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I have been facing some ongoing issues related to excessive workload in my current job, and my attempts to address the issue with both my manager and upper management have not resulted in any progress on the matter. As a result, I am actively searching for a new job.

Recently, my manager called me into a meeting and proceeded to chew me out regarding tasks that weren't being completed in time or things that have gone completely overlooked. I took the opportunity to reiterate to him the type of workload I am dealing with. As a follow up, I put something in writing where I basically asked him to do his job as a manager and prioritize the tasks that he wants done.

This past week, my manager assigned with a project that is completely out of scope of my current work duties and it is on top of my normal work duties, which I am already very far behind in. My manager still has not provided any form of feedback regarding prioritization of work and my attempts to ask him about this have resulted in sarcastic responses. Based on past interactions with him, I feel that he would waste no time in blaming me is something goes wrong either in relation to my existing workload or this new project.

Based on everything I have mentioned, I am seriously considering resigning. My question is this: given the fact that I am currently looking for a job, is my professional reputation at stake if I try to wait things out as opposed to resigning immediately? The company has a no reference policy, so I am unclear as to what can actually follow me once I do leave.

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    "I basically asked him to do his job as a manager". I hope you didn't phrase it like that. – DJClayworth May 1 at 15:50
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    Perhaps he is deliberately overloading you so that he can get rid of you for poor performance... Horizons new may be a good option, at least avoid the stress you are under now. – Solar Mike May 1 at 15:52
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    I fired myself when two superiors tried to trow me under the bus, and took 1.5 months of fantastic holidays. – Rui F Ribeiro May 1 at 18:03
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    @SolarMike That's called Constructive Dismissal, and it's illegal in most First-World countries. – nick012000 May 1 at 22:33
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    @nick012000 Doesn't mean it doesn't still happen, unfortunately. – JAB May 1 at 22:41
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What is always the recommended sequence of things: You look for a new job. You get a job offer, and sign a legally binding contract. Then you give notice to the old company. That’s how it’s done, that’s the way that is safe for you and absolutely professional.

As far as your old company is concerned: You do work as you are paid for. If your manager assigns more work to you, that’s no reason for you to rush or work overtime. You both know it’s more work than you’re paid for. And what’s the worst that can happen? They can fire you, and none of the work gets done.

So don’t rush your job, don’t work overtime, take the time for writing CVs, applying to jobs, going for interviews. Your manager and his manager are obviously not the type that you owe any loyalty.

Good luck for your search for a better job.

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    This! Work hard and well, for the time you are being paid, and let the rest go undone. Then go home and don't think about it. If there is more work than you can get done, if needed work is not done, that is the manager's responsibility. Don't care more about the work than the manager does - and if the manager cared more, he'd try to get adequate resources. – thursdaysgeek May 1 at 16:38
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    AND. Document everything in email. I am working on "Task A" , please let me know if you would like me to work on a different task. I am now working on "Task B" as you stated I should work on this and have put "TASK A" on hold. Have fun while you ride out in the sunset. – paulj May 1 at 18:18
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    There is nothing professional or unprofessional about getting a job offer before you give notice. That's strictly personal choice. Your professionalism happens between the employer and you, not between two employers. You quit when you decide to quit, period. – Agent_L May 1 at 19:39
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    @Agent_L It's not about being professional, it's about making sure you don't have to deal with being unemployed if you can't find a job within your notice period (or your current employer decides to just let you go then rather than have you work for the notice period). – JAB May 1 at 22:44
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    Also, if they fire you (without cause), you can collect unemployment benefits (in the US, anyway). – jamesqf May 2 at 3:21
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Minority opinion: In certain circumstances it's perfectly fine and actually helpful to resign without having a new job lined up. These circumstances are not that rare:

  1. You have reasonably employable skills,
  2. Good performer with decent achievements and ok resume
  3. Work in an industry that's overall healthy,
  4. Your professional network is active and up to date
  5. You have a 6 months of living expenses in savings and no pressing financial commitments or needs
  6. You (and your family, if applicable) have a normal level of risk tolerance

If you meet all of these to a reasonable extent, it's pretty safe to move on. In fact it can help your job search: you can fully focus on it and you are much less stressed out through your day time job. It's also much preferable than getting fired or dinged for bad performance, which is a real risk here.

On the downside: it's somewhat more risk and it's a little harder to land a job when you're unemployed.

Since you already have been looking, you probably have a sense already how this is going: are they good opportunities, do you get call backs & contacts, etc. This will help assessing the risk level.

Now if you do NOT meet all of the conditions above, it's safer to stick it out and find a new job.

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    I have done it and took a well deserved vacation. A good filter to filter out future idiots that who you do not want to work with is "I fired myself and took a one month vacation at....". – Rui F Ribeiro May 1 at 18:01
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    Items 5&6 should be higher on the list – aaaaa says reinstate Monica May 1 at 18:33
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    "little harder to land a job when your unemployed" - I disagree. It's easier to land a job, since you can take jobs "starting tomorrow". If you're keeping your previous job, you're bound by notice period (breaking which is highly unprofessional). Also, if you're stressed by current job, as OP is, it could be detrimental on an interview. On the other hand, some people stress from not having job even more... – Agent_L May 1 at 19:43
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    #5 is the list. – Mazura May 1 at 20:08
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    @gnasher729 Money are of no use if you're not spending them. Savings are not a value of their own. The only purpose of savings is to be used when needed. OP is in unhealthy situation that's wearing them down, so that's a handbook case of "what to spend your emergency fund on". Because healing that damage could turn out to be way costlier than 6 months worth of savings. – Agent_L May 2 at 6:06
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Based on everything I have mentioned, I am seriously considering resigning.

That's pretty reasonable, but be very, very careful about resigning before you have another job to go to. It is easier to get a job when you already have one, and you don't risk being without pay for a substantial time. It would be much better for you if you wait.

is my professional reputation at stake if I try to wait things out as opposed to resigning immediately?

Not sure whether you expect your reputation to suffer if you wait, or suffer if you resign now, but neither is likely to put a permanent blot on your career. Are you concerned that your current employer will give you a bad reference? Situations like yours are not infrequent, and a single reference from one employer is unlikely to materially affect your career if you have a story like this one. Likewise an employer is not going to refuse to employ you because you cut and run.

Having said that an employer may be interested in knowing how you resolved the situation (depending on what kind of job you are in) and if you do't resign immediately then it's worth making some attempt to fix the situation. Even if it doesn't work it's a learning tool for later.

There are other questions on the site about how to handle unreasonable demands and a manager who won't prioritize. Read them, but the most important is to make sure you have communicated your problems, and what you need, in writing. If you don't get a good response then definitely consider escalating to your boss's boss, and/or HR. You may not be the first person this has happened to, but if all the victims quit without saying anything then higher management has no reason to take action.

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    i think it might be useful to add obligatory disclaimer: don't assume you have a job until you signed a contract. – aaaaa says reinstate Monica May 1 at 16:25
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    Not sure whether you expect your reputation to suffer if you wait - I suspect the OP may be worried about getting fired or something. Getting fired can look worse then resigning, when looking for a new job. – Zoredache May 1 at 17:08
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My question is this: given the fact that I am currently looking for a job, is my professional reputation at stake if I try to wait things out as opposed to resigning immediately?

Your professional reputation should never be at stake for doing the work that has been assigned to you. Continue to do the work at your current company to the best of your ability and continue to look for a new job. Once you have signed an offer with a new company you can hand in your resignation at your current company and all your troubles will be behind you.

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    Just to add to this, performance reviews are not forwarded to future employers, so you really do not have to worry about your reputation,if your boss gives you a hard time for not completing overwork. I would actively look for a new job in the meantime, since it appears unlikely that the overwork situation is going to change. This supervisor seems to have a reluctance to learn how to prioritize appropriately and perform adequate resource planning. – JanetPlanet May 1 at 16:31
  • @JanetPlanet Depend on where you work. Here, performance reviews in the public administration sector do follow you up if you ever do want to apply again. – Rui F Ribeiro May 1 at 18:02
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If you're getting loaded up with work, the most important thing is to quantify that work.

For all your currently outstanding tasks, including the one he's just given you, estimate how long they'll take. Use a three-point estimate (best-case, expected, worst-case) so that you're covered if he says "you said that would take 4 days, but it took you part of Friday as well". If you're being overloaded, this lets you state how much you're overloaded by. Having a lot of pending tasks isn't necessarily a problem, of course, but he does need to let you deal with them. Putting this in writing gives you a reference point. In 2 weeks time, if he's given you more work, you can send another email for the latest state of everything.

And in that email, say explicitly "Since you haven't given me other instructions, I will prioritize tasks A, B, F and G, in that order. Please let me know ASAP if that needs to change."

And finally, try to copy this to at least one other person in the company name

This is what he should be doing as a manager, of course. But if he isn't, it's your opportunity to take the lead. At worst, you've got evidence of constructive dismissal. At best, it makes you look proactive to other people in the company.

As for resigning, no-one else can help you make that decision - it's got to be up to you whether you do or not. But if you've got this done, you can tell any potential interview what you did to try to resolve the situation, and you'll look good as a result.

  • This is a good approach if the OP doesn't resign. There is a big difference between "I told them I was overloaded" and "I showed I had 3 months of work which all had to be done by the end of the month". It may also help the OP de-stress about the work while looking for a new job, but I'd suggest changing the comment on resigning from "no-one else can help you" to "at the end of the day it is going to be your decision". – Dragonel May 2 at 19:56
  • @Dragonel Thanks - tweaked the answer slightly for that point. – Graham May 2 at 23:02
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is my professional reputation at stake if I try to wait things out as opposed to resigning immediately?

It kinda is. Your professional reputation is not at all references given to your next employer. Your professional reputation is what your co-workers think about you. So far, your manager is probably successful in portraying you as someone who can't deliver. They know they're giving you too much work and you know that. But other people may not notice this "detail". Others may remember you as "the guy who got buried under 3 jobs and endured X months" or they may remember you as "the guy who failed to do his job". That's the danger to your reputation.

There is another point that you manager may be up to something. The extra workload could be a pretext they're building up to do you harm. Like firing you for not doing your job. Again, that's something mildly dangerous to your reputation.

But that's not very relevant. Some people will always remember bad things about you and there is nothing you can do about it. The only part that matters is "can you afford few months of unpaid vacation?". Life is to short to be wasted on dealing with stupid people.* If you can afford that, I recommend you to quit now, because the failure to address your concerns and the extra, out-of-scope workloads are excellent points as they are now. You will also get freedom of mind from stress at your current job and more time to focus on your job search.

*people you consider "stupid". That's subjective.

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    No. Every time I've changed jobs in IT, they wanted title&date verification. They were interested in managers' recommendation, but it was always optional. Nobody asked anything of coworkers, nobody valued their opinion. Recruiters assume that even the lamest can find one or two polite peer recommendations. But you're right about burnout affecting the search. – kubanczyk May 1 at 21:47
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    "You will also get freedom of mind from stress at your current job ... " The stress is gone once you decide to leave. Project not finishing on time? You don't care. Boss angry that you can't do twice as much work? You don't care. – gnasher729 May 1 at 23:24
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    @kubanczyk OP asked about professional reputation, you're talking about references. The difference is that references work one time, reputation lasts you a lifetime. – Agent_L May 2 at 5:57
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    @Agent_L I would argue that reputation is not always (rarely) carried over from one job to the next. Especially if the employee can bring up the issues that OP mentioned. I personally would not hold OP's manager opinion of him in high regards for example. – Blub May 2 at 8:22
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    @Blub Reputation is among people, not companies. Whenever you meet someone you had worked with, your reputation precedes you. If I learn that OP is a lazy bastard who can't handle a simple task today, I will recommend not hiring him to my future boss some years later. I don't even need to know him directly. There were many times when higher-up asked me about potential candidate and I've said "I've worked with them and they're X" or "I've heard Y about them" or "someone I trust said Z about them". That's what "reputation" is. It always carries over, unless you emigrate far away. – Agent_L May 2 at 16:26
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  • Do your thing.
  • Don't let them push you to do any unpaid overtime.
  • Don't care so much about professional reputation.
  • Have some faith.
  • There are people who know the truth about you and your skills regardless of "reputation" and who have power muuuch bigger than any of these little glorified emotion jugglers we call managers.

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