I've been in the wrong job before. We all have. You come in everyday do just enough to keep your head above water and not get noticed for being incompetent, while putting in as little effort as possible.I realized it was time to hit the old dusty trail, when the highlight of my day was when mail guy came by - Finally some stimulating conversation! I probably would've left earlier if I had taken a closer look at what was really bothering me. Read on for some of the early signs that I missed that would've helped me realized sooner that i was working at the wrong job

  1. You don't want your boss' job
    This one is key and very easy to lose sight of when you are busy keeping your head down to meet your day-to-day deadlines, but is something you really should take some time to think about. If you don't want your boss' job, or even your boss' boss' job, then what are you working for? Is this something that you can make a career out of?
  2. You can't be paid enough
    No matter how much you're getting paid, there's no salary that will keep you happy enough to continue doing this day in and day out. Truthfully, any raise or bonus you get will only buy you 3-6 months of happiness before the shininess of the new check wears off. If this is you, then you're in the wrong job.
  3. New Projects seem to pass you by
    If the answer is always no when you ask to work on a new interesting project, or you never even hear about new things that are coming down the pipeline, it's the wrong job for you
  4. You aren't changing the bottom line
    If you can conceivably disappear from your desk for hours on end and no one would blink, it means you're not making a difference in your company, its the wrong job for you
  5. The 80 - 20 rule
    If you're miserable more than 20 percent of the time, its the wrong job for you

If any of the above applied to you, you're either an intern so this post doesn't apply, or you should seriously consider making a career move.

Comments (11)


1) So if I'm a pro hockey player, but hate coaching, I should quit?


do just enough to keep your head above water and not get noticed for being incompetent, while putting in as little effort as possible.



If any of the above applied to you, you're either an intern so this post doesn't apply, or you should seriously consider making a career move.

Good post, I can definitely relate. My question: Assume you've figured this out after a few months and are ready to move on--How do you explain in interviews that your last position was "just wrong" without sounding too negative, or coming across as bashing your prior company?

One louder.


All are incredibly relevant but I'd say 1 and 4 take the cake.


Time to make my move!

The hills are alive with the sound of horsepower! - Jeremy Clarkson


The 80-20 rule is a tough one to get behind, just because at junior levels with just about anything you're not necessarily going to enjoy it 80% of the time. This leads to the importance of #1. If you are in a position you do not like, but your boss' job is appealing, then you want to stick it out. If you do not want your boss' job, even if you like where you are, it is time to start planning ahead and making strategic moves as early as possible so you can find a place where you actually have an intrinsic desire to move up and be where your boss is and beyond.


Simple yet golden list. I wish I would have seen it a few years ago, #1 would truly have a made a difference. With that being said I have 17 months left on my government contract before I can switch careers.

"I am always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though."
-- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


TL;DR: This guy is spot on... and you gotta spot these things early on (IE if you screwed the pooch and took a shit job, don't mope around for 10 months trying to make a go of it/avoid a messing up your CV... JUST LEAVE). This is how I spent 10 months in the non-profit sector:

Lol... Brilliant... in reference to my brief stint at a non-profit specializing in "Innovation Management"

1) You don't want your boss' job

My boss was a terrible procrastinator, staying late at work for interminable other meetings with other idiot department heads. MBA from some Italian program that nobody's ever heard of, his only previous post MBA job was lasting barely 3 months before leaving McKinsey because of work-life balance. Plus a ton of bitterness about not making as much money as his peers from high-school / college / MBA, which eventually escalated to him making snide comments about my new gig when I had left. So... being unhappy about the money you make, working a ton despite clearly not wanting to do that much work... no thanks!

2) You can't be paid enough

Don't get me started. I was paid well (at least by non-profit standards)... the base at this place was equal to my base+bonus as a 1st year analyst at MBB consulting firm (OK nobody here is impressed but it goes a long way in South America). And I was still crying in the car going home every day.

3) New Projects seem to pass you by

When I got there, they had hired somebody else to work on the new projects that I was supposed to take, and I was assigned to an internal consulting role which meant that other people would ask me to Google things for them. I literally can think of nothing I did in the 10 months I was there. So... what new projects?

4) You aren't changing the bottom line

I LITERALLY arrived at work 30 minutes late and left at 6:00 PM on the dot every day. LITERALLY every day I would play Angry Birds in a bathroom stall between the hours of 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM. LITERALLY I once went on vacation and people did not believe I had been out of the office (and in Finland no less) when I came back. I think I can count on one hand the number of times my phone rang while I worked at this place.

5) The 80 - 20 rule

I was miserable at least 80% of the time and contemplated suicide constantly.


Good list, OP. However, in my experience it's usually not that people hate their jobs, but rather feel like their jobs are mediocre. They're not unhappy, but they're not happy or excited either. I think that's why people spend so much time in jobs they don't like, because the job is also not that bad. Maybe after 5, 10, or 20+ years they realize that they should have been doing something they were passionate about, instead of something that they were just content with.


I think 1 and 2 don't really apply well to trading. My boss probably spends half his time doing management stuff, meetings etc. The rest of the time he trades. I spend all my time trading and don't want to have the managerial responsibility at all. This applies to a lot of people at our desk. In terms of pay, I don't think a trader in the history has felt that he was paid "enough". You always feel like you deserve more.

Still, good post.

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