I came up with my question after reading this one.

I've been in the face of a seemingly impossible problem a couple of times in my career, one of which I distinctly remember failing at (not my only failure by any means, just that this one stung). It was truly a bitter feeling, knowing that after months of work, I was only able to come up with a sub-par solution, and not having learned much in the process.

The above failure I mentioned was in a previous position, and it was a major reason behind my departure from my old company, because indeed, I didn't feel like a competent employee. Reading the question about resigning due to incompetence reminded me of those days. Thinking back, I can't help but wonder if I could have approached it differently...

So my question is: is it possible for us to objectively determine whether or not we are a good fit for the jobs/companies we are at? What questions should I be asking myself before I decide to "resign due to incompetence"?

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    I don't understand why you need to objectively work out if you are a good fit. Subjectively is all that matters- Do you feel like you are a good fit or not? Take responsibility for this decision instead of trying to defer to some non-existent objective best-fit test. But inform your decision by talking your issues through with your manager. – Marv Mills Dec 2 '15 at 9:15
  • And does your employer think you're a good fit? Ask your manager what you can work on to be a better fit, and/or how to find an assignment that you want to be a better fit for. Employee development is supposed to be part of a manager's job but you need to help them help you, and sometimes teach them how to help you. – keshlam Dec 3 '15 at 2:06

If you are a bad fit, these would be some of the signs:

  • Not being able to solve/get around with most of the tasks and/or projects
  • Having no interest whatsoever to read up or dig into the problems which are hindering you to solve the above task/project
  • Being highly unproductive for a considerate stretch of time, mainly due to lack of interest and motivation
  • No interest to improve at work, be it polishing the code or writing good quality documentation and/or code
  • Eagerly waiting for the clock to strike 5 (This might not be a strong indicator, but sometimes it is)

Or sometimes it would be simple because you wanted to experiment yourself with that particular domain, and after some time realize that you simply don't like it or don't fit into it.


What questions should I be asking myself before I decide to "resign due to incompetence"?

You should ask yourself a number of questions, first and foremost:-

1) Is this my fault? Am I failing this test or is my management putting me in an unreasonable position which I never said I had the skills to be in? Who is misrepresenting my skillset?

2) Am I sure I cannot soldier through the problem/s? How much extra time and effort would I need to solve the problems?

3) Am I totally in over my head, or just not prepared to put in the effort?

and, most importantly

4) Have I discussed the issues thoroughly and professionally with my manager and tried to come up with solutions?

The answers to these questions should give you a much better idea of what you should do.

  • Does question 1) really matter? Whether I applied for a job or my management put me there, I'm the same level of incompetent for the job. – John Hammond Dec 2 '15 at 7:34
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    @LarsFriedrich it matters in that it gives you a lever for number 4, it's central to the issue. Are you incompetent for the job you applied for, or are you incompetent at something you never claimed to be competent at? The second puts a whole new light on discussing solutions with management. – Kilisi Dec 2 '15 at 7:36
  • Uhm, no, it doesn't. Question 1) is about who to blame, which doesn't help or fix anything when discussing the issue with the management. The discussion with management will/should be in both cases about alternatives to resigning. Identifying what the issue is, is central, not who caused the issue. – John Hammond Dec 2 '15 at 7:45
  • it makes sense to me. If it's not your fault then it's a whole other story from 'misrepresenting' your skills in the first instance. Management will be asking about causality, best to be prepared. But if you can't see that, then I guess that's up to you. Treat the cause, not just the symptoms is my policy. – Kilisi Dec 2 '15 at 7:49
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    @LarsFriedrich I think that's why there is an "and" between 3 and 4. If you drop the ball on any of the first 3 your supervisor should catch it and correct you. If you think you can soldier through that doesn't exclude you from sharing your difficulties with your supervisor. – Myles Dec 2 '15 at 17:45

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