A guest post by Louisa Nicholson

Listed in order of importance, the top 20 signs that you’re working for the wrong design company:

20. You aren’t making what industry says you should for your area. For the United States, reference the AIGA surveys

19. The clients like you better than your boss.

18. You work overtime when you don’t want to.

17. If you had to sign rights away to do competitive work and you enjoy working freelance on the side.

16. You’re ashamed to say you work there.

15. You don’t feel challenged anymore.

14. You work fulltime but don’t receive decent insurance options.

13. You think you can make better business decisions than your boss does.

12. Your boss doesn’t push your ideas or concerns to the clients.

11. Your boss won’t let you try out ideas and take the time to mock them up.

10. Your coworkers are annoying, enjoy gossip or create office politics.

09. You aren’t getting recognition for your work or you are never thanked.

08. You’re unexplainably depressed every time you have to go in.

07. Boredom.

06. You’re ashamed to give away your business card.

05. Nobody communicates.

04. You find coworkers lying about your work or taking credit for what you did.

03. Your boss is a nightmare, take the bad boss quiz and a single YES answer qualifies as a bad boss.

02. You only get paid on commission when it’s the salesperson’s job to find the work in the first place.

01. Your boss edits every piece before sending it off, leaving you with no footprint of your own and no portfolio piece.

People get stuck at bad companies in the same way people can get stuck in bad relationships. Try to talk it over with your boss and if change hasn’t happened yet, it won’t, these symptoms will get worse just like it would in a relationship that just isn’t working out. We tell ourselves it’s our fault for some reason or another and it doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t, if you experience many of the symptoms above, it’s time you went somewhere else. Whether it’s a new career change, going freelance or simply finding that ideal design firm to work for, it’s time to make the career leap of faith. Sometimes after you’ve given notice your boss will try and convince you to stay as well, even match the offer, but do not give in! Feel resolved and stick with it, you’re making the right decision.

Don’t burn bridges though, no matter how hard it is not to be completely honest. You will be surprised how much work I get put into my lap from past employers. Thank them for all their hard work, the opportunity to having worked with them and give them ample notice of when you’re leaving. When asked why you decided to go someplace else, be honest, tactful and humble about it. Ask them how you can make this process as easy as possible and how you can wrap things up before you leave. Make sure you take notes on what improvements you have to make as an employee. Also, make sure to research potential employers better; during the interview ask them how they could improve their own company. My best advice though: don’t judge your current or future job based on money, you will be unhappy again in 6 months.

If you’ve decided to quit in order to start your own business or go freelance though, remember that you may end up creating a worse atmosphere than your last workplace or boss, especially if you started the business because you were angry at your last workplace. No one said you’re automatically qualified for the “Boss” title. Take a vacation after this, work somewhere else, and if after 6 months if you still feel the same way, then you can go for it!

What are things you look for in being employed at a good design company? What advice could you give everyone?

LouisaLouisa Nicholson is a graphic designer, interface designer, web developer & creative writer in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. Her day job entails creative development for numerous clients ranging from small business to Fortune 500, corporate to organization. You can view her web portfolio and other projects created by Louisa at www.louisanicholson.com.