This is supposed to be a good problem to have...
February 8, 2010 10:43 AM   Subscribe

JobFilter - The short version: I've got a job I mostly love, but the company is in a bit of financial danger. I got an [unsolicited] offer for something else, and I can't figure out what to do.

So, the company I work for is pretty awesome. We do really neat work that is generally exciting, and while my particular role isn't the most exciting in the world, it's nowhere near the hell of previous jobs I used to have. I love my coworkers, and I love the work we put out. It also helps that my commute is very short and my hours are relatively stable/normal except sometimes the last week of a project they get rough.

However, the company I work for is in a bit of financial turmoil, and may or may not make it through the year. They'll know more firmly come summer if things are crashing/burning, or if a couple of huge projects (which are in the pipeline, but not secured yet) come in and would safely float us for another year.

I got an unsolicited request a couple of weeks ago from a recruiter, and figured that as much as I love my current job, it would be foolish of me to not at least see what they had to say about this opportunity.

I have since gotten an offer out of this opportunity - for considerably more money than I make now. The thing is, while I'd love more money, I make enough to pay my mortgage and at least not be scraping my couch for change, so money is not my #1 motivator.

This new opportunity does seem interesting, though the work they do is not the same kind of "show off this new thing we made to friends" stuff, it is still interesting. It would be a position of authority (same title as I have now) at a company that not only makes boatloads of money, but is owned by people who could float it for years on end even if it wasn't making that money.

On the flip side of that coin, it's a substantial commute and would probably end up entailing a bigger workload than my current job.

Here's where stuff gets really crazy: I have a great deal of respect for / loyalty to my current coworkers... so after a lot of deliberation, I thought about these pros/cons and turned down the offer... I had a conversation with the owner of the company I work for about where he felt things were going, and told him I wasn't interested in another penny, I just wanted to know that he didn't already have it in the back of his head that we were pretty much closing down this summer. If that was the case, I was prepared to turn down this offer.

He told me that was the case, and I turned it down...

A big part of my decision hinged upon two things:

1) I'm content where I'm at now, despite the uncertainty about the future...
2) The company I work for is VERY small, and I have a pretty key role there... my departure could have a serious negative impact, and I don't feel very good about that...

Well, here's the problem: They came back to me this past weekend and basically said they're willing to do whatever it takes to get me. They understand that money isn't my main motivator, and while they're still willing to give me more money, the key things they've offered to try and sway me are:

1) As long as I'll commit to them, they'll give me the time I need to make a transition... they'll wait a couple of months for me if I want to give 2 months notice instead of 2 weeks, and help my current employer find a replacement for me, etc etc...

2) They understand I'm not thrilled about the commute, and are offering not only flexible work hours, but are willing to let me work from home whenever I want/need to, pretty much.

Ultimately, I think in the long term I'd enjoy the work more at my current job... It's also the "devil I know", and I know I like the people I work with, whereas the new opportunity is an unknown - though I've interviewed with all of the higherups there and found them likable so far.

However, this other opportunity has vastly greater financial growth potential... as in early retirement sort of potential... and while money isn't my main motivator, the amount I could be making at this place isn't just "some extra money"... it could well be life changing... The way I'm describing this probably makes it seem like a commissioned position etc - it's not... basically they want this person they hire to grow into a C-level position within 1-2 years once they're sure they've got the right guy/girl.

I can't figure out what to do here... I feel like if I leave my current job I could really hurt the company and definitely the owner who I've already told I turned down this new opportunity... I also could miss out on some really exciting work if it does end up coming through...

If I don't take this new job, though, I could be passing up a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a huge impact on a fast growing company with some insanely high profile clients... not to mention passing up ridiculous stacks of money...

I can't even figure out if my dilemma is which job to take... or if it's how to break that decision to whichever side I am ultimately going to upset... I've hardly slept the last couple of days because I can't figure out what to do...
posted by doompuppy to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you need to do a cost benefit analysis.

Your new job, if you take it, has more costs associated with it: a longer commute, more responsibilities, perhaps longer hours. Your new job also has more benefits: more money, more responsibilities (some would consider this only to be a cost), etc.

The question for you is whether the extra benefits exceed the extra costs. If they do, then you should take the job. If they don't you should decline it.

Everyone has a different utility, to use an economics phrase. You have to figure out where yours lies along the cost-benefit curve.
posted by dfriedman at 10:51 AM on February 8, 2010

Here's where you're wrong

If I don't take this new job, though, I could be passing up a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a huge impact on a fast growing company with some insanely high profile clients

You have the resume, personality, and skills to land another job. You just proved this by getting the offer. You did this once, you can do it again.

There are always opportunities to work in jobs where you can make an impact. Based on everything you said I'd stick with the job you have have. You're paying your bills and the quality of life w/r/t your commute is a huge win. If the company you're working for now dies on the vine you'll be able to land another job, and you'll never be left wondering if you were the one who killed the company.
posted by alana at 10:57 AM on February 8, 2010

Even though you like the company and your co-workers, do not make loyalty a factor in this decision. It's not like they will keep the company open just for you if it comes to that and you are not responsible for keeping the company afloat.

I don't mean to sound cold, but this is business and it sounds like you're weighing more money, great career move, telecommuting against nice people and a few interesting projects. If you do take the job, you tell the owner that you can't refuse the opportunity the new company is giving you for your career. It's tough, but your priority making this decision should be what's best for you.
posted by Kimberly at 11:21 AM on February 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Can you take the new job and keep some sort of small consultancy with the old job, for a while, so they won't sink without you?
posted by Vaike at 12:51 PM on February 8, 2010

Seconding Vaike... if the new company is willing to do whatever it takes to get you, they will no doubt be fine with letting you work as a consultant for your current company, possibly even during normal work hours if necessary. And you can stay loyal to your current company without risking your livelihood.

I am in a nearly identical position right now at my own job: a vital part of a failing company. Only difference is I don't have your job offer. If I had an opportunity like yours, I would jump at it, while offering my consultancy to my current company for as long as they needed. It may not be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as alan pointed out, but the chances are low that you'll get something this good if and when your company fails in a few months. You're being offered a lifeboat; if you don't take it, you may have to swim when the ship goes down.
posted by relucent at 1:54 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can't know what's going to happen tomorrow. The fact that you already KNOW that your current company is in financial jeopardy is a HUGE gift. Of course, the new company could also go under, lose funding, or eliminate your position. Anything is possible.

Nthing that you are being offered a lifeboat that many people would kill to have. The loyalty is admirable but it will not pay your rent.
posted by micawber at 2:02 PM on February 8, 2010

I kind of have to agree with relucent. I get the feeling that you really don't want job #2 unless job #1 is gone, but... Right now you are being offered another job, but if your current ship goes down, that might not be the case a few months from now when job #2 has hired someone else and there's no job #3 on the horizon. It sounds like the place you love is dicey and picking loyalty/great commute, etc. over saving your own skin is a 50/50 bet at best.

I do like this consultant idea, though, if you can pull that off.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:30 PM on February 8, 2010

I was in a similar situation last year, and the decision was so nerve-wracking - I don't think I slept much during that time either.

One thing I didn't see mentioned in your question - if you didn't have this offer, would you be perfectly happy staying with your current company indefinitely (til you retire?), or do you think you would eventually reach a ceiling there and want to start looking elsewhere? If the latter, then I'd take this job offer now - it sounds challenging and like the type of work that could open you up to more opportunity in the future.

If you enjoy your work now and don't see yourself getting bored or complacent (and the wording of your question makes it sound like you're leaning that way), then I don't see anything wrong with staying where you are. Loyalty does count for something, and liking your work is rare enough not to give up too quickly.

(For what it's worth, I chose to stay with the old company, and while I'm happy to be there, I'm regretting the missed opportunity.)
posted by Fifi Firefox at 3:47 PM on February 8, 2010

While the emotional investment you have in Job #1 is admirable, ultimately, this is a business decision, and you should treat it as such. What is best for you, both in the long and short-term? Do that. Forget about breaking the news to whichever company you are not going to work for, or how they will survive without you. Unless you are a partner in Job #1, your only obligation is to be a good and productive employee and give an appropriate amount of notice if you decide to leave.

Also, for what it's worth, Job #2 sounds like a wonderful opportunity with a company that values you highly. Concessions such as letting you work from home, take as much time as you want to transition, and so on bodes well for your future there. Not having to live under the threat of going under in 6 months would also be a huge plus for me, both professionally and personally. No one can tell you what the best decision is for you, but the focus while deciding should definitely be on you, what you need, what you want, and what will make you happiest. Congrats & best of luck!
posted by katemcd at 6:33 PM on February 8, 2010

I was in a similar position last summer. I was in an internship that I really liked. They extended me for 6 months after the end of my internship (=big pay jump; the internship was paid). Still, I applied for other jobs - my manager even encouraged that because they didn't know the situation with keeping me on. They let me know they found the money, and then I got an interview with my current job. I went on the interview because I wanted that experience interviewing in the public sector. I got the job offer. I actually said no, because just like you, I felt bad about leaving, especially right in the middle of a huge project and felt that my leaving would have a negative impact. My new manager was impressed with my loyalty to my old workplace, but she said that I had to think about my own development and my own career. As soon as she said that I knew that I had to take the job offer because it was in a field more aligned to my interests. Pay was similar, and the commute was longer. She gave me the weekend to think about it. I hemmed and hawed, checked in with friends.

On Monday I called her and said, is it ok if I start in a month so I can wrap things up at my old job? And let me talk to my boss and get back to you. Then I talked to my then-manager and said I got a job offer, I'd like to take it, and he was very supportive. I realized that they could handle things without me (the entire organization didn't depend on me, and I once had a job where the director left and people dealt with it) and the summer student got hired into my job - I created an opportunity for someone else to have a great job. I knew this wasn't a job that I couldn't stay in for very long despite liking the work and the people - I just didn't expect to leave so soon and right in the middle of a big, important project. It was definitely the right decision. I'm in another great, though different workplace, the subject matter is more "me," the commute is longer (not hellish by any means) but I can handle it.

So, I think you should take this job offer. In my debating, a friend said, "are you going to regret not taking this job, or are you going to regret not staying in your job?" Very good question. I think you should take it because it is an amazing opportunity. Your current workplace sounds like a potentially sinking ship. If it was definitely a sinking ship would you go? Do you want to stick around to see if it'll go under? Are you in a position to help them with the financial issues?

I would take it, be honest with your boss about the offer and say that the new company will let you have 2 months to give notice. In the meantime, you will help however you can with finding a replacement, including training them (if you want to do that). People will and can adjust to your leaving. If the commute to the new place is very bad, how possible is it and how willing are you to move?

(With the mention of an internship I know I sound like I'm just out of university, but this is a two-year paid internship with the government with no age limit - you have to have graduated [college, undergrad, masters or PhD!] within two years at the time of application. I got my master's in 2005 at age 26, started the internship at age 28, and got my current job last year at age 30).
posted by foxjacket at 7:15 PM on February 9, 2010

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