One day before deadline, the design of a single page application looked awful, two major features were not ready, and there were multiple inconsistencies in the specification. The application was extremely slow in old Internet Explorer browsers. Styling glitches surfaced in multiple browsers.
Two major bugs were discovered in a page that reminded me of an old bloated form from the 90s. The project did not really look like a success.
Clients were waiting for the software solution, as internal communications already announced deployment.
Management was still counting on miracles, and asked the staff to stay in the office for the whole night. They shouted at developers, and threatened them that they would all lose their jobs if the software solution was not ready.
The employees were all exhausted and demotivated. They were fighting for keeping their job by working 60 to 80 hours a week. But what kind of job are we talking about? Most of them had an average base salary, and no compensation for overtime.
Ultimately, even management saw that the ship was sinking.
Horror stories like this one emerge from time to time in the IT industry. Tyrannic leaders, bullying at work, discrimination, lack of professionalism, lack of work ethics.
After identifying two reasons why people hate their job, we will explore the difference between bad companies and good companies. An action plan for improving your situation concludes this article.
Programming is my passion, but I hate my job
Many software developers emphasize that they develop software out of passion. Yet, the same people continuously experience a large scale of negative feelings during their work: frustration, anger, boredom, lack of motivation, fear, hatred.
When something happens at the workplace, we start an internal narration of this event, also known as mind-talk. Our mind-talk represents our interpretation of the event, and puts us in a box, where we focus on one specific feeling.
Example 1: suppose your manager tells you that he told the board of stakeholders, that an internal administration tool will be launched with all features within two months. Some people focus on the manager, and they feel hatred. Others focus on the act of unprofessionalism, and they feel anger. Others focus on their own life, and knowing they have no other options, they feel the fear of something very bad coming, coupled with worrying and frustration.
Example 2: suppose that you feel you are underpaid. You start telling yourself that you are exploited. The resulting feeling is frustration. Reality is, the company is paying you slightly more than the amount you asked for. However, this information is not in your focus.
What is the difference between the first and the second example? From an objective point of view, it is evident that in the first case, the problem is with the company. In the second example, the problem is rather with your perspective.
It is so easy to experience negative feelings without an external reason. Not even the best company can save a developer with the wrong mindset. In this article, I will not deal with this topic. Be aware that experiencing bad feelings does not automatically mean that you are working for the wrong company.
If you need help on how to find a great place to work for, read my article Find the Workplace of Your Dreams.
Think in the long run
Some of you may work under very bad conditions, and your management may share very unhealthy points of view. If you are only staying at a company because of the fear of earning less money elsewhere, I suggest thinking about a transition plan.
Moving to another company should not be an abrupt process. Resigning tomorrow with nowhere else to go does not make sense. It is still absolutely essential to define high standards, and move towards your goals on a daily basis.
If you are in a situation right now, when disagreeing with your employer may have consequences you are not yet ready to face with, make sure you will never get into this situation again in the future.
If you commit to being a professional for the rest of your career, you will have options by the time you feel like changing. In other words, you will be able to afford to disagree and leave autocratic or tyrannic employers.
The entry barrier to the best jobs jobs is career capital. Whenever you feel your options are limited, think about what you can do today to improve your situation.
My job is not that bad after all…
“I know I work very long hours, and my colleagues don’t respect me, and the code I work on is a mess… but my job is not that bad after all.”
Ignoring the obvious does not help. If there are problems in your life, instead of shifting focus away, it is a lot better to address them. You have two options: either make a difference in your current environment, or find a new environment.
Apathy is one of the worst feelings, as it keeps you in your comfort zone. Many developers only leave their job once it is too painful for them to stay there. Comfort is an illusion, and the price you pay for your seemingly secure job may be very high.
I can’t stress the importance of making the best out of your career. Throughout your 40 years as an IT professional, one year of comfort in a bad workplace has unforeseen consequences. Many IT professionals spend more than a quarter of their career in a comfortable compromise. Some people working for governmental institutions spend most of their career hating their job.
You are most likely still reading this article, because you are searching for the next step in your career. If you are not ready to pay the price of reaching the next step in your career, you have not factored in the price of staying where you are.
You may be an unhappy victim of brogramming, where your fellow programming bros form communities, at the expense of your well-being. In these places, someone else tends to get the promotions and good fame, regardless of how hard you work.
You may be threatening the authority of an incompetent manager. If this manager wants to push you back, or he wants to fire you, it makes little sense to stay where you are.
You may be working sixty hours a week without any extra compensation for overtime. Long hours may be the expectation at your company, in exchange for additional stress your managers dump on you.
Regardless of your situation, make sure you do you don’t start advertising mere lies in your mind, just to justify your current position.
What about Getting Me Out of Here?
All changes start with a true decision.
What is a decision? In Latin, the word decision and scissors have a common root: cid or cis, meaning to cut. If you look at the origin of the word, it means to cut off.
This means, when you truly decide, you cut off any other possibilities. Therefore, a true decision requires commitment. It requires you to say, “I’ve had it, it’s enough, I am not willing to settle for a comfortable job that does not bring me anywhere.”
A decision like this is an internal process, and it comes with a short term pain. It requires you to face your fears. If you need help with facing your fears related to your career, there is a dedicated section in The Developer’s Edge – How to Double Your Career Speed with Soft-Skills on facing your fears. And by the way, this book also describes the rest of the process of transitioning from a bad job into a good one.
I won’t talk about things like “Magic Negotiation Techniques that people in the FBI used for freeing hostages”. We are targeting a new job, where the goal of the interview is to see if you are a right fit for the company, and the company is a right fit for you. Manipulation techniques on their own won’t get you anywhere.
I suggest focusing on becoming your best self. This means you need to be clear about what you want in your career. You have to objectively determine where you are right now, and move to where you want to be. Have a plan, but be flexible as your life changes, otherwise you may miss out on an excellent opportunity just because you were following the wrong plan.
Becoming your best self includes personal branding. Your resume, your clothing, your motivation letter, your blog, your social media presence, and even your GitHub or StackOverflow account all add up to your personal brand. You don’t have to have a personal brand of an entrepreneur to get above average jobs. It still takes effort to get noticed.
Regardless of whether you want to become a leader or an expert, you will meet people. Therefore, any training on emotional intelligence are vital from the perspective of your career, as you reach seniority. Expect some valuable content about emotional intelligence in this blog.
Communication skills are also valuable. Assertive communication, active and constructive communication, and nonviolent communication are all vital assets in your career. Imagine your manager asks you to estimate the target date of your current project. Whose interests will you take into consideration?
If your manager says he has already committed to a lot shorter deadline in front of the board, what will you say? Will you stay assertive, or would you rather choose a passive route accepting the timeline, at the expense of your professionalism?
When an interviewer asks you about a skill you don’t know, what will you say? Are you comfortable with communicating your salary requirements?
All these situations require above average communication skills. Let alone the fact that if you are in the same shoes as I was, and you live in a country, where salaries are low, you will need to learn another language to target a job. Most of the time, you get away with English. In rare cases, it may be worth learning another language.
I mentioned professionalism for a reason. Even though professionalism won’t help you much in a dead-end job, staying professional is a choice that pays off in the long run. Professional attitude coupled with taking maximum responsibility is one of the most valuable assets that will accelerate your career.
In order to target a new position, you need to know about the interview process and salary negotiations. Even though the negotiation process is based on your achievements, your personal brand and your communication, you still need to be able to express yourself, and show your strengths. One way to gain practice is to attend interviews. If you need practice on interviewing, book a free session with me.
Ultimately, your number one asset is your career capital. Continuously gain career capital throughout your career. Your professional attitude will help you in the process.
As you gain career capital, remind yourself that you have the right to work at a great place in exchange for what you have to offer. Don’t hold yourself back!
If you are interested in making some changes in your own career, download the Professional Software Developer’s Roadmap to an Effective Salary Negotiations. Fill out the form below to sign up!