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I know this is not server related, but I am not sure what site to ask - any direction would be appreciated.

I am currently working as an IT Engineer for a small IT company (me and the boss) in a small town (45,000 people). I want to leave my job and pursue another IT role in the same town. I have been working in this role since January of this year (5 months), and the main reason for leaving is my boss has too many expectations of what I can do within a reasonable amount of time for the clients. I.E. The clients he has accumulated were told to me in the interview that they were managed well - they are not, and he wants everything perfect right away. The person I took over has not helped in getting the clients systems up to scratch either from the look of it.

Now I am all up for a challenge, and have been working as hard as I can in the role, juggling study and getting ready for a new baby on the way. But recently my boss has given me a 'warning' due to a client system issue. (Not trying to defend that there wasn't an issue, but just trying to move on from this role so he can find someone to meet his expectations).

On my resume, does anyone have any ideas of what I can say in the part where I explain the situation? I don't want to highlight the fact that he has very high expectations - which I am trying to live up to but obviously for one reason or another not.

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closed as off topic by womble, Shane Madden, Iain, Chris S, Sam Aug 12 '11 at 14:37

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Have you (meaningfully, directly, and ideally calmly) communicated your concerns to your boss? If not, it's too early to be asking this question. If so, not including what he's said makes it hard–for me, at least–to see this as anything but you saying, "My job's hard, my boss fired the last guy and hired me because the last guy wasn't doing this job well, and now he expects me to do my job well." This is not an overwhelmingly unreasonable stance for your boss to take. – BMDan May 20 '11 at 2:35
We have talked about the situation. His attitude is that the clients are paying for regular maintenance, so the product we give should be perfect. And that's fine, of course. My issue is with a family on the way, I want a boss that is going to talk to be about these issues and concerns, instead of jumping straight to a formal warning. It hasn't left me or my wife feeling safe in my job. I know that I can work harder, but there has to be a bit of give/take I believe in a business of this size. – The Woo May 20 '11 at 2:40
Well, you can always find other reasons to leave. Sounds like you're a spring chicken and need some more experience. How about the desire to work for a larger firm and with someone who can mentor you into the role? sounds like you don't have that where you are now. – Matt May 20 '11 at 2:42
Point out that, if you were perfect at your job, you'd be a top-tier consultant. Instead, you are who you are. Nobody's perfect, but our pay-rates (in an ideal world) reflect the amount of not-perfect we are. Your boss may even pay himself a not-perfect rate and do nearly-perfect work, but that doesn't mean he can expect the same of you at the same pay-rate. Not to be harsh, but in your bio, you call yourself a "noob" sysadmin. In my world, the term is "Junior", but the connotation is the same: you're in your position to be mentored, not to deliver perfect client-facing results from Day 1. – BMDan May 20 '11 at 2:46
Continuing a bit: If that's what your boss needs, he needs to hire that level of experience and skill. I'm strongly betting that he either can't afford, or chooses not to afford, to do that. That is not your problem, except insofar as you shouldn't let it (as it will tend to want to do) affect whether or not you always give the best effort you can when faced with a difficult–or outright impossible–task. – BMDan May 20 '11 at 2:48
up vote 4 down vote accepted

First try what BMDan suggests when things are calm. But if that doesn't solve the problem you can start looking for a bigger company where the tasks are divided up more.

As for resumes their purpose is to positively present your experience, skills, and knowledge. The new company knows you left your previous company for a reason but they don't really care unless it had legal issues. Otherwise, they just want to know if you can do the work their position demands.

And do not bad talk your previous boss in front of your prospective new boss during the interview. That shows you didn't learn anything and you hold grudges. Instead, focus on presenting your skills and asking questions about task management and workflows the company believes in.

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+1 for not slandering your previous employer -- It's OK to explain empirically what was wrong with the environment and state that you didn't feel that you had the institutional support necessary to fix the problems, but it's not OK to call your former boss a D-bag :-) – voretaq7 May 20 '11 at 3:21
@voretaq7: Now you tell me! That explains why I'm not getting any post interview call backs. :) – joeqwerty May 20 '11 at 3:24
@joeqwerty: No, you're not getting any callbacks because you called your interviewer a D-bag. Subtle difference :-) – voretaq7 May 20 '11 at 3:26

I have to agree with BMDan here. I'm not saying that your statements aren't valid because they may very well be but your first responsibilty is to perform your job and conduct yourself as a professional and that means that you need discuss the situation with your boss. This may not produce the outcome you desire but it will start you off on the path to being a true professional in your field.

If I have a problem with my boss or with the responsibilities or duties of my job then it's my responsibility to take those issues to my boss, for good or bad. If it falls on deaf ears then I can be confident in knowing that I conducted myself appropriately.

My career belongs to me. My success or failure rests on my shoulders alone. It's my responsibility to take that seriously and that isn't accomplished by bolting for the door when things aren't to my liking.

On a final note, to paraphrase a few cliches: You can't make wine without squeezing some grapes and you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Your greatest growth is going to come from dealing with the hard parts of being an IT professional.

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Sorry joe, going to disagree with you on this statement: but your first responsibilty is to perform your job and conduct yourself as a professional - my first responsibility is to my family, my wife and children, every time. Being responsible and professional is how I fulfil that role, but family still comes first. Not saying everyone feels that way, but I belive that's the way it should be. – Mark Henderson May 20 '11 at 2:52
@MarK: I agree wholeheartedly. My answer was meant in the context of the job, not in the context of life in it's entirety. When it comes to life, job be damned I'm going home to my wife and kids. – joeqwerty May 20 '11 at 2:56
fair enough, I must have misunderstood :) I do know some people who put their work before their families though! – Mark Henderson May 20 '11 at 3:02

As others have suggested you need to have a sit-down with your boss -- Schedule an off-site "long lunch meeting" or a full afternoon with no distractions and come prepared: You have been at this company for 5 months, you know what's broken and (hopefully) have some long-time ideas on how to fix it.

Once you and your boss are somewhere quiet you need to discuss the expectations of the company, the problems you are aware of, any problems you may not be aware of (the "political landscape" between your company and your clients), and the reasons you can't currently meet expectations (technical, procedural, staffing, "unreasonable expectations", etc. -- Note that by "unreasonable expectations" I mean things like "and we want zero downtime EVER!", not stuff that could be solved by more hardware, better management practices, more bodies and the like).

Having discussed the situation present your boss with your plans to improve things, rough estimates of capital and manpower costs. It's best to have at least 3 options (Lousy solution, the solution you'll probably implement, and a Cadillac solution that's bomb-proof and mostly future-proof) with good reasons backing them up, and to have roughly 3-month timetables for hitting milestones.
If your boss and company don't suck you'll get buy-in to make things better (and help overcoming any client resistance to change/downtime), and your job will start sucking a whole lot less.

Having written all that, note that sometimes a company just won't be ready to take the plunge and invest in the amount of work required to make a sysadmin's life not suck, or they may not have the political capital with their clients to push changes upon them.
Bitter Experience has taught me that if your management isn't willing to work to implement sound plans to make the environment better it's often a good idea to pack your bags and move on.

If it comes down to it, give your notice (at least 2 weeks), provide them as much documentation as you can on the current state of the environment during your notice period (this will be invaluable to your successor and may help them get changes made), and leave on terms that are as cordial as possible. Resume-wise, indicate your accomplishments and the technologies you worked with/responsibilities you had, and be prepared to explain in an interview the problems you encountered, the solutions you proposed, and that you left because the environment was unworkable and the company was unwilling to work with you to improve it. You can/should describe problems/proposed solutions generically, and obviously don't slander your previous employer (makes you look bad), but don't be afraid to say "I left because the environment was a disaster, they wouldn't work with me to fix it, and I can't spend 24 hours a day 365 days a year putting out fires." In nicer terms of course.

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