I am looking for a way to professionally tell my boss that I don't want to continue working on the project I am currently assigned to, and want to move on to something else.

A little background, this project started out as a Java/Spring project a few months ago, and now due to politics (State government project) the project is being moved to a complete Oracle Apex solution.

I will admit I don't want to do Oracle Apex, I have donen't know Apex, and I don't have any interest in it. It doesn't make sense from a career perspective for me either. I've been in the industry 5 years, with the last 2-3 focusing on Java/Spring technology stack. I'm at a point where I want to focus and build expertise in specific areas. The project could drag on for months to a few years, and I don't want to shift my career in another path. There are nowhere near as many Oracle Apex jobs as Java, NET, PHP, Python, etc. Most importantly it's not something I want to do with my career. It would be different if I was asked to do ASP.NET as its more or less in the same realm, and I have an interest in it.

The issue is we are a small company, and I'm part of a small team. I've proven in the past before that I'm a quick learner and can get things done. As a result, when I brought it up before I was just told, "you're a smart guy, you can pick it up and learn it". We already have the project, Apex people are not easy to find, and they are not just going to give up the project.

I'm not sure how to address my boss. If I am not able to convince him to assign me to something else my only other option seems to be seeking employment elsewhere.

  • Why not start with: Boss, I am not comfortable in working with this project due to < these > reasons.
    – Dawny33
    Dec 8, 2015 at 16:37
  • I have and that is when I got the "you're a smart guy, you can pick it up and learn it" as mentioned above. Thus far he has seemed to just brush it off
    – greyfox
    Dec 8, 2015 at 16:39
  • You need to explain him like you did in the question. No one takes a I don't want to work on this project rant seriously. Explain him why you think that's not what you want to do in your career.
    – Dawny33
    Dec 8, 2015 at 16:40
  • Excellent comment from Dawny32, but still : do they have other projects you could work on? If there is nothing on technologies you are interested in, how to communicate becomes an uninteresting point.....
    – gazzz0x2z
    Dec 8, 2015 at 16:41
  • 1
    Do you have an alternative plan for getting the current project done? Your boss is much less concerned with your career development than with the work that needs doing. Dec 9, 2015 at 9:22

2 Answers 2


Firstly, as I have mentioned in the comment: No one takes a I don't want to work on this project rant seriously.

So, explain to your boss about your career plans and why you think that this project would not help you achieve them.

In case you are interested in some other project, then let him know about it. If possible, explain to him how your presence in the other project would add more value to the company, rather than in the current project.

It would be better if he had an option on the table beforehand.

If there aren't any other projects where you can (or want to) work on, then you might want to re-consider your future at the company.

  • I've never had a request to change projects or transfer to a new team taken seriously, ever. The only option I've found for getting on a new project is to just go and find a new job. This was even the case back when I worked for a ridiculously huge company that had plenty of other work going on all over the world (and I was willing to move). "Sorry, there's nowhere else we can put you, we need you to stay on this project."
    – James Adam
    Dec 8, 2015 at 18:12
  • @JamesAdam, my problem is similar, I've brought it up twice and both times was brushed off
    – greyfox
    Dec 8, 2015 at 19:03
  • 1
    +1 for "adding value to the company". Part of the problem is that the company has absolutely no financial interest in the quality of your resume, over and above keeping you happy enough not to lose you (and sometimes not even that, if they feel they could get a replacement easily). You have to show you are worth more on another project than the current one. Dec 9, 2015 at 8:30

If there is another project you know about in the company, your best bet is to find out what skills that project has and pitch to your boss with "I noticed in project X that they need someone who can Y. I'm much better at Y than I am at Apex." That could likely be coupled with "I'd like to learn more about Q in project Y".

A problem with a proposed solution is much better than a "I don't want".

If neither of those work, then you might try the approach of asking to be put onto a project part-time. Getting 10hrs/week of a project you like is better than 0.

If you explain to your manager that you'd like to start working in a direction and there is no willingness to move you in that direction (if not immediately, then in the next month/quarter), then you should evaluate whether that position is worth it.

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