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March 28, 2010 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Job Offer Dilemma: Do I take this offer?

Back Story: I quit my job a few months ago after many years on the same job. I won't go into all the details of why I quit, but suffice it to say everyone I know says it was the right thing to do, even in "this economy." I have been enjoying the California sun for the first time in years. I am the most relaxed I have been in over a decade.

Soon after I quit, I was able to secure some freelance consulting work that takes only a few hours per week of my time and covers my rent. This will continue for at least another 3 months, but could go on for 6 or more. My wife's income covers our bills easily. We have ample savings (which I would prefer not to burn through, though) and zero debt. Meaning, if things continued on their own for the next few months, we would be using savings to pay for food, if we make no additional money. Elephant in the room: no health insurance.

Also since I quit, I established a business with a friend of mine. We are in the launching phases and have not gotten any clients yet. But things are brewing. This is something we have been threatening to do for years, and the stars seem to have finally aligned. We work well together and do quality work.

Now, out of the blue I get this job offer. They found me, sent me through several interviews and offered me a job. The company is successful. The work is not terribly interesting, but I would be getting a raise, full benefits, and the opportunity to beef out my CV. This job would fit perfectly on my resume and if I worked there for 18 months I would have a whole new skill set.

The problem for me is this: I feel like I have this perfect time to establish my own business since I have secured this consulting gig for the summer. I don't have to worry too much about money and have ample free time to really crank out the necessary work need to get it going. I am also enjoying my freedom of not having to answer to anyone. On the other hand, I have a quality job offer from a profitable company in 2010, which seems hard to come by. I have looked at applying for other jobs and there ain't much out there.

I figured I would be faced with this choice eventually, just not so soon and suddenly. When faced with a dilemma, I usually just flip a coin and observe what I catch myself hoping the result will be and go with that. However, I am almost perfectly split down the middle. Pros and cons for me seem pretty evenly split. On one side I have freedom, self-determination, and potential for long-term satisfaction, with the cons being instability and possibility of failure. On the other hand, I have stability, advancement, health insurance, with the cons being boring work, business casual attire, and 9-5 in an office.

I was hoping some of the older, wiser people here could give me some advice. Did you face a similar dilemma and regret/love your decision? Any advice welcome.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is very difficult to answer a question like this. For me, the elephant in the room would cause me to take the new job. Tis a gamble.
posted by JayRwv at 2:21 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The problem for me is this: I feel like I have this perfect time to establish my own business since I have secured this consulting gig for the summer

I say do this! It's rare to get the opportunity to go after your dreams, and even rarer to have such a cushion against failure (consulting work, zero debt).

The health insurance thing can be scary, yes, but do either of you have any major pre-existing conditions? If not, you may be able to simply buy insurance on your own for a reasonable price.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:25 PM on March 28, 2010

You can work on your business at night; when it gets rolling you can quit your day job. Just be sure you don't sign a contract that precludes working on side business.
posted by orthogonality at 2:26 PM on March 28, 2010 [8 favorites]

If it's really a 9-5 job, you could do that, and spend 8 hours a week working towards this new business with your friend. Spend another 8 hours a week relaxing and exercising. Best of both worlds! Quit if this other business is in a position to take off.

If you or your wife gets cancer, or a broken arm, or appendicitis, or some other illness - are you in a position to drop $10-50k+++? Or wait for all the kinks in the new health care bills to figure themselves out, if you're even eligible? Could you afford another $5k a year to pay for coverage on your own?

This doesn't sound like a huge albatross to bear for the short-term. Plus - who knows what doors will open for you as a result of this new venture. Good luck!
posted by barnone at 2:29 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Take the job. Commit to X hours per week working on the new business. Enjoy that health insurance. Go to the dentist. Get a physical. And in 18 months, quit with your new skillset, and run the new business full time. Or -- if any health issues arise, stay in the job and keep that insurance. That's how I'd do it.

I've been this sort of thinker ever since I had appendicitis at age 24. It's totally unpredictable, has nothing to do with your general health, and must be attended to immediately. I had just quit a job beforehand, and thankfully had signed on for (expensive) COBRA. The hospital bill was $12,000, but it was all covered.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:36 PM on March 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you decide to go for it, how much would a catastrophic insurance policy cost?

I'd probably take the job and ask for a schedule that would let me work on the side project. (Four 10-hour days?)
posted by salvia at 3:07 PM on March 28, 2010

Give yourself two weeks in the new job to see if it really is a match. That's a minimal investment in time and risk.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take it, on your terms. That is, figure out what (financially or otherwise) makes it worthwhile for you to take it for six months, and ask for it. If you get it, take it.

Then, if you realize in the first week it's a mistake, say so and leave. Or the first month. Or the first year. Or ten years from now. The best time to take a job is when you don't need it, so you can judge it on its merits.

It's always best to pursue opportunities and have choices. Make the choice to pursue this opportunity, knowing you'll bail if it was a mistake. BlahLaLa's recommended mental state for doing this is ideal.
posted by davejay at 4:56 PM on March 28, 2010

Since the job came looking for you, what would they say to postponing the hire until the end of the summer? Gives you time to try out your new business, work on the freelance, and then maybe take the job if the new business doesn't work out. The health insurance is still an issue.
posted by CathyG at 5:07 PM on March 28, 2010

Since they both have attractive pros, I would compare the possible cons of each job, if things came to their worst.

Job: At its worst, it would be boring, you have to wear pants, and you have to clock in at 9 AM.

Your startup: At its worst, you spend all your savings, the company/product/service doesn't take off in a down economy, you don't get another great job offer, you or your wife get sick or injured, and that last bit takes all the rest of your savings and (if it is your wife) potentially your sole source of income.

Sorry to be the pessimist, but that no-insurance thing is pretty serious.
posted by Houstonian at 6:29 PM on March 28, 2010

I just had a conversation with a coworker who was in a very similar situation 12 years ago. He had quit a position with a company to start his own consulting business. He got the business off the ground, his customer base grew every single year... and he still didn't earn as much over the course of those 12 years as he would have if he had taken another salaried job. The growth never made up for those lean years at the start. He doesn't regret doing it, exactly, but it did have consequences for him and his family. I think this is a decision you and your wife need to make as a team.
posted by MsMolly at 10:20 PM on March 28, 2010

First off, look into the new healthcare bill and see what your insurance options are.

Now, moving on to the core issue, I'll say that I was literally just in your exact situation.

I was out of a job (since june '09) and continued some affiliate marketing stuff I had done on my own on the side and worked on starting a lead-gen business and doing some consulting. Flash forward to this March and my affiliate stuff isn't where I really wanted it to be, but still earning me a bit, and while I've had some consulting work, it is not nearly steady enough or paying enough to cover the bills reliably. My lead-gen business is off to a much slower start than I anticipated as well.

However despite this, I am young (almost 27), zero debt, live with a gf with a decent job and have enough savings to continue on for a good 6mo-1year as well as having parents who would cover me if I needed it.

So you can imagine my dilemma when I got a job offer from an ad agency a few days ago. It was a roughly 24% pay raise over my last gig, had health, vision and dental, 401k, etc. The biggest downside is that it would be back at an ad agency and all the stress that entails plus I'd have to get in at like 8:30 (I had been waking up at about 10:30 on average these past several months).

At the end of the day I weighed the pros and cons, and decided to take it primarily because the work I would be doing there could be directly applied to my own affiliate marketing stuff and they have no issues with me doing stuff outside of work. So the goal is to leverage this job to put myself into a better position to not need to have another "job" again. I view it as getting paid to get served this data/training on a silver platter.

Would I have taken it if I hadn't been out of work so long and seen where my other projects were going? Probably not. I realized that there likely wouldn't be that many opportunities in my life where I had so few financial responsibilities and obligations and it was as good as time as any to take that big risk. Did I get all the way there? No, but I definitely got closer and I definitely see my dream as within my grasp in the next couple of years.

If I were in your shoes I'd say take it if it allows you time/ability to do your own things on the side. If not, take the risk. You are also in a rare position to be able to take this risk with a lot of padding to fall back on. Enjoy the mini-partial-retirement and get to that next phase of your life.
posted by Elminster24 at 10:54 PM on March 28, 2010

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