There’s a popular saying that the reward for good work is more work and in the IT industry, this often holds true.
IT professionals have a reputation for working long hours and having to deal with near-impossible deadlines—which typically leads to individuals burning out or even worse.
In fact, there’s now evidence that those who appear to enjoy their work are more likely to be taken advantage of at their jobs. People who self-identify as being “passionate” about their work are often the most likely to be mistreated, according to a recent study from Duke University’s business school.
Researchers found that overachievers are more likely to be asked to put in overtime without pay, leave family on weekends to work, and do work that’s not in their job descriptions.
So, how can you tell when the demands of your tech job are unreasonable? How do you know when its time to move on to better opportunities or work environment? Experts say some of the most obvious signs include being forced to take on extra work without recognition, being given unreasonable deadlines, or when pay is frequently delayed.
With this in mind, here are some signals that you need to get out of your rut and into the career you’ve always desired:
1. You’re apathetic and complacent
As each day passes, you feel increasingly disconnected from your original reasons for entering the field. Mentally, you’ve checked out; you’re underperforming, your deadlines are slipping, and you just can’t muster the energy to fake enthusiasm about the company’s mission anymore.
But this isn’t normally like you. What’s going on? The truth is, even at a job you’re passionate about, there are times when work is just going to feel like work. But if you can’t remember the last time you felt energized by a new idea or invigorated by your next project, it might be time to reevaluate your role.
Are you counting down the minutes until you can leave the office? If you love your work but you have no time for anything else that’s an indicator it’s too much.Mari Hegyi, senior people team manager at Limeade, who serves as the company’s career coach.
2. You don’t feel like you’re making an impact
Your job duties are the same day in and day out. Every day looks and feels identical–you’re simply performing on autopilot. You feel undervalued—like your time and talents are being wasted, and your greatest skills aren’t being put to use.
Over time you’ve stopped actively seeking out new opportunities to contribute, demoralized. It’s time to find a new role that plays to your strengths, provides opportunities to develop new skills, and allows you to make meaningful contributions. Your career should boost your self-esteem, not diminish it.
“Developers may feel a sense of lack of accomplishment and feel like they are working on projects that are impossible to solve,” Ahmed says
3. You’re given more work and less pay
When a colleague moves on and the work shifts to you, it’s reasonable to question what’s too much, especially if there’s no pay increase or possibly no recognition. But is it exploitative?
A salary increase might not always be an option for your employer, but other benefits can be extended to show that your employer knows and appreciates the additional work you’re doingJulia Kanouse, CEO of Illinois Technology Association.
She points to alternative compensation such as extra vacation days or a one-time bonus.
4. You are struggling to have a good work-life balance
Work should be challenging, but not debilitating. If you’re chronically exhausted, losing sleep, suffering from headaches, or experiencing other physical symptoms, this may be your body’s way of telling you your career is not right for you.
Being permanently stressed can also impact your relationships with others close to you. Have your friends and family commented on your irritability or constant complaining? If work is turning you into an unhappy or bitter person, start to explore activities that will make you feel like yourself again.
5. Your salary doesn’t make you satisfied
The pay might be good, but the work is mindless and dreadful. At one point you could justify staying because of the paycheck, but now, even that isn’t enough. You find yourself watching the second hand of the clock tick by during meetings. You’ve reached Tuesday after a long weekend and you’re already marking your calendar until the next vacation day. While you appreciate the stability your job provides, you’re beginning to feel like you’re wasting your potential. These are clear signs that someone could use a change.
6. You’re longing for a new career
You spend your lunch breaks thinking about what you’d do in “your next life” and relishing the thought of how you would deliver your two-weeks’ notice. You find yourself browsing job boards instead of work emails, and you’re starting to become jealous of your friend’s careers, wondering how they landed such “perfect” jobs. You cringe when people ask you what it is you do because you wish it were something different.
You’ve thought about leaving, you’ve even brought the idea up to friends in passing conversation. Would you leave your job “if you could?” If so, it’s time to go.