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I'm two months into a new job where I was hired on the basis of being this superstar in a number of areas based on various achievements I have. I was referred to the job by a former co-worker who works at this new company. The achievements are a mixture of prominent industry awards, creative uses of technology, presentations, prominent written articles, scholarships, and other fluffy stuff. All this stuff let my referrer get me an instant interview, get me plenty of additional interviews, and get me an offer within a week. In hindsight, it did seem like they were only half listening to me in the interviews.

The problem is, none of that stuff is my job. I don't write any text for the company, so them valuing my writing skill is stupid. I am not a senior developer and work on a team of only senior developers and am just a two year experience code monkey so I have no meaningful input on how software turns out. I don't meet clients or frankly even know who buys the product I write code for so my presentation skills are worthless here. It doesn't help that I am a fairly average developer when measured on pure software skill. I am a software developer drone. I am fine with that as I can detach from work and just go and do fun projects myself. But that apparently makes people unhappy.

Anyway, because I only stayed at my prior job for one year I want to at least wait this one out for a year before moving on. How do you kind of just exist on a software team without attracting too much notice? Basically I want to be forgotten until I can tunnel my way out.

Edit: By whispers I mean that I have overheard people complaining about me being not what they thought, in particular a convo between my boss and his boss saying that "[my name] is not what I expected."

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    Could you elaborate on the Now I hear whispers.. Nothing in the sub-text flags any issues for a new hire in a job such as poor performance and you may use your skill's further down the line but at only 2 months, I'd doubt it. – Dean Meehan Oct 7 at 10:03
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    "The achievements are a mixture of prominent industry awards, creative uses of technology [emphasis mine], presentations, prominent written articles, scholarships, and other fluffy stuff." Apparently, that's what they want from you? Schedule a meeting with your manager where you discuss expectations and goals. You should also discuss with your manager what you would need to do this for your new company (training, different responsibilities, ...). – Roland Oct 7 at 10:50
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    You seem to find absurd they hired you for a job which has nothing to do with your qualities. It indeed seems absurd. But why in the first place did you apply for a job that has nothing to do with your qualities? Where you lied to in any of these many interviews it seems you had? Was the position function description misleading? If not, I would say that both company and you failed in having meaningful job interview... – Laurent S. Oct 7 at 15:30
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    I think reading between the lines, the problem here is that the company have hired a good technology all-rounder with strong communication skills, but only (by his own admission) modest coding skills and experience, and placed him into a specialist (and perhaps rather routine) role that exclusively leverages his coding skills. And to those who query why he applied for such a job, it's almost impossible to judge what a job contains until you've done it, and he may (not unreasonably) have assumed that an employer would know their own role and were matching him to his strengths. – Steve Oct 7 at 16:30
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    Rather than aspiring to become a disengaged employee, have you considered seeing whether the company has any interest in letting you switch roles to something that better fits your actual skills and experience? – Aaron Rotenberg Oct 7 at 20:52
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Have you tried discussing this with your manager?

If you think they will be willing to engage then you should have a conversation with them about your strengths and weaknesses and ask if they can see a way to better utilise your strengths within the team.

This will be a tricky conversation to navigate but, as far as I can see, is the only way to salvage the situation.

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    Communication is usually the good way to solve things. +1 – virolino Oct 7 at 12:59
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    This is especially good because at 2mo in, you are still just ramping up. – Michael McFarlane Oct 7 at 18:16
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A few points which will help you not getting noticed in a negative way.

  • Be aware of all the procedures/rules you have to follow in your work and don't deviate from them.
  • If you have the time/freedom to do so, go for quality instead of quantity in your work. Better to fix 1 thing perfectly than to fix 3 things half and introduce a new bug in the same time.
  • Engage in chit-chat during work as little as possible
  • Never bring up any controversial (political) topics at work.
  • Don't show any romantic interest to anyone at work.

This being said, only having the ambition to "fly below the radar for a year" is very negative and only increases the chance to get fired in my opinion. I think that by showing some enthusiasm, initiative and willingness to learn it will make it far more likely that your higher-ups will want to keep you despite just being average.

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  • Better to fix 1 thing perfectly than to fix 3 things half and introduce a new bug in the same time. Exactly; nothing will earn you the wrong kind of attention than someone having to stay at work late to clean up your mess. People will definitely remember that. – Mike Harris Oct 10 at 19:50
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How do you kind of just exist on a software team without attracting too much notice?

That's a bit deviant but I'll give it a go:

  • Make sure your work is spotless, I'm not saying work as hard as possible but whatever you are assigned make sure there are 0 issues. Spelling this out the important part here is to thoroughly test your work
  • Make sure you do everything assigned to you. Make sure you have work items written down and assigned to you. They may be expecting someone to take initiative and do things that aren't specifically written down I wouldn't do that. I would just make sure everything is assigned properly and you do it
  • Give high estimates when asked. That's right if you are asked for how long something will take and you think it'll take a week say it'll take 3 weeks. Make sure it's all in writing and not verbal so if someone walks up (In COVID world that would be on a zoom meeting or such) and say how long will it take to do blah ask them to follow up with an email
  • Make sure any expectations of your work are formal. So rather than a quick chat ask for a 1 to 1 with your line manager and make sure your objectives for the next 6 months to a year are clear

Why did I mention all these things? Well once something is formalised your manager is less likely to question your work formally right. You can go back and say well we discussed and agreed I was to do X, Y and Z. If they have beef with that or the way you are acting it's a formal process which will take months and give you ample time to see the writing on the wall. If everything is informal it's easier for them to say that you are underperforming because it's going to be subjective. It'll be that's not what I said or that's not what I meant. If it's in writing you can point back to what you have been assigned and say that's what you've done.

Being like this too much will eventually get you fired I think as the job of any software developer is to be able to take their own initiative rather than constantly be spoon feed but I think you could drag this out with a reasonable company for at least a year.

With this in mind I'd say this is a learning opportunity to improve yourself rather than just fake it for a year and move on. It would also be better for your career in general if you actually tried to do a good job and learned what you needed to move up in the company and earn some of your peers respect.

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