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I started a new software developer job two months ago with a probation period of six months. Unfortunately I am quite dissatisfied with the company and management. I'm a young and very passionate developer and feel like I cannot make use of my full potential. There is also no one more skilled than me to teach me new things. Therefore I am thinking of leaving the company as soon as I found a new position. What I am thinking about, however, is if I should first discuss my problems with my manager. He told me to do so if I face any problems.

Should I talk to my manager first or start looking for a new job immediately and then just quit?

EDIT I received a lot of critic in comments and answers concerning several things.

  • being overconfident
  • being high-maintenance
  • having low communication skills
  • doing a poor job during the initial interview

I could try to defend myself and explain in a lengthy edit to my question why some of these accusations are definitely false. This, however, would not help to improve the question nor the answers and would be off topic. Your thoughts made me think about my situation nevertheless and some of them might be true.

Unfortunately most of the answers - while mentioning good points - did not really answer my original question. It looks like there was a misunderstanding. I did not intend to ask if I should quit my job before having found a new one. I also did not intend to ask if I should my quit my job at all. I intended to ask whether one should start looking for a new job when unsatisfied during probation or if one should first talk to the manager. Everything else was an attempt to explain that I see only a low chance that talking to my manager would change the situation significantly.

marked as duplicate by mcknz, Rory Alsop, Chris E, IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat Dec 15 '16 at 21:05

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  • Do you truly think things would get better if you talk to your manager? Could you convince him to change things to your higher standards? – Kaizerwolf Dec 14 '16 at 19:36
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    "ask more questions during your interviews this time" And since we're all thinking it but can't say one way or the other as we don't know you or your situation: consider whether your expectations are realistic. You're coming across as incredibly overconfident in your post and such confidence in your own ability and value is only realistic for those with considerable experience. Experience that I don't normally expect of people who still describe themselves as young. – Lilienthal Dec 14 '16 at 19:58
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    Expecting your manager to start all these things on your request is a recipe for failure. If you want to stick it out, go talk to him/her, describe a few of the things you think would improve the performance of the team, and ask to work with him/her to begin to roll out improved processes. For example, "A CI server would help us in this way. I'd like to stand one up, prototype an integration with our code, and demonstrate it to you and the team. Here's how much it will cost, and I estimate it'll take me 1 week." The response will be very informative. – Peter Dec 14 '16 at 20:06
  • @Lilienthal yes, I am very confident that I am good at my job but at the same time I know very well about my shortcomings and what I still have to learn. My expectations are realistic for my work field but might be unrealistic for this specific company since they lack manpower and knowledge in these areas. I could try to fill this gap and would be happy to do so. But I am unsure whether I would be able to convince them of the urgency. – sigy Dec 15 '16 at 6:47
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    It is worth it to pick out the one most important change you would like to see and prepare a cost benefit/risk analysis and attempt to convince your boss of the need for change. Not because you expect that it will be implemented at this place, but because learning how to drive change is a critical job skill and this is a no-risk way to practice it. What is the worst that could happen? You have already decided to leave. It also gives you practice in talking to your boss. If you had concerns they should have been addressed with your boss long before you got to the point of deciding to leave. – HLGEM Dec 19 '16 at 21:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'd rather see your situation as an opportunity to improve the issues within the company and in the long term create a quite pleasant working environment. If I were you I'd do the following:

  • prepare some kind of an improvement plan for the department you're in also trying to outline the benefits of each change;
  • request a meeting with your manager indicating that you have some thoughts on your position and the department itself you would like to share;
  • during the meeting tell your observations and mention that such situation is demotivating for you, but you have some ideas for improvement;
  • see how the meeting goes and...
    • if your manager is open for new ideas - sketch a long-term plan with couple of short-term (max 4 months) goals (if they won't be reached - you quit before your probation period)
    • Should your manager not be willing to take your ideas seriously - start looking for a new challenge - you have still 4 months of support while being available on a short notice.

I'm speaking through some experience with German management - the ones I was in touch with were not open for changes and suggestions from lower hierarchy level. Looking at the bright side - there are a lot of developer jobs open all around so approach it like "it is me choosing my employer".

In any way - during the meeting with the manager speak about the facts, share your emotions and don't threaten, at least not directly (instead of saying I'll quit you can say it would be a pity if I had to look for interesting challenges elsewhere). Good luck!

  • 5
    A young dev straight out of school is going to have absolutely no say in how the department is run. Driving change is typically a very difficult, and political effort, which even senior devs have trouble with. The whole mentality of "every problem is an opportunity" is a bit of a myth. If you want to be successful you have to realize when you're facing a losing proposition, and simply move on with your life/career. Sure, the OP might learn a thing or two in this workplace, but if his overall feeling is one of dissatisfaction it's better to simply start looking elsewhere. – AndreiROM Dec 15 '16 at 14:12
  • @AndreiROM This is actually the answer IMHO – Mister Positive Dec 15 '16 at 14:33
  • I mark this as the accepted answer, since it is the one best addressing my question. @AndreiROM If a young dev can influence the department depends on the size of the company and the mindset of the manager. From my experience it is possible. I fully agree with the last part of your comment, though. – sigy Dec 19 '16 at 20:43
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    Thanks. AndreiROM has a point, however @sigy, as they say - not shooting is always a miss. And about seeing the opportunities - if not changing the mindset of the company see this as the opportunity for exercising your discussion capabilities, presentation techniques, etc. The worst-case scenarion is that you'll be leaving the company. Which you were planning anyway. Pretty low risk, I must say. – Mike Dec 21 '16 at 9:56

If I talk to him I guess he would listen carefully but not understand much of it (that is exactly one of my concerns). Other team members would not care much about my suggestions (Code reviews, CI server, static code analysis, consistent style guidelines) so I doubt that any of them would get heard. If I then quit this would create quite some tension. "You don't do what I demand, so I quit".

If you are already convinced that your manager won't understand what you are saying, that's a big problem. You seem to have already "flipped the bozo bit" as some like to say.

Either your communication skills are poor, or you are saying that your manager isn't smart enough. Without having discussed these sorts of issues yet, you may have come to an unsupported conclusion - but there's only one way to know for sure.

However, if I talk to him even if he would totally agree with me and promise to fix all of my concerns it would take several months until the transition would be completed if not even more than a year. I am not sure if I am willing to wait that long. But if I quit during this transition I could be considered impatient or spoilt.

You've only been there 2 months so far. And you aren't willing to wait "several months" to see your concerns "fixed".

Again, it sounds like your mind is already made up.

If I just quit immediately I think this would come out of nowhere for my manager and therefore leave a bad impression of me with him. As my feeling is that he does not put much past me my fear is that he would think I quit because the job was to hard for me (quite the opposite is the case).

The only way your quitting would come out of nowhere is if you don't discuss your concerns with your manager.

If you really don't want to leave a bad impression, you know what you should do.

Should I talk to my manager first or quit immediately?

Find a new job first.

During your interviews, make sure to ask enough questions so that you'll know it has everything you want (code reviews, CI server, static code analysis, consistent style guidelines, whatever). Apparently you did a poor job at digging in this time - you don't want to repeat that mistake.

Then, once you get a new job offer and acceptance, give an appropriate notice and leave on a good note. Probation periods are for both sides to see if there is a good fit or not. You've already decided the "not" part.

Since you haven't felt it necessary to discuss the issues you are seeing with your current manager, and since you appear to already have mentally checked-out of this job, it's probably not worth talking to your manager.

  • Since you haven't felt it necessary to discuss the issues you are seeing with your current manager - Whether I should do that is exactly what this question is about... – sigy Dec 19 '16 at 20:26

There is also no one more skilled than me to teach me new things.

You should stay until you get a better offer. If you feel this company isn't a good fit for you, it might be wise to start looking for a new job. Based on the quote above, it seems like this would be wise. Finding a company with people working at your approximate skill level is key to happiness in the workplace. However, the first 2 months of a job rarely give good insight to how you will feel after 6 months.

You should talk to your manager. Your concerns could be very helpful to them, and they might implement them, but only if you bring them up. However, I will caution that often young developers push topics like style/convention, but this is generally not in the interest of the company and so is typically not implemented. Code convention is for future development, not past. You can find many questions on here about this topic. I will say that you ought to try listening to your manager/team's concerns. They may be more competent than your first impressions have led you to believe.

I could be considered impatient or spoilt.

This is none of your concern if you quit, and it is likely untrue. Employers understand that not everyone they hire will be a perfect fit. Unless you think they are likely to and capable of sabotaging your future career, their opinion of you after you quit is moot.

  • Small caveat: I'm a developer in a very small, tight and specialized industry segment. People talk. I know devs who have been blacklisted. – 3Dave Dec 15 '16 at 1:00
  • @David I think the OP is likely to not be so entrenched in a small segment like you are because they are a young developer and still likely open to change in industry. However, I would say that if your case was true of OP, a more diplomatic approach would be advisable as your options are very limited, so you should try much harder to make this job work. – BlackThorn Dec 15 '16 at 1:05
  • Blacklisting's impact also heavily depends on your job market. I'm officially blacklisted in a Parisian insurance company, it was never a problem to find another job in Paris. Had I been in a small town, David's remark would have applied fully. – gazzz0x2z Dec 15 '16 at 8:35

I know how you feel because I was in a very similar situation when I graduated (and it wasn't that long ago). As a young and inexperienced dev I didn't really know what to look for in an employer. In fact, I felt that interviews were essentially one sided examinations, and that I should count myself lucky that any employer would hire me (especially for a decent salary).

This mentality of being grateful to simply have a decent paying job, as well as the mentality to just try my best even if things are going less than "great", lead me to stick around with that first company for a lot longer than I should have. And it cost me.

That workplace taught me a lot, but I still ended up falling behind on key skills and technologies, because I received absolutely ZERO mentorship, and the technology stack and development process there both left a lot to be desired. Looking back, I regret sticking around as long as a I did.

Since then, I've learned to trust my instinct and move on from a job when I feel that the experience I'm gaining is stale, or otherwise not enriching my resume, or improving my future employability.

Some things which I would recommend:

1. Read up on interview tactics and negotiations.

Understand that interviews are an opportunity for you to assess your potential employer, as much as it is an opportunity for them to test your own knowledge and skills. Don't be afraid to ask pointed questions regarding their development process, or even asking to sit down with one of their tech guys and quizzing him for a few minutes.

2. Pick your goals and targets

Check out what the latest technologies are. Which are you interested in? Which are gaining popularity, and generating well paid jobs? Once you've decided what you want to work with don't be afraid to start learning those technologies on your own, and going out and finding companies which use them.

Don't just take any job if you can possibly afford to keep looking for one which will allow you to work with the technology stack you're interested in!

3. Listen to your instincts

I'm not advising you to jump from job to job willy nilly. However, if you feel that a workplace has nothing left to offer you, don't be afraid to get out.

My rule of thumb is that if a year passes without my work offering me any opportunities to learn something new,or otherwise enrich my resume, I start looking for something new. Of course that "something new" should also be relevant to the career path which you envision for yourself.

4. Conclusion

If this company's development process and technology stack is lacking, you should start looking for something new. As a junior developer it would be invaluable for you to find a job where mentorship and code reviews are actually a part of their culture.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you might magically change this place for the better. Simply start looking for a job which will allow you to grow.

  1. Don't just quit with nothing lined up. Unless it's affecting your health through stress and depression. It would be foolish to chuck away a pay packet.

  2. Start looking for jobs. Bear in mind this experience and don't just apply for anything. You now know a bit more about what you want in a role (code reviews, standards etc). Make sure these are set in stone.

  3. Suggest one or two things to your boss, and cite examples of where they would help. (Like, the latest release build broke just before we were deploying the app and this delayed the release by x hours. With a CI Server, we would have known this much sooner). Quantifying how things can help in an example your boss will know (pain from a delayed release), could at least prompt the discussion amongst peers.

  4. You may be guessing that your other colleagues may not care for these suggestions, but it could simply be the case that they have asked for similar things before and been shot down. Don't assume that your colleagues don't want the things you do too. There could be other reasons why they are not in place.

  5. Unfortunately I am quite dissatisfied with the company and management

    Welcome to real life kid. You will experience this in a number of roles you will have in the future. What you don't realise, yet, is that there are many other factors that determine how things can/can't be done.

  6. I have left jobs within the probationary period before for a number of reasons. Some have been regarding working practices etc. The probationary period is designed for both you and the company, it's not just so they can see if you're good or not.

  7. This is the most important one. I have alluded to it before but I will say it again. You will be very lucky where you get everything you want in a role. In this instance, if you have judged that there are too many negatives, then fine, look around for something else. If you feel it's dragging you down, then you should probably leave. You can get away with one or 2 short roles. If this continues to 3, 4 or 5, then employers will start wondering if it's worth hiring you if you are going to just leave.

    I don't want to say this in a bad way, but you do come across a little high maintenance for a better term. I'm not saying it's a terrible thing, but sometimes you can't have what you want. Even if you logically can make a case to help, sometimes there are other things way above your pay grade that your manager has to deal with. CI servers, Code Analysis, Peer Reviews etc cost time and money. If the company is small and deadlines are tight in a competitive field, then it's unreasonable to expect they are all in place.

  8. You state in a comment above:

    But I am unsure whether I would be able to convince them of the urgency

    Is there an urgency of these things? Or are they things you want and believe every place should have? Are there numerous examples of things going wrong that your suggestions help with? I'm not saying that places shouldn't have these things in, but you may be overstating their urgency based on your belief that these should be in place.

    FWIW - it sounds like you should be looking to work with bigger firms. They are more likely to have code reviews, CI Servers in place. It seems your mentality would fit into a larger firm.

If you resign in 2 months versus 6 months it is not really much different on a resume.

If you are convinced it is not going to get better soon enough to make a difference then start looking for another job. Be selective about the new job.

It would still be worth bring up some (not all) process improvements and see how they are received.

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    As someone who feels strongly about process, the OP needs to learn and practice techniques for helping process change happen. Even if the OP is going to leave in a few months, it is worth trying one or two ideas. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 15 '16 at 0:03
  • That does not even come close to answer my question – sigy Dec 15 '16 at 6:58
  • @PatriciaShanahan yes, I need to improve my skills in this area :/ – sigy Dec 15 '16 at 6:59

You should just quit. Probation period works both ways - it is not just the company testing you out, it's also you testing the company, and obviously the company has failed your test.

Six months probation period sounds German. So if you wait to long for the company to implement changes probation might end and you will most likely find yourself at the wrong end of the customary German three month notice period. Do you really want to be bogged down for three quarters of a year ?

So quit - this is not you being spoilt, this is what a probation period is for. Also that way the company can look for a replacement and does not have invest any more money into an unhappy employee.

Plus with markets being as they are at the moment you should be able to find a new job quickly, so there is not point in dithering.

It's just when you find that being unhappy in your job becomes a habit that you should reconsider if the problem is with you and not with the companies you work for, but for now looking for a better fitting opportunity seems the thing to do.

  • Yes, I am from Germany. However, the difference in my notice period would only be two weeks, so this would not really be an issue. Rest of your answer is true. Thanks for your opinion – sigy Dec 15 '16 at 7:01
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    I am not sure if I am willing to wait that long I am not sure I would want you as an employee. So you can be a contribution to the company and have it the way you want it, but even if that is not good enough? Then what is your real issue? You should indeed quit. And consider that something like this may happen at your next job as well. Eike's last paragraph is something to seriously consider. – Jan Doggen Dec 15 '16 at 11:09
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    @JanDoggen: If sigy is as good as he thinks, then he will pick up a new job easily and quitting is the right choice. The best software houses are all using the techniques and technologies that he is looking to use as a matter of course. Having career-changer self-taught developers as his seniors and coming from (what sounds like) a proper IT/development education, means they can't teach him anything and he will damage his skill-set and prospects by staying as his experience will be virtually useless. Juniors only progress via learning - he needs a place to do so. He is not the issue. – toadflakz Dec 15 '16 at 13:04
  • @toadflakz right now being good has nothing do to with it (although it certainly does not hurt). With the market being as it is I could throw a stone at a crowd and would hit an potential employer, and it would not have to be a large crowd, or stone (heck, my own company is looking for at least two devs and we cannot get any). Which is of course all the more reason to quit - right now there is a window of opportunity where we can be as picky as we want to, so by all means sigy should use that. – Eike Pierstorff Dec 15 '16 at 13:14
  • @jandoggen Your reaction is exactly what I fear might happen if I propose changes, they agree and I then quit because it takes too long to implement the changes. It is nothing that could be done in a few days and I fear that they will give it such a low priority that it will take an extended period of time. – sigy Dec 15 '16 at 13:46

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