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I started working in this team a bit more than a year ago, and it was supposed that it's a position of C# programmer but 95% of the job that I actually do here has nothing to do with C# - it's deployment, scripting, cloud administration, etc. I don't know these things very well, and I don't want to learn them as it would mean pretty much changing my specialization completely.
Any suggestions how to explain in proper corporate speak that we're just wasting time on this, and it's better to find a better position for me in the company? (I know for sure that there are teams in the company that work on the things that I'm an expert in)

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    "Hey, I know this is important but I'm feeling underutilized" might work. Or specifically "Hey, X looks interesting and I'd like to see if they can use me." OTOH, specialization is a trap; adaptability is a very valuable thing.
    – keshlam
    Mar 3, 2023 at 1:37
  • @keshlam this would result in more deployment and administration tasks, most likely. And I don't believe that "jack of all trades" is a good idea.
    – user_ok
    Mar 3, 2023 at 3:15
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    Some familiarity is useful. Panicking when faced with learning some basics is not a good look. By all means make clear that this isn't the direction you want your career to go in, but I think you can probably work with management to make this a temporary assignment until they can put someone else on the job
    – keshlam
    Mar 3, 2023 at 3:36
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    @keshlam doing this for more than one year does mean some familiarity, right? And I've already had more than enough of this.
    – user_ok
    Mar 3, 2023 at 3:56
  • What is your level of experience? Junior? Senior? The expectations are VERY different from each of them...
    – virolino
    Mar 3, 2023 at 10:12

3 Answers 3

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If you're doing so badly, it's remarkable that you've lasted a year already. I'd take it as a sign that you're regarded as sufficient in your current role.

You've also allowed to cool, the argument that you're not reconciled to the work. It verges on bizarre to be saying, a year into a job, that you don't much fancy learning it.

If you really want to move on, it may be time to simply have a conversation about what you want to do, and set a timeframe by which you expect a transfer. If it's not forthcoming, then you seek new employment.

It's also perfectly legitimate to have occupational preferences and dispreferences, driven by prior experience, by personal interests, by personality factors, or by perceptions of market value.

Most programmers can do lots of things, but if you're hired as a C# developer and it's what you regard as your main expertise, then it's not unreasonable to insist that this is most or all of the work you'd be expected to do.

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  • Not badly, just much worse than other things that I can do.
    – user_ok
    Mar 4, 2023 at 17:22
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    @user_ok, well you could try making the argument that you'd be more productive elsewhere, but by the sounds of it they're already getting value from you. Is there a possibility you're currently filling a hard-to-fill position? Ultimately, you may have to simply declare that your current position is over because it doesn't suit your own career preferences, and they either transfer you internally or else you're seeking new employment. (1/2)
    – Steve
    Mar 4, 2023 at 17:35
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    It doesn't need to be phrased confrontationally (unless a previous promise has already been broken), but the point you're trying to get across is that there is about to be a vacancy in your current role no matter what, after some appropriate period of notice from yourself, and the discussion you want to have is about where you move to next. (2/2)
    – Steve
    Mar 4, 2023 at 17:36
  • I like how you phrased it.
    – user_ok
    Mar 5, 2023 at 18:06
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From the way you describe your situation, it sounds like you are particularly concerned that your existing expertise is not being used, almost as if the time you spent learning it is going to waste. I would suggest that you consider a different perspective.

Whenever you work on a project, you are always really developing two separate “products”: on one side, the project’s deliverables, and on the other your own knowledge and expertise. Projects will vary in the ratio between these two - something relatively simple, that you have done multiple times before, will yield very little growth for you, and be very skewed towards deliverables. An R&D exploratory project will be the opposite - it may even fail to yield any actual result, but allow you to challenge yourself and learn a lot.

A company will usually prefer the balance to be towards deliverables - because, ultimately, the growth is yours, not theirs. You take your new expertise with you, in your head - you can even use it to negotiate a better position for yourself, possibly for a different employer. The time you spend learning benefits you more than your company - which is why they will be willing to pay more for someone who already has the required expertise and, for the same projects, spends less time learning and more producing.

You are now finding yourself in a situation where your company seems to be happy to give you quite a lot of learning time. If they gave you projects more in line with the knowledge you already have, you would be more productive, and the project would yield more deliverable for them and less growth for you.

If you don’t care for these new topics, that’s a valid argument. As keshlam says, wanting to do work that you enjoy is a legitimate and reasonable desire. But saying “I don’t want to learn new things because I’ve already learnt some” is shooting yourself in the foot, and not a great look either. Try to work on your discomfort with being a novice again and see it as an opportunity to challenge yourself.

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Been there, done that, in several ways.

"Hey, boss -- I know the company needs someone to cover these tasks, but this really isn't the kind of problem solving I enjoy -- I want to build and repair and extend things, not configure and maintain and baby-sit them. Can you help me move to something more rewarding, either in your department or another? If not immediately, then when?"

If absolutely necessary -- if you're willing to play you-bet-yout-job -- you can add "I'm hearing from friends about the projects they're working on and those sound a lot more engaging." Not a threat to quit; an implied request to help you stay. You might also start actively asking other managers, whose groups are doing the kind of work you want to do, how the projects are going and could they use another person... Note that the closer their group is to yours organizationally, the fewer managers who have to approve the move and the easier it may be to arrange; I jumped divisions a few times but that wasn't easy.

Needs of the company are a legitimate reason to do work you don't enjoy until they've had time to shift it to someone else, or (sometimes) as long as it is something that is being distributed to everyone. But you spend a huge percentage of your life at work; it's legitimate to want it to be challenging and interesting and a growth opportunity and all those things that keep us motivated. Fun too, when possible, or paid well enough that you are willing to put up with it not being fun.

At some point you may need to start a new job hunt to move from 100% DevOps back into Dev or the currently in fashion mixture of Dev and DevOps. But start by trying an internal move; it's a lot less hassle.

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  • It's not just a job that I don't enjoy doing, it's a job that I know much less than other things. It's important.
    – user_ok
    Mar 3, 2023 at 16:16
  • @user_ok: That argument won't fly. Everyone should continuously be learning new skills, and everyone starts in a new skill as a novice If this needs done, inexperienced is better than nobody, and that's how you become experienced. "Can we work toward getting me assigned to something I find more rewarding and can contribute more value to" is a stronger argument.
    – keshlam
    Mar 3, 2023 at 16:46
  • I already have lots of experience, just in a different area. Start over in a completely different area? What for?
    – user_ok
    Mar 3, 2023 at 19:08
  • Because your current department apparently doesn't want you to do what you want to do. Or at least, this should be your approach if management says they don't have anything else to offer you. Like it or not, the department does what management decides the department does. And if that isn't what you want to do, you change departments.
    – keshlam
    Mar 4, 2023 at 5:14

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