Thanks for hiring me, I quit.
August 15, 2009 10:17 AM   Subscribe

I started working at my current software engineering job in March. People have treated me well and been good to me, but the job is boring and has little chance for growth. Is it too early to apply for internal positions at the same employer (and will people be upset)? [more inside]

I graduated after the dot com bubble and took the first job that I was offered. I stuck around for about 6 years with the expectation of "great things" that never seemed to materialize. For much of that time I was contracted out to a government lab for work on a small but very high-profile project.

The people at the government lab knew that I wasn't happy with my employer and managed to get me a job offer here after a year of efforts. I started as a government employee in March. This wasn't a favor to a friend - I can say with 100% certainty that I was essential to the success of this project, and they didn't want to lose me.

The people here have been good to me, but I feel like I'm dead-ended. They talk about giving me more managerial responsibilities on this small project, but I don't think much will happen, due to political factors unrelated to me or my performance. Further, they recently hired a new software engineer who seems to be working out very well so I wouldn't be leaving them completely swinging in the wind.

I just saw an internal posting for another division at this lab. It's technically in the same pay grade, but whomever gets this job will be eligible for a semi-automatic promotion to the next pay band in a few years (my current position is ineligible for that type of promotion). This promotion would result in a 20% boost in salary. Further, the new position is supervisory and looks to be more in line with my interests.

I'm really kind of sick of my current job - it's not intellectually stimulating (it's basically just more of the same) and I don't see much room for growth. I'm not a shoe-in for the new position and have no contacts in the other division, so I can't estimate the odds of being offered this new role. Given that word spreads quickly, I'm sure to generate some hurt feelings if I apply and don't get it.

Assuming it's not too early to apply for this position, what should I tell my current boss?
posted by taojones to Work & Money (5 answers total)
There's a good chance you'd step on toes and maybe even get fired. Especially since you're not even past your probationary period.

If that risk is acceptable to you, then go for it. I would.
posted by randomstriker at 10:37 AM on August 15, 2009

This isn't the economic climate to be taking risks. Wait for another 6 months - 1 year until you go looking.
posted by sid at 10:41 AM on August 15, 2009

So much depends on the particular culture of your job or group that I don't know if we can answer usefully. But I'd say give it a shot, even though your worries are reasonable ones.

The standard AskMe answer to this sort of question is "Your employer wouldn't spend money purely out of loyalty to you, so don't think that you need to be unhappy out of loyalty to them."

A couple of times this has happened where I work (someone was hired, and shortly thereafter found a job that was much more in line with their personal interests, and left for it) and AFAIK didn't result in hard feelings.

Is there any chance you could talk to your current manager about this? Or would you end up simply burning your bridges before crossing them?
posted by hattifattener at 10:45 AM on August 15, 2009

At my government lab, we are profoundly grateful when a dedicated, talented person applies for one of our low-paying dead-end jobs. If they stick it out for a few years, we are happy to write glowing letters of recommendation for better jobs. If they stick it out and then apply for a better job within the lab, we thank our lucky stars we aren't losing the person. The question for you is whether the six years counts as part of "sticking it out", or just since March. The best thing to do, actually, is to make that your supervisors are aware that you are applying and why you are applying. Then if you get the job, it's not a betrayal so much as a re-alignment of a talented person to the greater benefit of the lab as a whole. That's how our research leader looks at it, and he tries to smooth the transition and make sure everybody is happy about the change. If you get the research leader on your side, and your boss understands your dissatisfaction at having too little stimulation, I think you'll do fine.
posted by acrasis at 10:53 AM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Applying for internally advertised positions is not a betrayal (that's why they're internally advertised! sheesh), it's showing initiative and demonstrating that you can do more for your employer than just code-monkeying. Go for it.
posted by polyglot at 8:18 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

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