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In my field I hold professional credentials that only a handful of others in the world hold. Those credentials are in high demand.

In the late 1990s, I joined a large company and stayed with them for almost seven years. I moved to corporate HQ where I got very burned out, to the point I didn't care what I did next (particularly because at the time I had large cash reserves left over from the dot com years).

Problems start here...

  • I decided to simplify my life and I moved to a small town in the far-North US. Bad decision. After two awful jobs in a three year span, and realizing that I hated snow in May, I moved; when I did this I left about a 2 month gap in my resume because I didn't care (same reasons).
  • After arriving in my new home, I took a contract job where the director loved me and pitted me against a less-capable but much more politically-connected peer. The story I got was that they wanted to push this person out of the company. I am a nice and honest person; the peer was a backstabbing gossip. I left after six months because I did not feel that I trusted my management to do the right thing.
  • I started my own company for a couple of years, but that failed. I lost most of my cash reserves. Dumb, but I tried.
  • At just the right time, I was called by another large corporation. After a month of negotiations we settled on an agreeable salary. I hoped the corporate culture would be somplace where I feel comfortable. It isn't.

Wherever I go, I am usually a political target of my peers because of my professional credentials. Jealous? I don't know; I try to mind my own business, but there are always "those people" at each job.

Here I am in 2012 with literally six jobs in as many years. I am ashamed of my resume. I very much want to work for a company that is small and fosters team work. Unfortunately, I am the product of my own bad decisions. I feel like I am stuck working at this big company just because I hate to have another job transition on my resume.

How can I recover from this?

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To quote Don Draper (Mad Men), "It's your life. You don't know how long it's gonna last, but you know it doesn't end well. You've gotta move forward... as soon as you can figure out what that means. " –  jfrankcarr Jun 4 '12 at 12:06
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those people at each job... I don't want to sound rude, but it seems like you don't have thick enough skin or you yourself are the problem. :/ –  Snuffleupagus Jun 4 '12 at 15:20
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check on Stephen R. Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", either book or the video any one of them should be a good start. I believe not only its going to help you in your career, but also its going to help you in the personal life. you need to treat others the way you want you to be treated with. Good luck with your job and life, its not the end of the world. –  user1258 Jun 5 '12 at 3:04

5 Answers 5

up vote 51 down vote accepted

I suspect you aren't going to like my answer.

First, stay in your current job and learn to deal with things not being perfect. No job is perfect and you seem to have perfected running away when things don't go your way. So the only person who can stop that bad habit is you. Choose to learn how to postively affect the culture instead of running away looking for the perfect job.

You don't say what is wrong with the current postion except you don't like the corporate culture. You also say that people are always getting you politically because they are jealous of you. No, they are getting you politically because you naively believe that you don't have to play corporate politics to succeed in your career.

It is possible (from the way your description of your issues came across to me) that you have pushed people into trying to get rid of you through politics because you come across as arrogant and far superior to everyone else because you have some credential they don't have. Well they have skills you don't have either and no one like to be patronized. That's not jealously, that's "why should I put up with someone who insults me?" So your next lesson (and another reason to stay at your current job while you perfect your skills) is to learn how to play the political game.

Having a rare technical skill set will get you plenty of job offers, but having non-technical soft skills are what help you keep a job.

You say you want to work for a company that fosters teamwork, well first you have to show you can be a team player which the tale of bad jobs tells me you probably are not right now. Team players work with anyone whether they like them or not. Team players don't think or act as they are better and more qualified than any one else. Team players mentor junior people. Team players go along with team decisions and support the managers they work for. Team players don't let others on their team get blindsided by witholding information. From your description I see no evidence you are a team player, so why would I want to hire you in a place that really wants to work well as a team. Again, use your current job to focus on improving your team player skills if that is the kind of place you eventually want to be in.

There is no quick fix for your problem. The best choice you can make is to stay and work through your problems before looking for a job you find more personally satisfying. Quitting again will only re-enforce to employers that you have trouble working with anyone.

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This is the best answer by far... –  maple_shaft Jun 4 '12 at 18:06
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+1 If the problem is with everyone else... it's probably you. –  Phil Jun 4 '12 at 18:44
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@Phil: and if you don't like the sound of that, then it's probably true. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 4 '12 at 12:02

I feel for you I really do, but the best advice I can give you is to learn how to just accept and deal with politics in the workplace.

Politics, backstabbing, coat-tail riders, slave drivers, promise breakers and incompetents are all a fact of life and the workplace. You cannot change that or escape that fact, and a small company is likely going to have some of the same people except the difference now is that everything is do or die and the people that you used to be able to hide or escape from occasionally are front and center in your work life.

This may sound like a Buddhist ideal, but acceptance of that which you cannot affect change is one of the key facets of enlightenment.

Your speech and your question don't convey acceptance, they convey bitter emotions and pointing fingers to others for your problems. The title is good though, because it sounds as if you realize you made some bad career decisions and accepting and acknowledging ones failures is good, but still you seem to hold a grudge against certain people as if they forced your hand to move jobs.

Any job where you voluntarily leave because of unfavorable conditions is your own conciuous decision and that is something I had to learn too. I am not saying that this is always a bad decision, but I have looked back at certain people and decisions that inspired me to leave a job in anger, only to find I jumped from the frying pan into the eternal torment of the lake of fire. Only when I truly had a taste for what a TERRIBLE job really was, then I started to look back on the old job not really minding incompetent management and a credit stealing tech lead.

In the future, grow some thicker skin and learn to take more abuse. IT is tantamount to constant abuses and we all do better when we learn to accept this.

My second piece of advice to you is to have more respect for your peers. The way you talk about your certifications and how others may be jealous of you because of them convey an attitude of snobbery. I have learned in my career that certificates are meaningless. The worst network admin I have ever met in my life was Cisco certified, and the guy who fixed all of the problems he created was an intern majoring in Pyschology.

Forget your certifications and force others to acknowledge you for your proven strengths and passions as well as your many years of valuable experience. Certifications should be nothing more than a tie breaker between two perfectly matched job candidates.

My third piece of advice to you is that the IT world is changing and has been for some time. In the old days, the tech guy would be doing the tech thing, and the MBA sets the business direction. Ne'er the two shall meet. That model didn't work very well in the business world, primarily because MBA's typically had no idea what the tech guys where really doing and they made terrible business decisions with regards to IT.

The role of the tech guy became that of the IT guy who was intune with business decisions, direction, and how to solve business problems with use of technology. In other words, the tech guy's old career was transformed to be that of a business guy as well, not because the tech guy failed the business, but because MBA's were failing business.

It is now a fact of life and in every job I have ever had, where I had to thoroughly understand the business model, direction and problems facing the business in their entirety, and in much more detail, than the Manager who has the MBA degree. I even have to have the ability to articulate the business model and direction to managers so that they understand what is really going on.

So basically the expectations rise for the tech guy to a point where you are inevitably EXPECTED to do your managers job as well, but the busines world hasn't yet evolved to the point of shedding the bean counters and status keepers.

So my final piece of advice is to evolve beyond the tech guy and actively try to learn how to do your bosses job for him. Learn the business, talk business with the boss, actively think of technical ideas that could benefit the business and you will have a much more comfortable job in the IT world.

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Thank you for this feedback. I am not sure how you seem to derive so much about me based on a description of a six month engagement, but I do agree that IT==abuse. One question though, how are you answering the question I asked? –  yueerhu Jun 4 '12 at 16:22
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@yueerhu I have good instincts, and you sound a LOT like others that I know VERY well. I am answering your question about how to recover from bad career decisions by pointing out lessons you can learn from some of your past failures and also pointing out potential issues that you probably haven't looked into introspectively. We learn from our mistakes and acknowledging our flaws, we all have them, and the only way to recover from them is to prevent these mistakes from being repeated over and over, which it seems like you have been sufferring from (6 jobs in as many years, ouch). –  maple_shaft Jun 4 '12 at 16:37

I agree with maple_shaft, but I'd like to add a bit from the perspective of someone who has been near where you are fairly recently, and who is coming out of it.

Yes, you should learn to understand office politics, but this is easier said than done. I recently spent a lot of time poring over the letters in officepolitics.com, and I learned a lot from it about what to do and not to do, how to say things and not say things.

Also, if there is any way possible, find a job where the boss and the team are nice to a fault. Yes, this does tend to result in a situation where no one wants to tell anyone else they are wrong, which can cause technical pain. However, you need to heal right now, in an atmosphere where no one is out to get you in any way. After several months in such a position, you will start to realize that a lot of the bad things that happened to you were directly caused by the defensive reaction you had after several bad experiences.

You will be able to step back and see how you could have done things differently (whether the other person is at fault or not, there is often a way to keep whatever they're doing from causing a problem for you).

If you can't find such a job (they are rare!) somehow you'll have to create a calm mental area for yourself where you are. Once you've recovered from your wounds, you'll get your confidence back.

Hang in there!

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Many reasonable answers on the topic already, perhaps this may no longer be actual.

Just to add: You seem to stand at retrospection stage of your career and many answers here point you to do some intro-spection. It's a good point indeed, yet I would also agree with you that many places are politics driven, as result the people who stay there are more skilled just at that, the politics. No matter how willing you'd be at "team-work", the politics will be the name of the game.

BUT other places exist too, with different people and cultures! When someone says "it's not you - it's me" (or vice versa), in fact it's usually BOTH. No need to fall into the same pattern.

So if you believe your credentials put you in the "target" spot, then perhaps there're places where people will have skills either matching or surpassing your own. Have you considered places that would encourage you to learn from peers even before you could share any superior knowledge that you have?

We all learn, so any new interview gives you chances to learn about that place and culture. If you just tune your radar from naturally advertising yourself to sensing the people who already work there.

Finding the Team is more like finding your place in a team. Hope this makes sense. Good luck!

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Wherever I go, I am usually a political target of my peers because of my professional credentials. Jealous? I don't know; I try to mind my own business, but there are always "those people" at each job.

For dealing with the current job situation, you might seek out a coach. I have a friend who found getting a coach useful when she landed a job that was supposed to be a challenge and revealed itself to be an ordeal.

Unfortunately, I am the product of my own bad decisions. I feel like I am stuck working at this big company just because I hate to have another job transition on my resume.

How can I recover from this?

Offhand, I'm going to recommend The Five O'Clock Club for finding the kind of workplace environment that's a match for you. Even if you can't afford their prices, they offer a number of free material online and through other sources. By reviewing their methodology, I believe you'll have enough of a headstart to begin finding an enriching workplace setting.

Remember that 9 out of 10 businesses fail. You've got one down. Only 8 -- at most -- before success.

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Sorry to ask, but have you gone through the question yet. I dont think so the OP is asking for How much time should i fail in my business to be successfull. –  Sahil Mahajan Mj Nov 5 '12 at 6:07

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