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This is related to the (closed) question New job - not got any work to do.

I'm a week and a half into a brand new job and despite asking for work to do I keep being brushed off. The set-up here is just an aggregate of of services, which are then provided to the outside world, so any bugs that do occur are usuaully with the service provider so as far as I can tell there's very little to do.

In my first week a contractor actually quit (after a month of just sitting there) and a co-worker (6 weeks in) was discussing leaving, am I destined to go the same way?

I moved cities for this job, and would hate to think of the impact on my cv of a short stint at a big company - may look like I can't 'hack' it to future employers?

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closed as off topic by gnat, Ryathal, Walter, Thomas Owens Aug 27 '12 at 15:22

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Try to find something very quickly. If you succeed then there is no need to mention in the future your "week and a half into a brand new job" at all. –  user8685 May 24 '11 at 15:42
Possible duplicate: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/3272/… –  Anna Lear May 24 '11 at 15:42
A short stay at a job is usually very easy to explain--particularly in a case like this. If you have a history of staying with companies for much longer, than the one that doesn't match the rest is usually not a factor. Just be careful how you phrase the quick turnover. It's OK to say they didn't have enough work on that contract--it's not OK to put the company in a bad light. –  Berin Loritsch May 24 '11 at 15:49
This reminds of the bad old days where people were hired to be warm bodies at a desk, not work. I knew a few who never quit, they just got work from home permission, got a new job and 2 paychecks for awhile. –  dietbuddha May 24 '11 at 16:03
I have had this problem with the experanced staff having so much fire fighting that they did not have time to give work to the new staff. –  Ian May 24 '11 at 16:09

10 Answers 10

So you are getting paid but don't have any actual work too do? Where do I sign up :)

Don't quit to soon, I think there is plenty you can do:

  • Learn more about the company; even if your direct boss doesn't know of a job for you, there are probably plenty of users with IT problems you can fix. For example: if one of the service providers fails, is it always immediately obvious which one has failed and how to fix/report this? Or, can you reduce the impact of service provider problems?
  • Learn some new technologies, which may be relevant in your current job or when you move on.

But whatever you do, make sure your boss always knows what you're working on, and approves.

[update] You don't want this to last too long of course. If you're not feeling useful, raise it with your boss (again). After six weeks or so I would definitely start looking around. My point is there is no reason to be completely dependent on assignments handed to you by your boss. He might like it if you show some initiative :)

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This can be like riding a bubble on the stock market. You want to try and milk the cow as long as you can but once they realize you are expendable then the bubble bursts. You want to try and get out before this happens. –  maple_shaft May 24 '11 at 16:05
Sure, you don't want this to last too long, and if you can find a better job somewhere else you should move on. I'll update my answer. –  Jaap May 24 '11 at 16:13
I know this thread is old, but Im sitting in the same postion. I worked at a company where the overtime was rediculous. Then I moved to another company and sat on my @ss for 5 months doing practicly nothing. It was so bad the boss started avoiding me and went to the other office everydat instead. I finally quit and moved to a large tehcnology comapany. Lo and behold 1.5 weeks in and nothing. Its like I was hired because they are scared the might not find my skillset in the market.Some might think its funny, but its like the sword of democales handing over you. –  Gerrie Jul 11 '12 at 7:19

My advice would be to find someone who is doing interesting work, and try to help them do that work. The worst thing you can do is just sit on your thumbs. If you do that, they're bound to wonder, eventually, why they're paying you.

I got hired by a consulting company once, with about 5 other guys, for a project that ended up falling through. Some web thing; I was the back end guy, doing the server infrastructure.

The other guys sat around drinking coffee, waiting for something to happen, and I wandered the building until I found something I wanted to do. There was another consulting team doing some really sexy linux stuff, which was vastly more to my taste than the job I'd actually been hired for. I insinuated myself into their brainstorming session, told them I didn't currently have anything to do, and offered to help.

I was out of the building when they fired the other guys, and when I came back, I got called into the bosses office...and given a raise, because the unix guys made more than the web guys. If I had applied for that job, I wouldn't have gotten it, but I'd already proven I could do the work so they kept me on.

Their disorganization is an opportunity for you.

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There are a few ways you could go in this situation. First, try and salvage the job you currently have. You put a lot in for this job. Moving to a new city for a new job is stressful, and it's a big investment on your part.

Who interviewed you? What did they say you'd be working on in the interview? Go to said person and ask for said work.

Do you have access to a bug/ticket tracking system? If so, see if there are bugs you can work on in there.

Do you have weekly/daily meetings? In there mention you are free and ready for some real work.

Walk around and talk with people and ask if they need any help.

If none of this extra effort provides you with work, I'd suggest looking at moving on. I wouldn't worry too much about the negative impact on your resume. If it's under a month, don't put it on. If you do put it on and are asked about the short time frame, be honest but don't bad mouth the company.

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Learning is one of the biggest things a job can offer you, in addition to your salary.

It has been 2 weeks in for you - I am totally sure that you have not learnt the ins and outs of all these services you were talking about; The company's internal tools/platforms; Software processes; Coding standards etc.

You see time, I see opportunity. So get that learning stuff going. This kind of time outs happen very infrequently in a professional setting, use it wisely.

2 weeks is not an ideal time to decide whether you want to quit. Give it time.

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While this isn't an uncommon management anti-pattern it is not as prevalent. Sometimes organizations that are good at finding talent are poor at utilizing their resources effectively. This can happen for a number of reasons:

  1. Project scope was grossly miscalculated
  2. Budgetary concerns, departments that operate on a budget will possibly get a much smaller budget next year if they don't spend it all.
  3. Sometimes organizations will bring on more talent than needed to simply appear "bigger". Prospective clients may perceive a business partner's small operation as an inherent risk and may pass them up.

You may want to find another job. All it would take is a management shakeup for people to realize you are expendable and then you are screwed.

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I've had this happen before at big companies. One of them took over a week to get me a computer and then another three weeks for network access. After asking around, I found out that this is just part of their process. Whatever paperwork and approvals need to happen for these seemingly simple tasks take weeks and they have no intention of changing. They were happy to pay employees to do nothing for a month rather than pay the cost to improve the process. This was a Fortune 10 company so it's not like it was going to put them out of business.

At another company, it took almost two months before I had an assignment. They were hiring simply to bank people for when they needed them. It's really not that uncommon just can be very frustrating while sitting there all day bored. Maybe you should give it a couple of months and if no work comes your way, start looking elsewhere.

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If you are working for a company like this you will irritate everyone demanding to be given something to do while they're working through their process. All the answers that suggest offering to help others, or learning on your own initiative, are the safe answers if this is the kind of company you've landed in. –  Kate Gregory May 25 '11 at 22:20

If you have free time that you can do whatever you want you should pick up some hobbies or study things or work on small side jobs that you could do at work. My dad had a job like that and he studied in his spare time when he was at work and ended up getting a bachelors degree. If you're a programmer you could make some websites on the side, maybe do a blog or something that has ads and make a little extra cash like that.

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You're being paid without having to do any work? Sounds like "The Summer of George".

But jokes aside, surely somethign must be done - if you are meeting a lot of resistance from your manager, why not try to connect horizontally with your peers, or slightly senior devs?

One approach would be to ask some of them to asign you parts or some of their tasks,i.e. an error handler for a major component they are building, or fixing some null reference or whatever.

I am sure they would appreciate your help and believe me you will gain much more respect by interfacing horizontally.

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There are inefficiencies in any organization. Find them, then fix them.

I recall reading from Matthew May that either he, or someone he was writing about, was hired at Toyota and when asking his boss what he should do, the boss replied: "look around, find something to help with" and before long, he was really busy and really happy, because he could work on exactly the kind of problems that interested him.

I suggest you do this. They are paying you after all.

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Make sure you have the right information to put on your timesheet and use the time to learn about the company, which technologies would be useful and go learn things you might not have time to learn otherwise. This can actually be a blessing in disguise. They hired you expecting some need and that may come in the future.

Also - be on alert to signs that they may actually let you go. If you don't see them, enjoy your stay. If nothing changes in a couple of weeks, polish your resume and look around in town for something else. These is not real shortage of work despite the economic downturn (in the US I mean)

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