One hard truth about being successful is this: You have to go above and beyond.
And personally, I’ve always taken this to heart. I’ve worked longer hours than was expected of me, said yes to almost every project, and spent way too much time perfecting assignments.
However, I’m also aware that this work ethic puts me in a difficult position—becoming a doormat for my boss or co-workers to toss anything my way.
If you’re unsure whether you’re being taken advantage of in your current job, keep an eye out for these six signs:
1. People Have Stopped Asking Whether It’s OK to Hand You More Work
The caveat with this is that from time to time, your boss is going to give you projects without getting your buy-in. This is normal and part of them being in charge of your goals and responsibilities. What’s not normal is constantly being handed extra assignments that significantly increase your workload and aren’t in-line with your job description.
Especially if these assignments are coming from your co-workers and not your boss.
2. No One Ever Says Thank You
You can’t expect a “thank you” from your manager every time you do something required of you, but if you’re never recognized for the work you do? That’s not great.
In an article by Muse writer Larry Alton called “5 Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Notice You’re Killing it at Work Lately,” he recommends, “Instead of waiting around for your manager to set a meeting, make an appointment with her—in fact, if you can, make it a weekly one.” Then, use that time to go over everything you’ve completed (and make it impossible for your boss not to acknowledge you).
And when it comes to your colleagues, check out this article.
3. You’re Spending a Majority of Time Doing Things That Are Outside Your Job Description
You’re working on things that aren’t your responsibility, and as a result never have time to complete your own projects. This maybe hurts your reputation with your boss or requires you to stay late while everyone else waltzes out at 6 PM sharp.
It’s OK to want to help others, but if it’s taking over your calendar you may need to cut down on how much assistance you offer up (read this for how to do that).
Or, if you’ve found yourself running non-work-related errands for your boss (when “personal assistant” isn’t your title), it may be time to have a tough conversation with your manager about this.
4. You’re Doing the Work of Two (or More) People
Maybe someone quit and you’re now doing two different jobs at the same time. Or, you’re working your butt off while the rest of your colleagues sit idly by and slack off.
Everyone has slower days and busier days, but if you’re feeling like the only one who’s stressed on a regular basis, it’s worth bringing this up to your boss.
If you’re unsure of how to get the conversation started, start by sending an email that says something along the lines of: I’d love to discuss my workload and priorities with you if you have some free time to meet this week, as I’ve struggled to keep up with all the new assignments sent my way. Is there a time that works best for you?
5. You Haven’t Been Compensated for Your Efforts
If all the signs above hit home, but you’ve yet to receive a raise or promotion for doing the extra work, you’re almost definitely being taken advantage of.
The one exception is if you know your company isn’t doing well—if that’s the case, I’d suggest figuring out how much compensation matters to your overall happiness. If it’s not a huge win for you, consider talking to your boss about other benefits you might be able to get in exchange.
But if that’s not the case, this is when it’s worth negotiating for a raise or title change. And because we know this is easier said than done, we put together this worksheet to help make it easier.
6. You’re Not Allowed to Take Breaks or Time Off
Similar to compensation, when you’re working extra hard you’re most certainly worthy of taking breaks here and there to recharge.
But if your manager yells at you for taking a short lunch break or never lets you go on vacation for too long (or at all), that’s a major red flag. Regardless of what industry you’re in, a good manager (and company) recognizes the importance of taking time off. All the research backs up the fact that it’s better for employee productivity and the company’s bottom line.
Here’s the hard truth: If you found yourself nodding along to this entire article, you’re in a tough spot. You can either try to fix the situation or you can start to think of your next move.
But before you do anything drastic, take a quick look in the mirror and make sure that you’re not part of the problem. That means learning to set boundaries, saying no more often, and initiating those hard conversations with your boss. Because the worst thing would be to leave this job and end up in the same situation because of your habits.