Blessed or cursed?
January 5, 2011 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I've been offered a promotion, yay! But would taking it be a bad idea?

I'm an upper level widgeteer and am unhappy in my job (not dissimilarly to this earlier Ask). The misfit has been obvious (to me) from day one. But having had a series of contract and short-term roles before this I needed to get a solid period of service on my CV. It also offered security in the short-term, and a massive leap up from my former salary. I therefore planned to grit my teeth and get on with it for three years max. I've been there 2 years 7 months now and have adapted so well I feel slightly unhinged, but it's been at a massive cost to my homelife and relationships due to me being miserable as sin outside of work.

I've saved all the extra I've earned, have paid off my debt and now have a decent nest egg plus six months's emergency fund for living expenses etc. I was ready to face the final leg, counting the days til my quitting deadline (March) prepping my CV and contacting recruiters. Then, just before Christmas, my boss offered me the Manager position. It wasn't a total surprise - I've been semi-responsible for this stuff for a while now and I'd get to do more planning, strategy and resource-management (which I enjoy), but I still dislike the industry and want to be out of it asap. I asked to think about it over the holidays, I have to tell him yes or no by Friday. If I don't take it the post will be advertised externally.

The new job has much more responsibility (line management etc) but due to company restructure the extra pay is less than £2k annually. I don't mind the salary issue so much - my current position is overpaid within the market (hence being able to save so much) but taking it would mean I'd have to stay much longer than I'd planned, will no longer feel camaraderie with current same-level colleagues and the charade of 'playing nice' whilst secretly scanning for the exit will be even more intense and stressful than it is now.

So what do I do? On the one hand, it's a step up in responsibility and a chance to check out whether management is for me, or pass it up and start the search for better-fitting work sooner rather than later (I'm mid-30s at the moment)?

I really can't see the best way forward. Any thoughts fellow MeFites?
posted by socksister to Work & Money (16 answers total)
Since it doesn't sound like you want the money and you've gotten what you needed out of the position it sounds to me like you need to grit your teeth and jump. Don't take the promotion, you know you want to move on, just go ahead and do it.
posted by dadici at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2011

It sounds like you don't want more responsibility, to stay there longer, and that the money isn't worth it. You'd miss the cameradie for the next 3 months. So unless you really think it'd be a great chance to check out whether management is for you, no.

Why NOT just graciously decline?
posted by ldthomps at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2011

Goodness, take it, just to show potential employers that you are valuable and can move up! Your current company should not be surprised if such a good employee as you gets stolen away by another company shortly after a promotion. That's how it's played.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:19 PM on January 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Be prepared in case they offer you more money if you decline the offer. Not saying this will happen, but if it does, be prepared. Think right now of what that figure would have to be for you to accept this offer. Otherwise, just graciously decline.
posted by CathyG at 1:22 PM on January 5, 2011

Does the step up in responsibility actually mean more actual work? Or just in a sense of responsibility?
posted by anniecat at 1:24 PM on January 5, 2011

Response by poster: Why NOT just graciously decline?

Because my head says take it. Just because of the potential experience I suppose. Especially in the current job climate. But my heart says flee!

Does the step up in responsibility actually mean more actual work? Or just in a sense of responsibility?

I don't know, I've managed projects before but never people, not directly anyway. And the reportees would be my current team-mates.
posted by socksister at 1:32 PM on January 5, 2011

take the promotion and look for a new job.
posted by JPD at 1:38 PM on January 5, 2011

It's a lot easier to find a new job while you are employed. Accept the job, and then contact the recruiters etc. You'll have some management experience, and in case it is more difficult to find a new job than you anticipated, you'll still have your job. You may find management is just your thing -- or that you hate it -- and in any case, if you're still miserable in the new job, you can always resign later.
posted by jeather at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

You don't say whether the reason you hate your job is because you don't want to be a widgeteer, or because while you're happy being a widgeteer, the company / industry you're in is what is making you sad.

If it's the former, and what you really want to do is something completely unrelated to widgeteering and also unrelated management (those skills and experience are transferable), then there may be no benefit in taking the promotion.

But if it's the latter, then management experience (even if it's just seeing whether management is for you) might be a really good thing. If you're concerned about getting "stuck", just readjust your deadline - make a plan to re-evaluate at 6 months and set a 12 month maximum (or whatever works for you). A year is a good amount of experience to put on your CV in a management role, especially when you'll have been at the company for getting on for 4 years at that point.
posted by finding.perdita at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2011

Take the promotion, but don't otherwise change your plans. The new title and any corresponding pay increase, no matter how small, will increase your marketability for a new job. You are not obligated to stay any longer than you'd planned unless they make you sign a contract.

In fact, when looking for a new job, it'd be a boon to tell interviewers that you're leaving because you recently got a promotion and discovered it wasn't as good a fit as you'd hoped, so you're looking for equivalent-leveled work at another company. (Much better than telling them you're "looking for a change" or any other code for "I hate my job.")
posted by juniperesque at 1:50 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The alpha dog approach is that it would be better to find a new job when you have a better title. The beta dog approach is that it can negatively affect your future if you turn down a promotion. At any rate, it sounds like you want a new job. There's no guilt associated with finding a new job right after getting promoted. Just tell them you got cherry-picked. Some dude at a party, you know?
posted by rhizome at 2:18 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're planning to leave in March, I'd take the promotion. That means you can make a lateral move to a new job at a new joint with a better title, and a salary that it sounds like is probably around par for that role.

Basically, taking the bump puts you in a better postion for leaving. I wouldn't start looking until the 3 month mark.

None of that holds true if you're planning to leave in March regardless of if you have a new job to jump to. I think it's arguably true that it would look weird to new employers to work somewhere for two and half years, get a promotion and then quit after three months to be unemployed. That's a scenario opent to unpleasant interpretation, me thinks.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:26 PM on January 5, 2011

The thing with taking the promotion is, if you're like a lot of people, you'll end up staying longer then you would have if you didn't take the job. While the management experience could be helpful in getting another job you're not going to get much credit from a future employer for managing for 3 months. The phrase "golden handcuffs" springs to mind, you want out, they offer you something shiny, you take it and don't get out.
posted by dadici at 2:36 PM on January 5, 2011

Response by poster: DarlingBri: That's a scenario open to unpleasant interpretation, me thinks.

Yup, that's my thinking too, I had planned to quit anyway, which is why I'm a bit cautious of taking the role. It is mitigated somewhat by the fact I have to give a three month minimum notice period (in either role). This is standard for the UK at this level, so quitting in March means leaving in June.

But I suppose I could give it six months, if it still sucks I'd only have stayed an extra three months.

Lots to reflect on though, many thanks for the input guys.
posted by socksister at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2011

socksister: But I suppose I could give it six months, if it still sucks I'd only have stayed an extra three months."

I think six months in the new role is the minimum for credibility, so... take the gig, quit in Marh, leave in June would be the way to go if you did want the promotion. Otherwise, say no, quit Friday and leave in March.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:47 PM on January 5, 2011

How close is your non-work life to the breaking point? Three years is a long time to stick something like this out. I was prepared to recommend you take it for the same reasons as above (it's easier to laterally transfer, you'll have a record of advancement, it will be more likely that you'll receive the same or better salary).

Then I read the question you linked. Only you know your own limits, and you do seem to have iron will. But like that question, are you spontaneously crying in the workplace because you're so depressed and alienated by your job? The benefit of that promotion is marginal. The upside isn't so great that it's worth putting something you value on the line, like a relationship, your long-term health, or your reputation. (There have been some intense and distressing work burnout AskMe questions.)

The promotion will be worth something in your next job search, but if you're putting something else at risk, it may not be worth it.
posted by salvia at 6:26 PM on January 5, 2011

« Older Passion, grace and fire   |   Chinese television show? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.