Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh, Come On...

So ... this week, things at my work got very, very, very, very busy. Like, we've taken on a number of new projects and are about to go through a massive training session and a months-long transition into a new computer system and an entire overhaul of how we do things. I got appointed to be one of the "point people" overseeing this transition, since I've worked here for awhile and since I have a background in teaching and have thus always been particularly good at training my colleagues and answering questions.

My boss is going out of town for a few days, but before he left, he said that if I was willing to stay on for a bit longer (just to see us through this transition, which should be over by the fall or perhaps very early winter), he would be willing to "pay me a lot more."

Basically, I'm working here for now anyway and would probably be here through at least the first part of the transition. But if I'd agree to sign a contract for 6-8 months saying that I wouldn't leave until it was up, I could get a big raise. And would then be free to leave once the transition is done in the fall or winter, as long as I gave a few weeks' notice (which I would definitely do, just out of respect).

For the past week, I've been thinking that I should take him up on this offer, because I had no other job prospects and because, frankly, he's been a great boss to me. I sort of feel like agreeing to hang out for awhile (in exchange for a big raise) is the least I can do for him ... and for myself, since a raise is always nice. Plus, I don't hate this job. Also, having 6-8 months of just working and no job-searching might give me some more time to think about what I want to do next or to do some informational interviewing or volunteering to test out different career options.

So that was in the back of my mind at the beginning of the week. Do I take his offer?

Then later this week, my partner got a lead on an interesting job that might lead his career in a slightly different direction. The job would be here in Grad U City, but it would allow him to get his foot in the door in a different industry that he's long thought he might want to work in. It would be something he would plan to do for 6-9 months or so, and then start applying to companies in Dream City once he would have "experience" under his belt. He also knows the person whose job is opening up, who's offered to put in a good word for him.

There are obviously no guarantees that this will even turn into anything, but since I had no real job prospects I told him that he should pursue the job. If he got it, we'd hang out a bit longer and I'd just keep working here while he gained some experience (and again, I could explore other careers in my down time). If he didn't, we'd just continue on the same path we're on. So he started revising his resume and went and met with his friend and basically got his name in the pool.

No guarantees, of course, but I'm thrilled that this job suddenly appeared for him. The industry he works in now is not a traditional one where jobs are posted on job-seeker sites and whatnot, so it was going to be tough for him to get a job doing exactly what he's doing in Dream City, without putting in a few years of time at a lower-level position. But if he moves to this other industry, he would be able to find comparable positions elsewhere right away. Win!

So last night we were talking, and we agreed that I would take my boss up on his offer of a raise, and in the meantime my partner could pursue this new job and possibly some other opportunities for his career while I kept thinking about future jobs. Then in the fall, we'd see where we stood and go from there. So I decided I would talk to my boss about his offer on Tuesday when he's back in the office. I emailed him requesting a meeting, and we set one up for next week.

And just now - about five minutes ago? I got a call from the company I interviewed with last month, requesting an on-site interview.



For the record, I don't think I want this job for numerous reasons. It's not like I just got offered an interview for my dream job.

And I'm encouraged that I got an interview off of just two resumes sent out in this industry. It gives me confidence that if I applied to more jobs in this industry, I'd continue to get interviews. So there's no need to feel like this is my One and Only Shot at moving.

But part of me feels like if I accept this raise and agree to stay a little bit longer, I will be stuck here forever and ever and ever in this job. And I know that I don't want that.

And yet, I really don't feel like this is the time I want to bail out on my current job, nor do I think that this is the new job I want to jump for. It's in the same industry I work in, but has little to no room for advancement. They also talked salary with me in the phone interview, and I wouldn't make any more money than what Current Boss is willing to pay me. Really, the only advantage I see in this job is that it's in Dream City. Otherwise, it doesn't feel right. Or maybe I'm just talking myself out of it. I don't even know anymore.

But am I seriously going to turn down a job interview?????

And also, am I seriously going to say to my partner (one day after telling him he should pursue interesting career leads), "oh yeah, sorry about that ... you have to stop pursuing that other job. I (hypothetically) got a job I'm not even marginally excited about, so you have to give up on your dream of doing something different. Yippee!"

Good thing I have the whole weekend to think about it, I guess. Any advice?


  1. I think you need to ask yourself whether moving to Dream City is more important than figuring out what you want to do with your life. Not that you can't get both, just that one will come sooner than the other.

    For me, I would prioritize career over moving, especially if I was in the comfortable situation that you are in (i.e. having a stable job that pays the bills). I'd decline the on-site interview with this company, particularly because you don't want to continue in this industry in the long-term. Going to the on-site would be way more helpful if it was in an industry that you were interested in, even if you didn't want to take the particular job. My partner is currently interviewing for jobs and the phone interview have been very different from the on-site. Although he hasn't gotten any offers yet, he's getting a much better picture of what he is qualified for, which jobs to apply for, and how to sell himself based on his experiences with the on-site interviews. (You'd think that these companies would be better at describing their ideal candidates in their job ads, but from what my partner has told me, the hiring process is based on "tacit" knowledge that can't be seen in resumes and cover letters, nor phone interviews. This might be specific to his industry, but I'm not sure. I'd rather just think of interviews as experience and the more experience, the better).

    In your case, I'd say that you might as well spend the extra time figuring out what you ultimately want to do and give your partner the time to build his resume in his industry. In addition, you could save the extra money that you earn from this promotion to use towards the move or even to ease up some time to do volunteering/internships related to the career that you truly want. That way both of you will be better prepared to move to Dream City.

    1. Hmmm. I'd have to say I think you should go do the interview, even if you're pretty much set on staying where you are. Two reasons: 1) interview practice never hurts, even you know it's probably not the right job right now and 2) if they do make you an offer, you can use it as leverage for a better raise at your current job -- i.e. "Current Boss, I'd really like to stay and your offer is generous, but I have this other offer in Dream City for the same amount. A raise of X above that amount would make me feel like I'd made the right decision in staying here for a while longer." Or something along those lines ...

    2. (Same person as 2:19 pm)

      I can see how the job offer from the on-site would be helpful in negotiating a pay raise, although JC did say that this job would probably not offer anything close to what ze is making right now. I really don't think the interview is going to be that helpful for practice if it is not the industry that JC wants to pursue. The language will be different, and even the questions might differ.

      It's good to argue about this stuff. It's definitely helping me to think more critically about pursuing my new career path in the "real world."

  2. I disagree with recent Ph.D. I think you shouldn't go for the interview if you're not keen at all on the job. It wastes everyone's time. The director (or at least your potential supervisor), the HR person and YOU. You have to at least prepare for the interview, read up everything you can on the company and on the industry that you aren't even keen on.

    Sure, from the interviewees' point of view, it's a great thing since you get those extra perks (interview practice and possible leverage). But I think it's irresponsible to go for an interview knowing you're gonna turn it down. In addition, you're probably depriving someone else of this interview chance.

    I was once in the exact same position. And I did get short-listed after the interview with a higher pay. After I turned it down, they had to do the search all over again. (I know because I was on good terms with the HR person-in-charge).

    Just my 2 cents worth...

  3. I am inclined to agree with recent Ph.D. on this one. Every interview, regardless of what it is for, improves your poise and increases your overall comfort with interview-like interactions. You can also leverage the situation into a more substantial raise. Higher pay at your current company in turn gives you greater salary-negotiating power when you do decide to transition to another organization. Go with your gut, good luck, and enjoy your post-academic career!

  4. I too will toss my hat in the ring (though at some point I wonder if all these opinions might just "muddy" your thinking. I know they might for me.).

    You may have addressed this in the post and I missed it, but how far is Dream City from you now? Will it take a lot of cost and effort to go to this interview? If so, I might be inclined to skip it.

    This is probably the poor graduate student's perspective, but I know I wouldn't want to book a plane ticket, get the 'ol suit ready and a new hair cut, take the time off work, etc if I was positive I didn't want the job.

    Now, if it was down the road from me? I might do it for the experience and "waste" the time of all involved for my own selfish gains :)

    Also, and this is maybe a minor point...we're told to go on every interview, that every job is the last job in academe...and I wonder how much of that is still rolling around your head? Yes, interview experience is always valuable, but I'm guessing you have SOME decent interview skill set or you wouldn't have your job, have had other successful interviews. Just food for thought.

    Best of luck whatever you decide and savor your successes, even though they've caused some "hard choices" at the moment.

  5. Yes, I'd agree that if booking a plane ticket is required, don't go. But on the issue of wasting people's time? Not a huge issue. From what I've observed outside academe, interviews are as much about serious job hunting as they are about networking, on the employer's end as well as the potential employee's. Think Tank Boss has interviewed a number of people for both open positions as well as jobs that "may" become open. So far, ze has not hired anyone from these interviews, but ze keeps their resumes and has passed them along to other people ze knows who have jobs open. The one position ze did fill since I started there was publicly advertised but ze hired someone ze had met before whose resume ze already had. That person never formally applied. Think Tank Boss simply called hir up and said, "Hey, I have this job open. Are you interested? What can I offer to convince you to leave your current position?"

    This is just my two cents. I don't know if it works this way in every industry or every city, but where I am who you know counts for a lot. And an element of interviewing is simply networking.

    Good luck whichever direction you take!

  6. Thanks everyone - I am reading all of these replies and thinking about my options. Keep 'em coming - I have 48 more hours to decide what to do.

    The trip to Dream City wouldn't require a plane ride, but it would require a couple tanks of gas and a hotel room, and a day off work when I'm running down on vacation time (and frankly, would prefer to take days off for vacations or interviews for jobs I'd actually want. :)

    As to the moving v. career dichotomy - right now, I think I'd rather focus on my career. My partner and I are okay in Grad U City right now. I think that by the end of this calendar year, I'd be a lot more desperate to just get moved. But right now, I'm not chomping at the bit to move tomorrow or anything.

    I'm leaning toward the "don't take the interview" side of things right now. I do have interview experience and am usually pretty successful in (nonacademic) interview settings, so getting interview experience on its own isn't really the big draw for me. I'm not sure I want to travel for a few days for an interview for a job I don't want, just for the experience.

    My partner also pointed out that if I declined the interview I could probably word it in such a way that I wouldn't burn my bridges with them if I decided I wanted to apply for a job there in the future (for example, saying that I would love to interview but that I'd signed a year-long contract with my current job since I hadn't gotten any other offers yet). I don't see myself actually turning around and working for this company in the future, but I'd hate to just burn my bridges by basically saying "nah, I'm not interested in your job."

    Making it sound like I would definitely interview and consider an offer if the circumstances/timing were different (which is actually basically true) might be a good plan?

    1. I think your idea - of declining the interview and using your partner's wording - sounds good as it keeps options open as much as possible. It makes you look good to the employer who is offering the on-site as it shows that you are honest and considerate of their time.

  7. Easy JC... Dont waste time on this new interview... Stay a bit longer in your current job, and you dont need to "practice the interviews"... You did it already (sometimes) while attending Academia... First instincts have to come out first, like that first conversation with your partner. Happy weekend!