How do I handle looking for a job after just getting one?
May 5, 2011 12:10 AM   Subscribe

How do I handle looking for a job after just getting one?

Some context:

I'm an impending college graduate. I've been pretty close with a professor and he's offered me a part-time job that I've readily taken since it was the first bite I've gotten in the job hunt.

We haven't ironed out the specifics in terms of number of days a week, compensation, how long I'm working for him, etc but its kind of clear (to me at least) that this is just a stepping stone job. We're going to finalize details next week.

What if I get another job offer in a month, though? And what if it's something that promises to be more long term, better pay, and full-time? I'd imagine it is the way things go, but how do I handle bringing that up to my new boss?

He's been in the business for a long time so I'm sure its nothing new to him, but I definitely want to avoid making him feel like he wasted his time or possibly burning a bridge.

Do I owe him a certain amount of my time? Should I bring up the fact that I will continue looking for better work even though I'm working for him?
posted by inTikiwetrust to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'd also like to add that this job I picked up is directly involved in what I want to do for a career, though I do only think it is a stepping stone into working for a larger company.
posted by inTikiwetrust at 12:12 AM on May 5, 2011

It sounds like he might be the kind of person who enjoys helping people out by giving them a step up, so while it's good for you to feel loyalty to him, don't sweat it.

Don't bring it up with him now. But if you find a permanent/full-time role, you don't owe him a certain amount of your time, especially as it's only part time. This sort of situation is totally normal for new graduates, and he will understand if you move on.
posted by plep at 12:28 AM on May 5, 2011

This is something you should be discussing with him. How much training is involved – if it's a lab job, for instance, and it would take you several months to get up to speed, then you will be doing him a great disfavor. Past members of my lab who quit just after a few months are not kindly remembered. It's also a matter of funding – with some grants, if salary funds don't get spent by a certain deadline, they "expire". Hiring someone to replace you might be hugely time-consuming to the PI, and in such a case your quitting would literally be costing him money (in the form of labor).

If, however, he is sort of doing you a favor and specifically creating this position for you (and that's what it sounds like if it's a part-time job), then he is probably assuming that you will be looking for a permanent position while working for him. Even better, he might be able to provide you with just the connections and introductions you need to get your dream job. If you are sufficiently close, you ought to be able to discuss this with him with no awkwardness – like you say, he might even have already done that for other graduates.
posted by halogen at 12:30 AM on May 5, 2011

Best answer: A part-time job for a new college graduate implies impermanence; you can't survive nor build a career on a part-time job. So, it is expected that sooner or later, you will leave this job for something full-time and better pay; and that it is acceptable that you will be searching for this full time position while working your part time gig. Do it, don't worry. Once you found the new job, then plan your transition.

Transition between jobs (be it from part-time to full-time or from full-time to full-time) is something you need to get used to, because in this modern world, you will be doing that a lot. Once you have a new job; determine how much time for the transition (usually about 1 month for full-time to full-time, should be shorter for part-time to full-time). Tell your new employer of your current obligation and how much time you will need to wrap up the old job, move, get a short vacation, prepare for new job, etc... Then tell your boss how much time you will spend to wrap up your current responsibility and hand it over. It's good to have a "to do" list and a "won't do" list; the to-do is what you will complete before your leaving, the won't-do is what you will help transfer to the next guy who will pick it up. Your boss should help you in this transition (if he is mature and understanding). Do not put everything on the to-do list.

Don't worry about your boss; part of being a manager is to have contingency plans for responsibilities; and with enough lead time, he can find replacement for you easily.
posted by curiousZ at 12:53 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

If they found someone tomorrow that was a better fit or offered them more work or could find two or more abroad to do your work for the same pay - they wouldn't hesitate to drop you. They would state the case just as it is.

You need to be a little more politic than that, but not much more. I really appreciate the opportunity and was looking forward to working at company Z, but was offered a job with higher pay and better opportunities. Unless you can do the same, I don't have any choice but to take this new offer.
posted by xammerboy at 7:16 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Um, talk to your professor! You haven't said anything above that makes you sound crazy, or unprofessional, etc... and it's not unusual that you are hoping to eventually land a full-time job.

It's possible he (reasonably) suspects you've taken yourself off the job market at least for the summer, or it's possible he (reasonably) expects you to keep looking but thinks he can help you and get some part-time help in the meantime. Just ask!

If you think it's unlikely you'll find another job offer for at least a few months, you could wait to have this conversation until shortly after you start... but I'm not sure what you gain. Your chances of burning bridges by having this talk now are tiny, while your chances of burning bridges by quitting after 3 days of work are much higher.
posted by _Silky_ at 12:52 PM on May 5, 2011

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