By John Sonmez March 19, 2014

I Hate My Job, I Wish I Could Work From Anywhere In The World

After talking with many software developers from all around the world, I’ve come to a pretty startling conclusion: most developers hate their jobs.

I guess it might not be all that startling to you—especially if you are one of them—but, to me, it was kind of a shocker.

I’ve definitely had some jobs I’ve hated, in the past—one in particular. I won’t name names, but I do recall one job I had where my boss was a complete a-hole. I was supposed to be a “programmer,” but he had me running all around a certain big city associated with an apple, doing tech support.

Now, I don’t mind doing tech support—when I am 16 and broke as $#!^.—but, as a kick-ass C++ programmer who just saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars by reverse engineering some propriety binary format and writing a C++ program to interpret the data, I felt my talents were being… underutilized.

On top of that, I had to wear a tie to the office every day and he monitored—and questioned—my every move. It was like living in prison, only I didn’t get to go out to the yard and lift weights.

Expressive businessman in despair on white background

Anyway, when the day came that I finally got laid off from that job, I was ecstatic. It was like I was just told that I had won the lottery or my dead dog had come back to life. (Ok, I’m not so sure about the second one, but you get my point.)

What about you? What do you dislike about your current job?

Perhaps you aren’t quite in the same position I was, but you just have some things that annoy you about your present circumstances—or, maybe you do really wish your boss would die in a horrific car accident—either way, I’m going to take a shot at guessing what’s bothering you.

Your work is not interesting—you want to do cool stuff

Let me guess. When you interviewed for the job, they promised you that you’d get to use the latest version of ASP.NET MVC and do test driven development. The only problem is when you actually started your first day of work, you ended up maintaining some legacy VB6 application that you deploy right into production every night?

Ok, so it might not be that bad, but there is a good chance that if you are unhappy with your current job it is because you are doing work that you don’t find interesting. You want to work with the latest technologies. You want to use that new-fangled Angular.js framework and run it on Node—I know, I get you. I’m with you on that one.

Your boss is a jerk

Sometimes the perfect job is ruined just by having a bad boss. What is that principle that causes a good engineer to get promoted up to an incompetent manager? Oh yeah, the Peter Principle. Let’s just pretend, the current douchebag that is barking orders at you and micromanaging everything you do got promoted because he was a brilliant engineer.

Anyway, having a bad boss sucks. And there isn’t much you can really do about it. If you are in this position, I feel sorry for you—really.

You hate the commute

Ugh. Driving. Ugh traffic. Ugh stupid inclement weather making you late.

I don’t commute anymore, but when I did, it sucked. I hated getting up every morning, getting dressed, scrambling to grab my coffee and get out the door and then driving to some dreary office building.

Sometimes the biggest detriment to job satisfaction has nothing to do with the job itself.

Forced to work too many hours

It is easy to fall into this trap. You take a job and expect to work a normal 40 hour workweek only to find this unspoken expectation that you will work 10 hour days and come in on Saturdays. You answer work email from home. You always feel like you are on the clock.

“I’m going to need you to come in on Saturday… mmmmkay?”

office space

Not doing something meaningful

This one is a big one. If you don’t feel like what you are doing matters, it is hard to find the motivation to keep doing it. I’ve been at plenty of jobs where it felt like the work I was doing was not appreciated and didn’t really matter.

If you work for a small company or startup, this probably isn’t the case, but all too often in the corporate world developers are absorbed into the collective and feel like their individual contributions don’t really count towards much.

No opportunity for advancement

Perhaps the worst feeling of any job is that you have nowhere to go. Maybe you are already at the top of the development track, or maybe the company you work for doesn’t really have any kind of career path laid out for technical people.

It is really easy to bump your head against that glass ceiling and feel like you are just wasting away your years grinding out project after project with no rainbow in sight.

What can you do about it?

Ok, so you might be wondering where I am going with all this. My goal isn’t to make you depressed and hate life. No, instead, I want to tell you what you can do about your situation to make it better.

Interested? Good. Read on.

The obvious solution to hating your job is to find a new one—or even strike out completely on your own. But, finding a new job is sometimes a scary proposition. Most of us would rather stick it out in a non-ideal situation than deal with the pain and fear of change.

But, if you are ready for change—or at least if you are considering it—here are some practical things you can do to help you get a better job.

Improve your skills

The first place to start is with improving your existing skills and perhaps acquiring a few new ones.

If you are stuck in a job you hate, try dedicating the first couple of hours each morning—before you head into the office—to improving your skills and learning new ones.

By paying yourself with the first couple of hours of your day, you’ll make sure you are able to devote some quality time to your own personal development, before your soul-sucking job drains you of the will to live.

STUDIO PC 057

I’ve found early morning is the best time to get some uninterrupted time to grow as a developer. Sure, you’ll have to wake up a bit earlier, but it is worth the sacrifice. Just trade a couple of hours at night for some in the morning—you’ll be glad you did.

Learn how to market yourself

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know it is getting close to the launch date for my “How To Market Yourself as a Software Developer” package, so it probably comes as no surprise that I was going to find some way to plug the course in this post.

But, in all seriousness, and awesome courses you should definitely buy aside, you really do need to learn how to market your skills if you want to get a better job and have better opportunities. I know I beat this horse to death, but I only do so because it is so vitally important.

The truth is, most software developers have the skills they need to get an excellent job—to get the job of their dreams—but, the one thing holding them back is exposure. No one knows that they exist and no one knows the skills they posses.

Most developers aren’t good at personal branding and marketing—I know I wasn’t. I had to learn things the hard way and study quite a bit on the subject. But, guess what? It paid off big time.

Once I learned how to effectively market my skills, I was in the position of turning down job offers instead of worrying about how I would find a new job if I ever lost mine or just couldn’t take it anymore. I’ll tell you the truth, learning these skills easily quintupled my salary. Yes, that is right, quintupled, as in I make 5 times as much money now as I did when I didn’t know how to market myself.

Oh, I have your attention now?

Good.

Sign up here and you’ll be one of the first to know when I launch “How To Market Yourself as a Software Developer” on March 27th. I’ll also send you a 20% off discount code right to your inbox on the day of the launch.

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Bonus: with the right skills you can work from anywhere in the world

I thought I’d throw this one in there since so many people often fantasize about being able to work from the comfort of their own home or to travel the world working from their laptop.

One major benefit of developing your skills and learning to market those skills effectively is freedom—that’s right, freedom.

When you are in high demand, you have many options to choose from, instead of being forced into the only option that is available to you. A skilled software developer who posseses the knowledge to market those skills can find many different ways to work remotely and on their own terms.

You can get the remote, work-from-home jobs, that everyone wants. Those jobs are hard to come by, but if you have a solid reputation and know how to advertise your skills properly, all kinds of doors open for you.

You can also get out on your own and start your own consulting business. When clients are coming to you because of your name and reputation, you can literally just pick up and work wherever you want without having to worry.

So, if you hate your job, don’t despair. Help is within reach, you’ve just got to be willing to invest a little time and money to reach it.

Oh, and if you know someone who needs to read this post… share the love. Smile

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."