Should I take this job?
March 30, 2010 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Moral dilemma: Should I take this job, considering I might turn around and leave for something better?

I'm unemployed at the moment but have two jobs that I am a strong candidate for (I'll call them A and B).

Job A is more or less my dream job. It would be a solid career-track type job for a very large organization with excellent pay and benefits. The hiring with this job is a bit weird - basically they have a list of eligible candidates that have been interviewed and vetted that they pick people off of as they need them. They usually do the actual hiring (pulling people off the list) only once every several months, depending on hiring needs. I applied for the job in December, interviewed about a month ago, and am currently going through the very lengthy vetting process. I think I have a decent chance of getting hired eventually, but I don't know for sure when and/or if that will happen.

Job B is basically a 12-month contract job working overseas. While the job itself is not something I intend to make a career out of, I'm still really interested in it and think it might be a rewarding experience. Things have all of a sudden picked up steam regarding this job over the past week, and it's starting to look like the job is mine if I want it. The pay isn't nearly as good as Job A, but it's still more than enough to live off of. I have read the contract for Job B very carefully - the only penalty for quitting before 12 months is that I would have to refund all travel/relocation expenses, but there is no other penalty I can find for breaking the contract early.

So here's the deal: I would be flying over and starting Job B once my work visa is ready (probably late April/early May), but I have heard rumors that the next round of hiring for Job A will be in June. There's a slim chance that I could get offered a position with them in June, but there is also the possibility that I won't get called up until late 2010 or early 2011.

I guess my dilemma is this - should I still take Job B, knowing full well that I might have to drop everything and leave only a couple of months in? The people I'd be working for at Job B have been really nice and accommodating so far, and I really hate to mislead them or inadvertently screw them over. Then again there's no absolute guarantee when and/or if Job A will happen, and I can't afford to sit around on my jobless butt and wait forever...
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Of course you should take Job B. You have no moral obligation here, and no professional obligation beyond giving two weeks notice.

This is how employment works. You look for the best job for you. Employers rarely hesitate to drop you when they can get an advantage out of it, there's no reason for you to accord them the level of care you would give a friend or family member.

Take B. If you get A later, take job A. B will understand.
posted by spaltavian at 7:18 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think I have a decent chance of getting hired eventually, but I don't know for sure when and/or if that will happen.

but I have heard rumors

Then again there's no absolute guarantee when and/or if Job A will happen

Take job B. Don't turn down an opportunity based on rumors and speculation (unless you are unemployed by choice and don't need to take a job at all).

The people I'd be working for at Job B have been really nice and accommodating so far, and I really hate to mislead them or inadvertently screw them over.

You won't be. You will pay them back whatever you owe as per the contract and then move on. If you turn out to get any offer from A at all.

Jobs are temporary arrangements based on the current needs of the employer and employee. Anything can change at any moment. Employees will leave for other opportunities, even if they are fortunate enough to enjoy working with each other. Companies will lay off people they consider their family, if the economic reality forces them too.

Take job B and enjoy it! Maybe you will go to Job A if they call. Maybe you will decide Job B is better after all. Maybe Job A will never call.
posted by mikepop at 7:24 AM on March 30, 2010

You have no idea what the future holds. Take job B.

Maybe you'll love job B. Maybe company A will go out of business or get bought or spin off that entire division which will mean a year of holding patterns while they sort that out.

You have no moral dilemma with any employer. You are a rational actor making decisions and so is any (good) business. Businesses hire and fire at their discretion, and you work at your discretion. End of story. 2 weeks notice is professional courtesy, not a law, by the way.
posted by zpousman at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2010

Ditto what spaltavian said. An offer in hand is worth twice that of a rumored round of slim-chance hiring in a couple of months. And Job B could be awesome.
posted by jquinby at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2010

Your self interest is uppermost. The firms all think the same way and you are just another person to take or ignore or reject.Go forth, enjoy, and see what might find you love the job you took as 2nd choice.
posted by Postroad at 7:33 AM on March 30, 2010

It really doesn't matter whether or not you might get job A.

Employers don't hesitate to terminate employees when they feel it is no longer in their financial interest to employ them. Employers should begin to expect employees to accord them loyalty and consideration that exceeds two-weeks notice at some point after they change those termination policies.
posted by OmieWise at 7:53 AM on March 30, 2010

Employees suck it up when employers make decisions based on the employers' best interests. Therefore, it should be no surprise when employees act on their own best interests.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 AM on March 30, 2010

I really hate to mislead them

Accepting a job is not a guarantee that you will remain in it any more than offering someone a job is a guarantee that the person will never be laid off or fired. Consider that company B has policies in place that assume and understand that not every year-long contract employee will remain for the entire length of their contract.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:05 AM on March 30, 2010

Company B would have no problem whatsoever screwing you over if the roles were reversed. You absolutely have to do what is best for you, just as the companies do what's best for them. Take B, and jump ship if and when the opportunity presents itself. In the meantime, get all you can get from A.
posted by cgg at 8:27 AM on March 30, 2010

They don't care about you. Take job B.
posted by OrangeDrink at 8:39 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree you should go ahead and take job B. I would have qualms if job B were some specific thing that would really leave them in the lurch if you quit early. (Beyond the travel expenses, that is. Since they wrote that into the contract, presumably the contract terms are enough to satisfy them.) If you want to, you could mention to your boss-to-be that there's a slim chance your dream job will open up in a few months. But although that would be a forthright thing to do you don't owe them that; it's not likely that most companies would do the same for you if the situation were reversed. Treat your employer with respect, but don't sell yourself short either.
posted by hattifattener at 8:39 AM on March 30, 2010

If you want to have your job offer with company B rescinded you could mention to your boss-to-be that there's a slim chance your dream job will open up in a few months.

Fixed that for you. However, I agree that if job B is a situation that would become utterly catastrophic if you left early, it's a weightier decision to take B while waiting to hear about A.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:56 AM on March 30, 2010

Take Job B, say nothing about Job A to Job B, and as long as you only have that relatively minor penalty for leaving before the year is up, don't worry about it again until it's actually an issue. Also, when and if Job A comes knocking, discuss the possibility of postponing your start date. Don't make it a deal breaker. In fact, I would pretty much accept the job, and then mention that if it's possible, you would love to have a start date that would allow you to finish out this contract position. They just might accommodate the request. Best of luck with everything!
posted by katemcd at 10:02 AM on March 30, 2010

I'm not even going to read your "more inside." No need. I'm scrolling straight down to the bottom to tell you to take the job.


You have no idea what's going to happen to the other job, or if it will even come to pass.

I've been burned on this before. I passed on a great job offer, because I "knew" there was this other job in the pipeline that I'd be taking. And I didn't want to burn anyone, so I Did The Right Thing.

Well guess what, something unexpected happened. The job in the pipeline vanished. Instead of two jobs, I was left with none. None jobs.

This is an excellent case of what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls a "Black Swan event." It's something which is technically unexpected, but which any idiot could have predicted.
posted by ErikaB at 11:29 AM on March 30, 2010

If you really want Job A, then you need to see if there is a way to expedite the hiring process. Once you have an offer on the table from Job B, call Job A and say "Hey, I really want to work with you, but I have this job offer on the table from another employer. Can you let me know how I am doing in the hiring process. I told the other employer that I'd get back to them by XXX date. Is it possible for you to make a hiring decision before that date? Thanks"
posted by crazycanuck at 12:11 PM on March 30, 2010

I would have to refund all travel/relocation expenses

Take Job B if you're sure you would be happy with it were Job A not even a possibility, but make sure that all travel/relocation expenses are tightly documented and that you will be able to cover the penalty in the alloted time if you do choose quit for job A.

However, as someone who has been in this position, if you take job B don't spend your time in it pining for the potential of Job A. If Job A is in fact the true dream maybe you should commit to Job B for now (hell, it's only 12 months), and if you make the final cut for Job A tell the recruiters that you're now out of the running until 2011. Likely as not they'll be impressed and have you on the wait list for next year's hiring round when you're back - if you still want it by then.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:03 AM on March 31, 2010

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