What's the longest you've stayed at a job you were unhappy with?

Ben Halpern on June 06, 2019

Just curious about the answers, nothing about my job. 😄

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Depends on how you look at it, but I'll say about two years.

When I was in college, I interned at a company and hated it. Due to the pressure of finding a job, I ultimately decided to apply full-time anyway, and I somehow got the job.

After chatting with my family, they agreed that I should stick with it because I was young and didn't know any better. To deal with the anxiety, I tried to rationalize the decision by saying things like "maybe other teams will be different", etc.

After I started, I was unhappy everywhere I went. Ironically, they liked the quality of my work, so they made it as hard as possible for me to quit. When I did, they ultimately forced me to return my relocation money which was about six weeks of income. In other words, I had to stay on an extra six weeks just to ensure I could pay that off, and it was really draining on my mental health.

Feel free to take whatever lessons you can from this story. haha


Definitely not a nice situation to be in, knowing you have to pay back money to leave a job you're not enjoying. Completely drains motivation too, knowing you want to be elsewhere but can't afford to be :(


Yeah it was tough. Luckily, my wife and I were able to survive on her income for a bit while I tried to figure things out.

It's hard to leave when you a) know you're going to have to either take a pay cut/pay something back and b) when they're trying to hard to keep you, you can't help feeling a bit guilty even though you shouldn't (at least this happened in my case). You worry for so long then a few months after starting a new job you think to yourself hang on, why was I so stressed? Glad you got it sorted though! Must have felt good when it was done with.


I'm surprised it was legal for them to ask for the relocation money back. Sounds like a good thing to keep an eye on when looking at contracts.


Yeah, it was a sticky situation because the contract was ambiguous. It basically stated that the relocation money had to be paid back if you left within a year of the expiration date of the benefit. Apparently, the expiration date of the money (not sure how a lump sum expires) was a year after I got it, so I had to stay two years to avoid the penalty (left 4 months early).

That's rough. I'm trying to think of an alternative contract that would protect the employer's initial investment but also not hold your money hostage. One year seems like a more reasonable compromise.

Agreed! Two years is a long time, and I’d argue that I more than paid them back at the time. Rules are rules though—or so I’m told! Haha


My first job. I'm still working for this company. To get find a new job in Turkey, really hard.

The economy isn't good. So, I have to stay here even if I'm unhappy.

I was looking for remote jobs but, my English isn't well.

I think that's all :)


I can't understand how bad it is to work in a job you hate because I still am a student. But my family is affected in this economy too. I understand how hard it is to live in such economy.

Allah sabır versin.


Thanks :) your managers' weird requests. Feeling worthless, etc.

Just you don't feel open to success anymore.

You may feel worthless in there because you don't get your worth and assume that you are.

Don't let them drain you. Look for jobs on the side and save for 6 months in case you can't get a job asap. Don't kill yourself to get paid. Of course it will be difficult but remember what Kanuni Sultan Süleyman said:

Halk içinde muteber bir nesne yok devlet gibi,

Olmaya devlet cihanda bir nefes sıhhat gibi

There is nothing in society as valuable as nation
There is no nation as valuable as health
(I tried to translate a very meaningful saying by Kanuni Sultan Suleyman, a monarch of Ottoman Empire who suffered from illness, and it probably lost a big chunk of its meaning)


Been there... I live in Turkey, and I know how it sucks!


:/ I understand :) I hope you can escape :)


Oh that sucks. Keep trying, it is not that much English as you can think. Did you apply to US companies? Europe maybe a bit easier


No, I didn't. But I also need self-trust. Everything is the same, I know. I'll do what I do here anywhere in the world.

Every jr developer wants work for big companies. I just want to join a good team.

I hope, I find a good company for remote work. Actually, the relocation would be good.

That's my aim, too. I'd love to just be a part of a good team with a variety in skill sets so we can grow with one another.

Good luck! You've got this.

Maybe someday we work together :)


One day at McDonald's in Munich-Stachus, one of the three largest McDs worldwide. In the summer. In the kitchen. Three people yelling at you while you burn your fingers on the grill. Worst day ever. I was looking for work for the weeks between schools. I went with Pizza Hut instead. Still got 50€ for that day at least.


This brings me back to every shitty job I ever had before getting into software 😭


I hated all the service jobs I worked through high school and college. Those jobs are definitely not for the weak of heart. Both customers and your “team” can be really awful. 😟


4 years.

Me saying that I was unhappy the entire time is a falsity though.

I used to drive trains for a living. It was a fun job. But complacency kicked in really hard and I felt like I was just skating through life. Hopping from hotel to hotel, playing video games, and sleeping my life away.

The pay was good. The work was fun, then boring, then monotonous. I got laid off from that job, and that was the best thing that could have happened to me. I probably would have been a 40 year man to chase that guaranteed retirement.


3 years in both my first and second job. The first job was in a completely different industry to what I'm in now (Chemistry, now in Dev) and at the time, going straight from school to this job and getting pretty good at it, I was afraid of taking the leap to change industries, considering I didn't have nearly enough dev experience to get a full time role.

I then got an apprenticeship in general IT, completed it in no time and self taught myself ruby-on-rails to a level where I could move over to dev. Unfortunately they underpaid, didn't sanction staff who took the micky with deadlines/work/time and didn't promote any sort of progression, you just got on with your job, building small features, fixing bugs and solving helpdesks. I had no real indication of where I was in terms of skill level, only that I was quite a bit further than the rest of the team. I decided 3 years was long enough for a company that didn't treat their employees very well so moved on!

In hindsight I wish I'd have moved on earlier, as I could definitely be on a better salary now. I've learned not to get too attached to companies and look out for myself a bit better.


About to hit 2 years. I'm still here because I don't seem to be doing well in the job search. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


My first job, I stayed there for 1.4 years. I left that job 1.4 years back. I love my job there but the CEO is a fool, arrogant, self-centered idiot. But now i work at one of the best startups in India.


When i started to work with software development the first place that i work was require me to do advanced tasks, with no one kind of supporting, the result was that I left after 1,5 year because of my health


About 6 months (well, I was at the job for a year, but the first 6 months I chalked it up to it being my first job out of school and needed an adjustment period).

When I left, it was not voluntarily, but I had already started looking for my next position.


I've been with my current employer for going on 21 years and at first it was okay but I've been unhappy with my role for about 4-5 years. I only do web development as a small part of my job (I'm in desktop support) but have had a few projects that kept me here & engaged enough to stay. I'm dissatisfied working here because of the lack of opportunities and advancement. Things are usually busy on the support side but it gets repetitive.

I've been trying to catch up on development for the past few years and get an actual full-time job as a developer but no takers so far. I get callbacks for half the applications I put in but I guess once they hear my back-story, they're just not interested any longer. Getting really discouraged that I'm nearing midlife and I'm not in the career that I wanted to be in. I've been programming in some form for over 25 years but afraid it's going to stay a hobby at some point. I'll keep on learning and applying and maybe some day an employer will take a chance on me.

Sorry for the short sad rant. I don't open up much.


One month. Although, it was a part-time job. I was selling ice cream at a theme park. My boss complained that I didn't sell enough ice cream but:

  1. It was December
  2. It was the week before Christmas
  3. It was thunderstorms & heavy rain. I was outside, selling ice cream, in the rain.

My boss said to me that if I didn't sell 10 ice creams by the end of the day, I'd be getting fired. It was christmas eve. At an amusement park, outside, in the cold. It was raining so incredibly hard.

So glad I never went back 😂😂😂


I am still working at the company for last one and half years.
This is my first tech job and i love working the team .
One of the things that we really like about our company is the emphasis on the quality of the products we built.


I stayed for years in my last job, with different positions. My colleagues were just awesome but the working flow, my boss, the company direction there were never clear. I just burnt out.
Luckly I did, thanks to that I reallized what I wanted to do in my life. Since then I didn't have a clue.


I stayed at my first job for almost six years and I still regret not leaving after about half that time. It was my first job after graduating from university and moving to a new city, so I had made a number of friends there too.

Once I finally did leave I was much happier and I had less fear leaving future jobs. I think part of it was confidence too, my next job had me working with a lot of awesome people and I was able to hold my own which boosted my confidence immensely.

My current job might have taken the record for how quickly I sour on a job though ☹️


I stayed at two jobs for about a year after realizing I hated them. Part of that was due to just being busy and not having a ton of time to apply, interview etc. The other part was spent doing those things, but it can be slow when finding a remote job.


About a year and a half and it was when I was still in real estate sales. Wasn't happy about my boss. I had to wait until I got 85% of my commission because he threatened to have my money held if I left. Also we kept on travelling overseas hence the length of my stay. lol


2 years 1 mo, but that was my first job and they were rare to find where I lived back then. Also wasn't development related in any way. Was long before I realized this is what I want to do. Last would have been a store manager job, 1 year 2 months, got tired of "just getting by" and not feeling challenged in the work at all. Turned in 2 week notice and went to Lambda School full time, 40+ hours a week for 7 months, transition in to the dev world :) And..Currently in a call center tech support job while looking for dev work. Have survived a whole month so far. Pushing to get in to their software dev team but they "have a process" for that.


7 months. The management really killed all the joy and were shifting focus a couple of times a day, so the context switching destroyed all the productivity and flow.

A lot of developers resigned collectively and I was one of them.


Being a waiter for 2 years to pay for school. It was a really tough job, stress from demanding supervisor and customers.

The worst was the smell of food on your fingers whenever you had ended your work.

This made me appreciate being a waiter and i sort of had the "habit" of cleaning up after I'm finished and saying thank you to them.


I knew I was unhappy in the middle winter, but I wanted to give things a chance to improve. Indiana winters can be pretty rough in general and people get moody around the holidays. Then, winter ended and nothing was better.

After that, I started a class I had no choice but to commute 12 hours a week for. That lasted for about 3 months. I knew my chances of finding another job during that stint were pretty low. So I stayed.

At this point, I only had one class left for my degree (which I’m currently taking online). I really wanted to stick it out through the end of summer and my course, but things were getting bad. We had tense arguments on accessibility, I wasn’t having things assigned to me, I felt like a low priority, and my body was getting sick often.

I’d say it was almost 6 months. Retrospectively, I would have looked sooner if I could have.


A year just to finish out the contract and to not burn bridges. It was hard because it was an organization I’ve worked with for years but had no idea how toxic it would be behind the scenes. I just wanted to go back to the way things were 😔


Close to 2 years, after 90% of my colleagues were laid off. I'd probably still be there except that I put my hand up for a voluntary redundancy.

I should have left a lot earlier. The mental drain was more than I could cope with, but unfortunately i didn't realise this until just recently.


I have worked in three jobs. The second job is that I am not satisfied. The main reason is that when I officially entered the job, the person interviewing me (he is also the general manager of the project) actually left the company, causing the whole project to be in a state of paralysis. After 2 months of difficult project maintenance, I chose to leave the company. I think this company lacks integrity.
surprised facee
image via pinpng.com/picture/ixihR_surprised...


One year. Which was longer than I probably should have, but I never quite reached the point with that job of, "I will take any possible contract or job to get the hell out of here." So I could take my time with it.

Most of the time, if I reach the point of actual unhappiness, I start searching immediately and have something new within three months.

I have never yet actually left a job voluntarily without something new lined up, although I have come close once or twice.


I once landed a job in a company I knew quite well (many textbooks for the North American market was produced by this company). I took the job not because I liked the idea of working there, but that it was much closer to home than I job I genuinely liked.

Over the course of my 2 years there, I worked on a large project that had a ton of potential, but was not actively sold by the sales people because they thought they wouldn't get their commission for selling it. Also tried doing a responsive design (back when it was relatively new concept) but was panned as not having a strong brand - even though it was based on the original designs.

I was able to work on some pretty cool projects for the time I was there.

Then new projects I was to work on started getting cancelled. It was too little too late on the digital front, and competitors were ahead of the game. I was there for almost 3 months, doing basically nothing, before they laid me off (and about 30 others from my department). I probably would have stayed there had I not been laid off... only because it was a 10 minute drive from home.


About a year now. Been at the company for 4 years really.
I actually had a job offer at another company not too long ago and it was even more money. But something about it seemed off and couldn't commit myself to accept if I was afraid I might be unhappy again within a year. Though now it's getting worse and worse that I do regret not taking it.


As a student who is not in any company yet, I am quite saddened to read these stories here.

Universities brag about their intership/job opportunities offered for last year students but hardly prepare for job.
ALL OF THE STORIES I read here are about mental difficulty of jobs. I want to prepare myself to world in mental regard too but don't know where to start.


3 or 4 years. I've never stayed in a job longer than that, and I've almost always ended up leaving because the company made redundancies.


This would be a tough one for me to answer. I sometimes have a hard time being honest with myself about bad situations, and rarely reach a lot of clarity.


Worked at a company for ~3 years part time/full time(during holidays) as a developer and really most things were pretty terrible (constant crunch, terrible culture etc etc). Luckily I got out 😂


Probably only a few months. That's about how long it takes to notice something is going wrong, trying to fix it, and then realizing there is no way to fix it.


3 months or so. Started in February 2017 left in June, I think.
Just a terrible place to work for as a programmer.


Defense contracting for six months. I left without having anything lined up because I couldn't make it through the day without hating myself.


3 years, I was happy coding and learning .. but with poor perks and a very toxic environment I was very very happy the day I resigned.


Happiness is a choice. So does decision to stay or leave your current job.


1 year, and i hated it so bad i'm still spooked on all my recent jobs.

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