01 Apr Ten signs tell you to look for a new tech job
It could be that you like your job (or maybe you’re not wild about it) but you haven’t yet been able to break through the inertia that keeps you glued to your desk.
It could also be that you think you’ll start your job hunt when the weather’s warmer or after the Cubs opener or some other milestone. If you’re on the alert, you may notice signs. One or more of these 10 signs may tell you that your Midwest technology job search should be getting under way – soon and with vigor. Here’s the list:
Your boss starts communicating everything in writing.
Though you work two cubicles and a conference away from each another, your boss begins to send you e-mail messages for simple requests or to follow up on questions you asked while passing her in the hallway. Read these messages carefully. Do they imply “BCC: HR,” or worse, “BCC: her boss”?
You can’t get a straight answer.
Maybe your annual review happened two months ago but your salary increase hasn’t been finalized. Maybe you were supposed to transfer to a new group before Christmas but it hasn’t happened yet. Why the long delay? Why can’t you get the facts? Companies considering layoffs (not great, but you might get severance) or terminations (no job, no severance and no reference, which is all bad news) need time to get their ducks in a row. The question is: Are you one of the ducks?
Your meeting invitations drop off.
Before your manager started acting distant, you were invited to all the product requirements review meetings. She now pooh-poohs that and tells you it’s much more important for you to finish up the weekly bug-fix report. Somehow, that conference room and you just don’t meet up very often any more. Is this a sign that your place on the company’s internal stock index is slipping?
You’re not copied on messages that are central to your role.
“What do you mean that you didn’t think I needed to know that the customer was freaking out on the phone? That has been my account for two years!” Your boss looks at you vaguely and gives you an off-handed answer (something about matrixed teams and total customer focus). That’s baloney.
Unless the company is interested in transitioning the account to someone else who isn’t you, there’s a rush when there are problems to find the person who brought in the account in the first place. It could be a manufacturing issue that you’re not copied on (despite the fact that you oversee manufacturing). Look out.
You can’t get a face-to-face meeting with your boss.
Two weeks is the standard waiting time for a boss who doesn’t travel a lot or up to four weeks for one who does. Beyond that, if you can’t get a face-to-face meeting scheduled, something is rotten in Denmark.
You go to the boss of your boss for advice and get Hellman’s mayo.
While the boss of your boss is solicitous, a good listener and empathetic, the conversation is as bland as a baloney-and-mayo sandwich on white bread. There’s no real attempt to deal with the issues or search for resolution. Ask yourself: “Has he heard this story before?” If so, he didn’t hear it from you.
If there isn’t some level of surprise in the reaction – as in: “I didn’t know any of this was happening” – be alarmed. If there is an air of surprise but it’s obviously fake, get on Monster.com tonight.
HR is nervous.
HR people get nervous when the object of a performance-improvement discussion comes into their midst. They act skittish and confused because two of their roles are in conflict: the “protector of the aggrieved employee” role and their “supporter of the high-performance demanding manager” role. If your manager has already been to see HR about you – as in: “This employee is a problem” – it will be written all over their faces.
Your manager has her door closed a lot.
If an HR person or the boss of your manager is in there and any of the signs listed so far are in evidence, pull up that old resume on Word and start editing.
You write a direct message to your boss and don’t get a reply.
People think there’s a downside to asking your boss in writing: “Are you concerned about some aspect of my work? That is my impression.”
If they’re being paranoid, they think the boss will think they’re weird and it will taint their relationship. That’s incorrect. There is absolutely no downside to posing the question directly. Unfortunately, your gut is very reliable. You’re not paranoid. If you perceive weirdness, it’s highly likely that it’s there. At least if you ask the question, you’ll force your boss to talk turkey.
Other people avoid you.
When your own gut is in denial, other people’s guts won’t be. They’ll avoid you. While it doesn’t mean they’ve actually heard anything, the wires are humming nonetheless. Pick up the cue and get your job hunt going.
If all these signs are present, what do you do? Give notice? Not in my book. Ask your boss what’s up in hopes that she’ll put her cards on the table and offer you a severance package in exchange for a quiet resolution. Some bosses will play dumb, balk at the severance request and try to get you in a standoff.
The message is: “I’ll treat you like garbage and try to get you to quit but I won’t pay you a dime to go.” You have to decide how much of that you can take. You could end up like the guy in “Office Space” whose desk is in the boiler room but he’s still employed.
If nothing else, your close attention to the 10 signs of impending bad stuff will put you in a good position to react to developments. You’ll also have a head start on your next job search. Wouldn’t it be great to interrupt your boss in one of those hush-hush meetings to give your two weeks’ notice?
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.