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Ask HN: Started job 3 months ago...not going as planned
44 points by rightFootOnly 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 62 comments
I started a job at a fairly large software company about 3 months ago. I was fully prepared for legacy code and dated processes, but in the interview process I was sold on “transformation” and “change”.

Three months in and I am far less happy in comparison to my previous software engineering role. I work on a fairly distributed team, which was supposed to be agile. We don’t have a product manager and our manager isn’t involved much. We are told that we will be getting a PM, but nothing in sight.

I have one colocated team member and they are less than ideal. They fall asleep at their desk or during conference calls and don’t seem to care much about software development in general.

Onboarding and training was nonexistent. It has been pretty much trial and error since day 1.

I feel like I was sold something in the interview process that is not accurate.

Long story short, how long do I stick it out before looking elsewhere or even returning to my last job as I left on good terms?

> How long do I stick it out before looking elsewhere or even returning to my last job as I left on good terms?

Eject, as long as this isn't going to add to an existing pattern in your employment history.

People in the position to hire have more than likely been in the situation where they were sold a bill of goods, gotten on the job, and had to make the same choice.

But if this is going to be, say the third short term gig in a row, then it's going to be a hard sell that the problem has been the employers and not you.

Assuming it's the former, when it comes time to talk to other potential employers and interviewers, state the scenario factually and without rancor. "I was told during the recruiting process that we would be writing the platform in Node, turns out we were hand punching Fortran cards."

Edit (hit submit too soon): if it's the latter, then you need to stick it out for at least 12 months. There are some great comments in the thread about changing the culture, etc. I would add to those to shift your mentality from "this is my employer" to "this is a client for whom I'm going to do the best work I can for 12 months." I can yap a lot more about that shift but if you can create a mental firewall between you and the employer and minimize emotional engagement, doing the time will be easier. :)

> "this is a client for whom I'm going to do the best work I can for 12 months."

Yeah, absolutely agree with this. I made the transition from employee to consultant/contractor, and have no regrets about the decision.

If you can do good work no matter what situation you're dropped into, it means your worth at least twice your salary as a consultant. If you can transform an underperforming group, you are worth even more.

I agree with the above. Try to impact the culture from the ground up. In the meantime try working on new things and share those things with your colleagues who are otherwise not very interested in the job.

If the pay is substantial you should definitely give it another 6 months. I think as workers in general, that we should evaluate the companies and its leaders annually the same way they evaluate us. Hope this helps.

I know one thing: It's not going to get better!

At least unless you channel your inner Napoleon and start transforming the organization yourself.

I don't have that in me, and most people don't, but I hear it can be done.

Im pretty much in the same situation as OP and I REALLY tried to be the Napoleon, but the more you try the bigger resistance you are met with. (You look like the „unfun” and „bad” guy who wants people to actually start doing what they are paid to do)

You just get worn out over-time and give up.

Well being a Napoleon is not something most can do. You must have more skill than pretty much any of your superiors and co-workers but that is only the initial bit. You must then have the charisma to prove everyone wrong (and make them have confidence your plans are better) while making them like you for it.


I've had this type of job before. Twice actually. One was for 2 weeks (which I left for personal reasons not job related), and the other was a similar situation to yours (which I left after 4 months). I just didn't list them on my resume/application at places I applied to later. When asked about the gaps, "I just needed to take some time off. For N years, I've never really taken a long vacation so decided to do that".

If you've got the cash and don't have to have your next gig set up, give your two weeks now and start the mental healing.

Some background checks may reveal to your next employer that you had these jobs, even for a very short period of time.

How about "It just took me a while to find the next thing I wanted to do." Then your explanation make sense whether they think you took a break or find out that you left a job quickly.

Or how about they tell the truth that the job wasn't as advertised and stop worrying about convincing some hypothetical HQ person.

I would be very careful about saying anything that could be taken as being disparaging about past employers to potential employers. That rarely puts you in a positive light no matter how accurate your assessment is.

Better to say another form of the truth: the company was a poor fit.

Yeah, you may as well list it and if asked respond honestly. It wasn't a good fit/the role didn't match the job description, etc.

As an employer, I don't expect every potential employee to list all of their previous roles. Especially for more senior people, I expect that a resume is tailored to show me their best relevant experience. Leaving out a short stint somewhere wouldn't worry me.

I agree, from being on both sides of the interview table.

Although I started doing this around the fifth year of my career, I'm now a graybeard that has been in the business for a very long time and have racked up a lengthy work history. Nobody is going to want to read through a 5 page resume.

My practice for a couple of decades now has been what you state here -- I write a new CV for each position I'm applying for, and only include the things that indicate my fitness for that position. I'm always prepared to provide a complete work history if anyone asks, but I don't remember anyone ever asking.

I agree with your comment, I was just reacting to the recommendation to lie and just say that you took some time off.

As a hiring manager, I would not care at all about a non-comprehensive list, but I would absolutely care about someone trying to hide past employment

Just curious, I've got 15+ years of experience I can put on there. If I simply listed the ones that I thought were most relevant to the position I was applying for, would you ask why there are gaps?

For example - during the 2008 downturn, I worked a job that was not terrible, but used tools and hard skills that were completely non-transferrable to any job I've had since then. So I no longer put it on my resume even though I was there for 2 years. Would that two year gap over a decade ago be a conversation? Assuming of course, that I even put anything prior to 2010 on an application anymore.

I guess for me - do you dig into every gap you see? Maybe they left under good circumstances and just don't want to list the job because they weren't proud of the work they did there.

I guess everyone may have different expectations. On my end, I would just want to see your current position, the one before that, and then a short list of a few past ones you find relevant. So it could be:

07-2019 - Present: ACME blbalbalablablablaba

05-2016 - 06-2019: Tesla blabalbalablablabalbalab

Other relevant experience: * Apple, blablaba * Facebook, blablabla

Yup, this is exactly the right way of going about things. Because when they ask you why it wasn't a good fit, you're able to actually speak up about your experience. Instead of a one sided conversation, you're able to make it your own and interviewers like that. That's my experience anyway.

To be fair, I used to list it.

But I found (n=2) that recruiters/hiring managers got hung up on that one 4 month block vs. the 15+ years of other experience I had on there. One asked "Well if you're going to cut bait and run at the hint of small issue, why hire you?" It's hard to explain, without disparaging the employer, that the 4 months you were there had you in therapy 3 days a week just to keep your sanity :) And it is a he said/they said type situation.

Given how some companies I've worked for used me for their benefit, I feel zero guilt over leaving off the ones that were toxic.

My anecdata of one: As an employer/founder, I wouldn't hold a short stint on your job history against you. I'd give it an equal chance of being a poor employer vs. you not working out. Would likely just ask you about it in an interview. If it were a few short stints in a row, then that might give me pause. But in my experience, this situation is more common than you'd think and any good employer/recruiter is going to be able to look past it.

Would you want to go back to your previous job? It's possible they might want you back if you left on good terms. Would be easier, cheaper, and faster for them than backfilling your position.

I've been there. I had a job where after 3 months... There was a crapton of technical debt, we had a new PM that was useless, no one seemed to know anything, every user story was written for everyone except me, yada yada. I wanted to bash my head in daily. Then one day it got better. The hung on long enough to find a few people who had been around long enough to know a bit about what they were talking about, and then I started learning how they stay sane. A lot of it involved mastering how to tell people they needed to up their game in communication before I was gonna do work they asked me to do.

No magic answer, but in general I find I'd rather work on a fucked up environment where I can make incremental improvement than a good-enough-for-people-who-aren't me environment where everyone is to comfortable to tolerate any changes.

> A lot of it involved mastering how to tell people they needed to up their game in communication before I was gonna do work they asked me to do. Any pointers?

If you thinking stuff as input and output, think about what input to your work makes things so hard. For me, I hadn't worked with a PM that simply didn't get how to talk to an engineer. So I learned how to quantify what I needed before I could start working and then started saying "hey, I need A, B, and C, and they aren't in here."

Have you chatted to your manager about how you feel? They might not know how bad the situation is, or may be in a similarly tough situation. If they don't want to chat you can always try grab a coffee with one of their peers or their manager. People further up the chain might be pretty surprised by what is happening, and a bit of initiative on your part should get recognised.

If they turn you down or you get negative feedback about how you are feeling in the team you should get out of there for sure

No real manager and colleagues who sleep during the day? This sounds like a dream job. You're free to do what you want. Don't rush and quit, work on whatever interests you. If Agile, "transformation" and "change" floats your boat - start doing that. If you really want a job doing something else, start training yourself for those interviews

Before doing this, just find out what you signed when joining regarding ownership of works (things you make during your own time). You will also need to make sure you log that time because even so you don't want to have it look like you worked on things during business hours. (commits etc...)

I imagine they wake up when the new guy ruins the current flow of things.

Or self improve. Or push more changes by yourself.

Be the change you want to see! Did this job offer a substantial bump in pay? If so ride it out while trying to improve the culture\processes. Seems like it's very slow pace so you can spend time leveling up some skills you may be interested in and even implement some side projects to improve the processes and present them to management. If they aren't receptive bounce with a few cool projects under your belt and a couple extra months of pay.

I can't think of a job that I have had that was perfectly described in the job posting. Something is always different.

As far as bad jobs, there is always some opportunity. If there is free time, work on something else or take online classes if the company would own anything you work on. If you are stuck doing busy work, automate.

It is also fair to jump ship. Not every opportunity is worth it. I would say, before you go, try to learn what happened to make this environment so bad. It will be useful later.

Good luck.


Feel no shame in it either, it sounds like the company misrepresented some or all of the role and the team.

Find another role, give standard notice, leave on good terms, but control your departure and exit, don't wait around for things to improve.

You can do this once without any other company batting an eye. If you keep doing this several times in a row then it could be a red flag to hiring managers. I wouldn't worry about it, just put in your 2 weeks and use it as a learning experience.

It is far easier to get a job when you have one. While I agree, one doesn't have to suck it up for a year in shitty role, better to get interviews lined up asap and lock in a new job BEFORE giving notice.

That said, I had one employee renege on an offer (before starting), which ticked me off royally. We had limited slots and he waited a long time to tell us of his decision to renege. That was not cool in my books.

If you're planning to return to a previous position better sooner than later. Either way you should look to getting out of there.

I think 3 months is long enough to figure out if a company is a good fit for you or not. If you're suffering then leave. Particularly if you enjoyed the last place you worked. Folks may ask but just tell them you left of your own accord and you didn't feel like a good fit for the team. Don't do anything suddenly unless you have the cash to make it a month or so or a job already lined up. The leave, be nice about it, and never look back. I did two short stints of around 6 months each before ending up at my current place of employment and they didn't ask anything when I got hired.

Lemme tell you a story...

First week on the job, I'm reporting to an executive multiple layers above where I would typically be, because everyone in between had suddenly been moved / left / positions never filled. I have a contractor reporting to me who is interviewing to be my boss. At the end of the first week, several other managers take me aside and tell me I need to get rid of that contractor ASAP. This sets the tone for the next year, where I have at least four different managers that I can recall. A year later when I'm interviewing for an internal promotion, that I "didn't move fast enough" to remove that contractor (who went on to Google...) is held against me, but I otherwise win the interview loop - only to have the position given to someone else out of essentially nepotism (...and that didn't go well for anyone, but we'll leave it at that). BTW - the team I was working on (as a solo developer...) was the only one in the company generating reliable profits, essentially funding the rest of the (public, at the time mid-sized name brand) company.

This isn't even the only story I have like this in my career. Point being - many of us have accidentally walked into jobs or contracts where things aren't what they seem or what was promised. If you like the overall company and think you can get an internal transfer at some point in the near (-ish) future, then stay. If you think that it was just a big mistake all around, then leave and be thankful that the economy is in good shape and that there are jobs in most metro areas for technical people (unlike after the dotCom / 9/11 meltdown, lemme tell you about that...)

3 months is a long enough time to stick it out. If there is no progress or no light at the end of the tunnel, it is time for your exit. Put your 2 weeks notice period in. Do not burn any bridges and exit stage to the left. Toxic environments are a reality. Make sure you do a lot more research for your next gig. Otherwise, if you keep finding same type of shops and jump ship every few months, the resume will not look good.

I would leave. I had a job last April and I left it in November because it was so boring. I keep jobs where I find I am in a win-win scenario. If I am learning and doing things I find interesting and I feel my contributions are appreciated I continue the work. My interview process at the last company was deceptive as well. I should have left sooner.

edit - expanded info.

I would say that if you see a possibility of recognition 2-3 levels up then you should be the leader that they need. You mentioned "large" so this may be the unlikely option.

However, if you see a chance of leveling up your career faster than in a job you love (but slower advancement), then you should "take over" and put the "owner hat" on -- what decision would the owner (or the board or the shareholders) of this company do and do that. Even if you are 10% better than the next person, that should be evident to the people around you and if this will be visible to people that matter.

You are getting PAID to do a job so you can complain about the job not being right for YOU but a "professional" makes sure that you are doing the job to benefit the company first. Even if it is not with your current position, this attitude and outlook will reward you eventually.

Good luck!

Most companies I've worked for have a formal trial/probationary period of some sort, typically 90 days. Personally, I consider that to be a two-way street -- I'm trialling them just as much as they're trialling me. I have never had a problem with leaving within that window. For the few companies I've worked for that have no such period, I just figure 90 days anyway.

I've left a few jobs that, like yours, were not what I expected -- usually on the last day of the trial period.

Not suggesting an action for you, but if I were in your shoes, I'd just do the same: I'd stick it out for three months and if there's no sign that anything will be improving, I'd move on.

I was in a similar situation once. In the time between my offer letter and the day I started, the company fired every team lead and wanted to position me as a person that would help get the <location redacted> office in line with SF expectations. It was a culture nightmare. Beyond that, there was no engineering leadership at my location and the code was a mess. I could deal with the code, but not while dealing with the anxiety that the culture produced. I quit at three months. To his credit, the CTO was cool with it, noting that three months or less is basically the trial period, and if you back out of the job, no problem.

I'd quit if you can. Pay attention to the red flags.

I would do as others have suggested, hand your notice in now and start looking for your next thing. Maybe try contracting for a while? No need to explain this short stint at all then.

I'm in a similair situation right now myself but almost a year into it. The job description and job title absolutely does not match up with the reality, no leadership / direction and I really struggle with motivation. I have mentioned this but it still continues.

I think the only thing left for me to do is quit, the only problem with that is I have a nice remote deal that would be hard to match. Feeling kind of stuck. I might try contracting myself.

I'm not in the CS world at all but if you're unhappy at a job, start looking for a new one NOW. I used to dig graves and was outside6 days a week with minimal shade. The first time I got sun poisoning I immediately started looking for another job, even took a 2$~ pay cut because being inside in air conditioning was worth not cooking in the sun all day smelling obscene amounts of flowers in various states of decay while smelling diesel exhaust constantly.

Is there any reason to not look now? It sounds like there is a substantial amount of free time. Do some interview prep and start interviewing before you lose all your energy.

I ran into a situation about the same as you. I just explain things to places I was interviewing with that the situation didn't match the interview process and despite my best efforts, I just have to move one. Now, I was lucky that I had been laid off and this was the ``rebound job'', so I didn't have a history of changing jobs. Only one potential employer had an issue with them, but I did find a very good job and moved on.

It sounds like most of your stress is being caused by not having a Product Manager. You should find out what the deal is there from your manager, and if you don't like the answer, then consider leaving. Beyond that I would say, don't leave a job just because it isn't a dev utopia when you walk through the door. A better measure of when to leave a job is when you know that your goals and theirs don't align and never will.

I'm curious how much do jobs like this (this=allow you to sleep on the job while meeting in a conference room) pay? is it north of 150K USD base?

Why can't you raise your hand up to be PM?

> I feel like I was sold something in the interview process that is not accurate.

I would say that's standard practice, on both sides of the table. Everyone tries to put their best foot forward in an interview. Anything not written in the contract might simply have been said to try to close the deal.

Large companies are not known for their amenability to change.

Large companies usually have many different products and teams. It depends on the company, but if you can move to a different org/team/product, then I think it's better than quitting after only 3-months, unless the culture is too toxic or stressful, which doesn't sound to be the case based on your post.

Just start applying elsewhere. If it's the kind of place you can take a nap at, it's also the kind of place where you can leave at lunch for an interview and put out applications while you're dialed into a pointless meeting. Just don't get stuck there.

I've been in the exact same scenario and left my job after about four months. It didn't impact my future job searches at all outside of hiring managers saying "Hey, looks like you left that job fairly quickly, why's that?" All they needed to hear was that it wasn't a good fit and that I was sold something different during the interview process.

If you feel like there's still potential with the company you're at, be straight with your manager and tell them how you're feeling diplomatically. Otherwise, I'd start sending feelers out elsewhere.

Assuming you left your previous job on good terms and want to go back, reach back out! I've been at companies where people boomeranged back ranging from a few months to a week. It's not as uncommon as you think.

I'm gonna play devil's advocate here and point out that apparently this is the kind of place where people can in fact fall asleep during work hours, even during calls. That opens up a lot of possibilities. How about doing the bare minimum and working on bettering your skills on your own? Or even do some side hustle?

A side hustle on company time and equipment? That might not be as good an idea as you portray!

I've worked for a company(or, should I say, corporation) where side hustling was fairly common.

Mostly because the employer had enough money to keep a lot of staff and make them do bullshit projects, half of which wouldn't reach production.

Only instance when someone got a slap on the wrist was when they, ahem, showed the wrong demo. Hilariously enough the only objection here was the perpetrator used company equipment.

The guy who got escalated for going to the swimming pool during work hours(even thought he stayed later to make up for the lost time) upon hearing that was furious.

> Mostly because the employer had enough money to keep a lot of staff and make them do bullshit projects, half of which wouldn't reach production.

This is incredibly common, and not just at big companies. I bet half my time as a developer has been spent building products or features that never went to production. Includes work for startups or small companies where you might expect that in the case of extreme failure, but also for household-name bigcos and everything in between. Throw in products that are scrapped before being the market long enough to make the effort seem worth it, and my experience of this industry has been pretty damn nihilistic. Alienation, I guess you'd say.

Especially because OP said he works for a "... fairly large software company...". I bet they've got a lot of lawyers on the speed dial.

Best to find another team/job. The thing with jobs like this is it's like when you were in high school and you were the only kid in a group that did anything. Everyone just 'expects' you to do everything, because you're 'smart' and 'good' at your job. You push out everything product. It will make you really angry and depressed in the long term, and you will resent the people around you for being so lazy. And you arguably should resent them, but you also will end up resenting yourself for staying.

> doing the bare minimum and working on bettering your skills on your own?

If done correctly, this isn’t doing the bare minimum - it’s actually going above and beyond. What he didn’t clarify is whether or not somebody is breathing down his neck to produce results. If they are, then he needs to push back on that person that he needs some help getting up to speed. If not, he can spend as much time as he wants/needs learning the existing codebase - write some unit tests, try to create an isolated testing environment, do some profiling, read up on all of the libraries/frameworks/tools that the product uses… find useful (but relatively safe, for now) things to do. That may be what they actually want from him. I personally wouldn’t be in a hurry to find a job where somebody was handing you daily assignment, but I also wouldn’t take unreasonable advantage of the situation - if you don’t have a specific task to work on, do something that’s at least work related.

Just bounce if you're not going to grow. Lots of great jobs out there.

No point to stay if you know it is not working out for you

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